A Kingsley Coman goal was the difference as Bayern Munich beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 to win the Champions League for the sixth time at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Sunday night.
Coman turned out to be an inspired selection in the starting eleven by Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick and the Frenchman repaid the manager’s faith by scoring the winning goal in the second half.
Despite not being at their best, Bayern Munich showed their experience on the big stage in the Champions League final and ultimately did enough to beat a heartbroken PSG team to lift the trophy on the night.
PSG’s €400m strikeforce failed to step-up
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were expected to fire the French champions to European glory when the duo were signed together in the summer of 2017 for an eye-watering sum of €400m.
After multiple heartbreaks in the completion, PSG finally had their opportunity to win the trophy they have spent all the money for in the last decade. But their star players failed to deliver on the big night.
Neymar missed a great opportunity to score within in the first 20 minutes but was denied by Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Mbappe also got his chance following an error in the Bavarians’ defence but his shot was straight at Neuer.
The Parisians needed their big players to produce on the grandest stage of them all but they came a cropper under the bright lights of Lisbon.
Manuel Neuer produced a captain’s performance
The Germany number one has long been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his era but last night he showed why many feel he is THE BEST in the world.
He was a giant between the sticks for Bayern Munich throughout the night and produced at least three world-class saves to keep his team in the pursuit of winning the Champions League.
Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Marquinhos all had good chances to score for PSG at the Estadio da Luz but all of them came second-best in the duel with the Bayern Munich captain and goalkeeper.
There was no one more deserving in Lisbon last night than Neuer who could have lifted the Champions League and he was more or less the match-winner for the German champions despite Kingsley Coman scoring the winning goal.
Bayern Munich have signed Alexander Nubel from Schalke on a free transfer but on last night’s performance, it is hard to see how the 23-year-old can even hope to replace Neuer in goal next season.
Bayern Munich were far from convincing on the night
The German champions won all their 11 games on their way to winning the Champions League last night. But they reserved their worst performance in Europe this season for the final.
They were nowhere the performance that helped them beat Barcelona 8-2 in the final and even their showing against Lyon in the semi-final was better.
Robert Lewandowski failed to score in the Champions League this season for the first time in the final and they looked lacklustre for large parts of the game.
PSG looked the better side in the first half and had the better chances but they failed to beat Manuel Neuer in the Bayern Munich goal and ultimately paid for their profligacy in the second half.
The lament for PSG would be that they found a Bayern Munich side far from their best in the final and failed to capitalise.
Hansi Flick showed elite in-game management during the final
The Bayern Munich boss never would have envisaged being a Champions League-winning manager when he started the season as the assistant to Niko Kovac in the dugout.
But here he was in Lisbon, on his way to winning the Champions League and the treble as Bayern Munich manager. The German’s decision to play Kingsley Coman in the final paid off with the French winger scoring the only game of the goal.
However, his acumen as an elite manager was also on display in the final with his game-management skills. Flick knew that his Bayern Munch side were far from their best against PSG in Lisbon last night.
The decision to take off Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, who was on a yellow card, around the hour mark for Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic in the second half stretched the Parisians further as they grew frustrated in their pursuit of a goal.
The 55-year-old helped his side to control the game despite not playing well in the second half and fresh legs on the flanks kept PSG honest at the back until the last minute of the game.
Established elite trumps over nouveau riche in Europe
Bayern Munich are one of the established elite clubs of Europe with history and tradition behind them. Their win last night helped them lift their sixth Champions League/European Cup.
On the other hand, PSG were looking to win their first win Champions League. It would have been the culmination of a 10-year project that saw Qatar’s sovereign funds getting pumped in the club to win the ultimate European trophy.
But the Parisians like Manchester City are not the most popular members of the European elite. The traditional big clubs have scant respect for the two sides and have been trying to stop or stunt their growth for a few years now. A PSG win would have been a sort of landmark.
Nowhere close to being a big club, even in France, at the start of the decade, the Parisians would have finished it by being European champions.
At some point, either PSG or Manchester City will win the Champions League, they just have to, given the money, they have spent and will spend. But one of the established elites managed to delay the inevitable for one more season at least.
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