Benefit PSG as Les Parisiens defeat Bayern Munich in thrilling quarter-final
A clinical Paris Saint-Germain left the Allianz Arena with a lead of one goal in an exciting first leg in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
It was an electrifying start to the game. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who stood up for the injured Robert Lewandowski, saw his header hit the crossbar from Joshua Kimmich’s corner in the second minute.
It was a miss that proved costly as visitors took the lead just a minute later. Neymar picked up the ball in the middle, drove forward, and slid it through to Kylian Mbappe. The young Frenchman slammed into the net even though goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would have been disappointed to let it go through him.
Bayern Munich reacted well to the goal and should have equalized in the tenth minute, but Thomas Müller hit Keylor Navas directly from close range.
Bayern suffered another horror shortly afterwards when Julian Draxler found the net, but Mbappe was only marginally offside during the build-up and the goal was blocked.
The hosts continued to press for an equalization. Leon Goretzka saw his header saved from close range by Navas before the Costa Rican produced again to deny Benjamin Pavard’s low drive.
Not long after that, PSG found a second goal. Neymar swung a fantastic cross for the Brazilian compatriot Marquinhos, who shot in a controlled and calm manner into the farthest corner. This was his last contribution to the game as he injured himself almost immediately afterwards.
Hansi Flick’s men were able to cut the deficit in half before the break. Pavard’s cross from the right hit Choupo-Moting, who planted his header in the lower corner.
The second half of the year was just as exciting. Neymar went through but was denied by Neuer and David Alaba had saved a shot from Navas.
Of course, it didn’t take long to score the next goal and it was the German team that made it. Kimmich’s free kick was thrown from Müller’s head into the lower corner and drew the score.
Just as Bayern Munich were pushing for the lead, they were hit again by the counterattack. Angel Di Maria fed Mbappe a pass and the Frenchman did the rest, superbly pushing the ball through Jerome Boateng’s legs at the near post. This was his sixth goal in the knockout phase of the Champions League and his eighth in the tournament.
The home team continued to struggle to equalize, but could not find the net for the third time. Alaba came closer twice and Müller shot one shot out of bounds.
The game ended 3-2. Bayern Munich suffered their first Champions League defeat since their home defeat against Liverpool in 2019. The Bundesliga must score at least two goals in the second leg on April 13th at Parc des Princes.
Man of the Match – Neymar
Neymar reminded the world of his talent with another masterful display
This could easily have gone to his criminal partner Kylian Mbappe, but more about him later.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team were on their backfoot for most of the game so they had to make the most of it every time they moved forward. Fortunately, Neymar helped them with this.
The Brazilian is a very controversial figure in football, but the first two goals have shown exactly why he is one of the best players in the world. For the first, he drove forward from the depths and showed great serenity to slip into Mbappe, who did the rest.
His second assist was even more impressive as he selected an inch-perfect pass for marquinhos.
It’s been a tough night for Bayern Munich and if the striker can deliver another outstanding performance in the second leg, he should lead his team to the semi-finals.
Did Kylian Mbappe win the Ballon d’Or tonight?
Mbappe is on the way to his first Ballon d’Or
One of the best young football players, Kylian Mbappe has been touted alongside Erling Haaland as heir to the throne of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 22-year-old is widely expected to win a Ballon d’Or at some point and it could come sooner than most think.
He was already one of the first leaders of the award, along with greats like Messi, Ronaldo, Haaland and Lewandowski. His appearance in the Allianz Arena has established itself as a favorite.
As of 2007, the Ballon d’Or was either won by a player who won the Champions League or he was the top scorer in the competition. In fact, all of the last 13 winners have made it through to at least the semi-finals.
In contrast, five of the last eight winners failed to win their domestic leagues. Put simply, the Champions League is more important than anything else at Ballon d’Or.
Messi and Ronaldo are already eliminated, and Lewandowski and Haaland are unlikely to make it through to the next round either. This already gives Mbappe a huge advantage over the others.
In addition, it will be an absolute miracle in his case to score six knockout goals in three games against two of Europe’s biggest clubs.
This summer’s European Championships and the Copa America could make a difference. However, Mbappe plays for the current World Cup holders so he doesn’t have to worry in this department.
And ultimately, the Champions League will have priority over international competitions in the Ballon d’Or race. Ronaldo won the award in 2014 despite being out of the group stage of the World Cup, while Messi reached the final and won the Golden Ball. Likewise, the Argentine won in 2010 and 2011, despite not scoring a goal in either tournament.
Aside from a comeback in Bayern Munich’s return leg, it looks like the youngster could win his first (but probably not his last) Ballon d’Or.
Also read: Champions League quarter-finals 2020/21: results and UCL highlights