How Bayern Munich-Paris Saint-Germain match will play out

Two heavyweights — Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain — square off in Lisbon on Sunday for the chance to lift the Champions League trophy. Both clubs win their domestic leagues virtualy every year, with the Champions League title a significant goal for both sides. This should be as exciting a brand of soccer as we get to watch, and I can’t wait for the chess match to unfold.

Bayern Munich, the slight favorite, has been the best club in European soccer since all of these leagues restarted in June. It is undefeated and has looked like the most complete side in the world. Bayern made light work of Chelsea in the round of 16, famously destroyed Lionel Messi and Barcelona, 8-2, and got past Lyon, 3-0.

That last game was closer than the score line. Lyon created good chances but did not convert them like it did against Juventus and Manchester City. Bayern still won expected goals 2.7–1.5. Like in most of its matches, Bayern went into half ahead and Lyon couldn’t recover.

Bayern plays a high line and lets its fullbacks, especially Alphonso Davies, push upfield in attack. Because of this, it is often leaky at the back. Lyon had three fantastic chances on the counter but just didn’t convert them. With Kylian Mbappe and Neymar out wide for PSG, Bayern needs to be more careful how it uses its fullbacks in this match. Hansi Flick has usually managed the club aggressively, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a bit more tactical here given the stage.

Paris Saint-Germain is one of the more divisive clubs in the world. It’s more of a group of individuals than it is a team. If there is a down year or a problem, they just throw money at it rather than look internally. With that said, this is a top-five team when it comes to talent.

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar
Paris Saint-Germain’s NeymarEPA

Mbappe is on the short list of younger players (20) who could take Messi and Ronaldo’s spot as best in the world. Neymar has a bit more experience and is also a top-five player when he is at his best. Some criticized him for not taking advantage of great chances against Atalanta and Leipzig, but I thought that was harsh. He was the reason for most of those chances and had his fingerprints all over both of those games.

We haven’t even gotten to Angel Di Maria, who was man of the match against Leipzig. They also have been surprisingly good at the back as well, conceding very few goals. PSG has the quality and explosiveness to score a few on Bayern but likely will give Bayern some chances to score as well.

One thing I would point out would be quality of opponent. Bayern beat Chelsea, Barcelona, and Lyon. PSG beat Dortmund, Atalanta, and Leipzig. It was a down year for Chelsea and Barca, but Bayern’s road here was probably a bit tougher.

This is a pretty fascinating match to handicap. On the surface, everyone’s expecting a 3-2 score line, and that this will be an exciting match. Both clubs are stacked with attacking talent and are a bit lacking on the defensive side.

I’m staying away from the total of 3.5, but would lean to the Under. I think this match could have a cagey start, and 3.5 is a high total. It wouldn’t surprise me if Flick was more cautious with his fullbacks to start at least. European finals are historically anything but shootouts.

I like Bayern first half +155 and moneyline +105 for the match. Flick will get this right tactically, and the Germans prevail.