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PSG and Bayern are better going forward than they are at the back, and neither will back down in the second instalment of this quarter-final contest.
Over 3.5 option here.
|Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich|
|What||Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich|
|Where||Parc des Princes, Paris, France|
|When||Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 15.00 PM EDT|
|How to Watch||Paramount+|
Many viewers of last week’s first leg between these two teams will have only just got their breath back. Bayern Munich and PSG served up a superb spectacle at the Allianz Arena, with the French side holding a slender 3-2 advantage ahead of the reverse fixture at the Parc des Princes.
It is hard to call a winner, with Bayern certainly not out of it yet. The best choice from a betting perspective is more than 3.5 goals. Attacks triumphed over defenses last week, and that is likely to be the case again now that the stakes are even higher.
In time, PSG’s 3-2 victory over Bayern might be viewed as a coming-of-age performance in the Champions League. It is well documented that the French giants have never won Europe’s foremost club competition, and last season was perhaps the first time they gave a good account of themselves in the tournament since the Qatari takeover a decade ago. PSG reached the final in 2019/20 and were only narrowly beaten by Bayern in the Lisbon showpiece.
Yet even then, critics of the club charged that Thomas Tuchel’s side did not have the hardest path to the final. After squeezing past Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16, PSG overcame Atalanta and RB Leipzig to set up a clash with Bayern in the final. No team can control the draw, of course, but PSG went into this season’s tournament still searching for the type of statement knockout-stage victory that would definitively announce their arrival among Europe’s elite.
It will count for nothing if PSG, now managed by Mauricio Pochettino, do not complete the job in the second leg, but their 3-2 triumph at the Allianz Arena was hugely impressive.
Granted, they needed a slice of good fortune to edge a five-goal thriller, with Bayern’s profligacy proving pivotal. But PSG deserve credit for a well-thought-out counter-attacking game plan, which was implemented with maturity and intelligence by their players. Kylian Mbappe was the star of the show, but it was a collective effort that helped PSG establish a first-leg lead.
Expected Goals, a measure of chance quality, does not always tell the full story of a match, largely because the scoreline has an effect on how both teams approach the remainder of the game. Nevertheless, it was telling that Bayern racked up 3.6 expected goals in the first leg, which suggests they could easily have found the back of the net more than two times. Had Robert Lewandowski been fit to start, they surely would have done.
The Poland international, who has scored 42 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions this season, was a big miss last week. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is an honest professional but he does not have the same predatory instinct inside the penalty area as Lewandowski, and that proved costly in the first leg.
He was not the only Bayern player guilty of profligacy, though, and Hansi Flick will need his players to be a great deal more clinical if the reigning European champions are to continue the defense of their crown beyond the quarter-final stage.
Bayern are certainly not out of the tie yet, and an early goal would pose a stern test of PSG’s mental strength, which has proved fragile at times in this competition over the years. Pochettino’s charges are the favorites to advance, but there is still plenty of life in this quarter-final.
The first leg was evidence enough that these two teams are better going forward than in attack. Bayern could easily have scored more than 3.5 goals themselves, and PSG also had other opportunities to add to the strikes they did manage. There will be an abundance of attacking quality on the field on Tuesday, and neutrals everywhere will hope to be treated to a repeat of that scintillating first game.
As a rule of thumb, Champions League clashes tend to be cagier in the first leg than in the second. As the minutes tick down and we get closer to the end of the tie, one team usually finds itself in need of a goal. There is more to lose in the first leg when some managers deem it too risky to go on the front foot. Yet neither Pochettino nor Flick felt that way at the Allianz Arena, and the circumstances of this match-up make caution unlikely here.
Simply put, either PSG or Bayern will need a goal during every minute of this game. The Germans will have to take the initiative early on, but if the visitors were to score twice then PSG would suddenly need to strike back. Even at 0-0, the hosts know they could take a huge step towards the semi-final with a decisive breakaway on the counter-attack, and if PSG did take the lead that would simply compel Bayern to push even further forward.
The make-up of these two teams, together with the fact that both cannot be happy with the scoreline at any given moment, means goals are likely.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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