The UEFA Champions
League final in Lisbon will be the first one to be played behind closed doors. The clash could also see the Paris Saint-Germain of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe lift
the coveted title for the first time, but a Bayern Munich side, led by the
prolific Robert Lewandowski, stand in their path. While Bayern Munich will be
hoping to lift the trophy for the sixth time and complete a continental treble,
PSG will be eager to cap their rise in the last decade under Qatari ownership.
“It is true that
it will be odd to play behind closed doors. We would have liked to have our
supporters there, but I know they are supporting us where they are. But this is
still the Champions League,” said Mbappe during a virtual press
The competition was
suspended for five months before finally resuming earlier in August, with
two-legged ties done away with in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
“You still feel
all the tension. Everyone wants to win it, especially with this unusual format.
Everyone will remember this for a long time because of the tragic events
surrounding it,” Mbappe added.
While the atmosphere
in the ground will be surreal for the few hundred allowed to attend, the match
promises to be fascinating, pitting together two teams whose domestic dominance
is almost total and who were both comfortable winners in the semi-finals.
PSG sealed their place
in their first Champions League final by beating RB Leipzig 3-0. They are the
first French representative to get this far since Monaco in 2004 and can become
just the second team from Ligue 1 to win European club football’s biggest
prize, after Marseille in 1993.
“This is exactly
why I came here. I always said that I wanted to go down in my country’s
history. (This) is another chance to do that,” said Mbappe.
If PSG represent the
nouveau riche, Bayern are one of the continent’s traditional giants. This is
their 11th final.
The last of their five
victories came in 2013. Four starters from that 2-1 final win over Borussia
Dortmund at Wembley — goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and
Thomas Mueller — could play here, although Boateng is a doubt with a hamstring
When, in 1974, Bayern
won their first European Cup, a young PSG outfit were only just winning
promotion to France’s top-flight.
Leaving aside their
storied past, Bayern appear the most formidable team in Europe just now.
Their 3-0 semi-final
win over Lyon was their 20th consecutive victory. They are unbeaten in 29
matches since December last year under coach Hansi Flick.
They have already
pocketed a German league and cup double, with the Bundesliga title their eighth
in a row.
They have won all 10
matches in the Champions League this season, scoring 42 goals, including a 7-2
win at Tottenham Hotspur and the 8-2 quarter-final demolition of Barcelona.
Robert Lewandowski has
55 goals this season. But he is more than ably supported.
Bayern take the risk
of playing with a dangerously high defensive line. Yet it remains to be seen if
they can afford to take that risk against PSG’s attack of Neymar, Mbappe and
Angel Di Maria.
played with a high line and ultimately we’ve got results doing that, so we
won’t change too much,” Flick insisted.
The French champions,
under German coach Thomas Tuchel, have themselves lost once since November 1,
last year, and they overturned that 2-1 reverse in Dortmund in the last 16 by
winning the return leg.
“It is a small
advantage for Bayern that they are used as a club to playing these games. I
accept that, but it is not a decisive advantage,” said Tuchel.
Neymar is in fine form
and Mbappe has recovered from an ankle injury, while Tuchel was optimistic
playmaker Marco Verratti would start after a calf problem.
However, there remains
a doubt over goalkeeper Keylor Navas, three times a Champions League winner
with Real Madrid, after he missed the semi-final.