Champions league final 2020: Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain holds today: here’s everything you need to know
Paris Saint-Germain are in after years of heartbreak
PSG’s trip to the final is its first ever in club history, and it immediately proceeds their first European semifinal in 25 years. The Parisians were perhaps more known for their ability to choke in the early stages of the tournament. From 2013-2016, they were stopped in the quarterfinals every year they got to that point in the competition. The following seasons were even worse as they were eliminated in the Round of 16 three consecutive times.
This year’s narrative-changing campaign has landed them in their first European final in their 110th game of the competition, which is the most played by a side before reaching their first final — previous record was Arsenal, which was 90 games from 1971-2006.
Bayern finally break through again
While the frustrations haven’t exactly been on the same level as PSG’s, the Bundesliga side has dealt with their own issues in breaking through a certain part of the tournament in recent years. From 2014-2018 they lost four straight semifinal ties. The year after that stretch, they were knocked out by eventual champions Liverpool. All it took for them to break through after a seven year absence from the final was becoming one of the most dominant European teams in recent memory.
Neymar, the facilitator
The Brazilian winger’s recent Champions League performances may have been categorized by his inability to be an effective goal-scorer, but perhaps it’d be better for him to focus on being a facilitator so his missed opportunities don’t rack up on him. His magical back heel assist to Angel Di Maria on Tuesday was the latest example of his talent in helping teammates put the ball in the back of the net.
UEFA ranking: 7
This season: P10 W8 D1 L1 F25 A5
How they got here: Group A winners, 3-2agg Dortmund (R16), 2-1 Atalanta (QF), 3-0 Leipzig (SF)
Last five games: WWDWW
Top scorer: Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappé (5)
Last season: round of 16
European Cup best: final (2019/20)
Chris Burke, Paris reporter
Just 90 minutes away from their maiden Champions League title, Paris are brimful of belief that this – the 50th anniversary of their foundation – is the year they finally leave their mark. The French champions have been a team transformed since their round of 16 loss at Dortmund, forging an impressive squad spirit to turn that tie around and then stun Atalanta in the quarter-finals with two late goals.
Add that to the obvious talent they displayed to cruise past Leipzig and this is a side with both the means and the confidence to take one more historic step.
Who’s in charge?
Paris coach Thomas Tuchel is recovering from a broken foot.
After replacing Jürgen Klopp at Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel joined Paris in 2018. He has since landed two Ligue 1 titles, adding the French Cup and League Cup this season. Having also won the Trophée des Champions at the start of 2019/20, the German coach can now complete a historic clean sweep of five trophies. The first manager to steer Paris into a Champions League final, he has won 12 of his 18 matches in the competition with the club.
Key quote: “I’m very happy to coach this team – it’s fun. They’re not only talking, they’re delivering. We will give everything; the final will be a big match.”
Paris began 2020 with Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Ángel Di María and Mauro Icardi as the star performers in a stable 4-4-2, but Tuchel has since had to improvise to cope with absences. The French champions began with Neymar as the playmaker in a 4-3-1-2 against Atalanta and, with Icardi left on the bench, the Brazilian then operated as a false No9 in the 4-3-3 that dispatched Leipzig. Tuchel may be inspired to stick with that solution, while keeping faith with a defence that has yielded just five goals in ten games – fewer than any other team.
Star player: Neymar
The highest-scoring Brazilian in Champions League history, Neymar has been inspirational for Paris in recent rounds – the first time he has been injury-free in the knockout phase since joining in 2017. Though he has yet to score during the Lisbon mini-tournament, the Paris No10 has driven the team forward with his dribbling, passing, energy and hunger.
UEFA ranking: 1
This season: P10 W10 D0 L0 F42 A8
How they got here: Group B winners, 7-1agg Chelsea (R16), 8-2 Barcelona (QF), 3-0 Lyon (SF)
Last five games: WWWWW
Top scorer: Robert Lewandowski (15)
Last season: quarter-finals
European Cup best: winners x5 (most recently 2012/13)
Jordan Maciel, Bayern reporter
Though always named among the favourites, nobody gave Bayern much of a chance of winning this season’s competition. Yet despite high-profile departures last summer and a mid-season change of coach, the German champions have won ten out of ten while racking up 42 goals in the process.
Under Hans-Dieter Flick, they are playing with a confidence, hunger and a frightening intensity that few sides have been able to live with. Some have suggested this side are even better than the 2013 treble winners; in Sunday’s final they can at the very least prove their equal.
Who’s in charge?
Replacing Niko Kovač, former assistant Hans-Dieter Flick took the reins in November. His side have won 27 of their last 28 games, and come into the final on a 19-match winning streak, with Flick having earned a contract until the summer of 2023.
Key quote: “We will look to organise our defence, but we know our biggest strength is putting our opponents under pressure.”
Bayern’s high intensity, quick pressing and desire to keep possession, have been key to their dominance under Flick. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry are long gone, but exploiting the wings remains fundamental in Bayern’s approach – made possible by the incredible work rate of their full-backs Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies.
Star player: Robert Lewandowski
‘Lewangoalski’ has contributed a season’s best 15 goals (in addition to 34 in the Bundesliga), and needs two more in the final to match Cristiano Ronaldo’s single-campaign UEFA Champions League record of 17. The Polish international’s six assists are worth a mention too.
The UEFA Champions League (2020) is a seasonal football competition established in 1955.
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The UEFA Champions League is open to the league champions of all UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) member associations (except Liechtenstein, which has no league competition), as well as to the clubs finishing from second to fourth position in the strongest leagues. Prior to the 1992–93 season, the tournament was named the European Cup.
Originally, only the champions of their respective national league and the defending champions of the competition were allowed to participate. However, this was changed in 1997 to allow the runners-up of the stronger leagues to compete as well.
In the Champions League era, the defending champions of the competition did not automatically qualify until the rules were changed in 2005 to allow title holders Liverpool to enter the competition.
Teams that have won the UEFA Champions League three consecutive times, or five times overall, receive a multiple-winner badge. Six teams have earned this privilege: Real Madrid, Ajax, Bayern Munich, Milan, Liverpool, and Barcelona.
Until 2009, clubs that had earned that badge were allowed to keep the European Champion Clubs’ Cup and a new one was commissioned; since 2009, the winning team each year has received a full-size replica of the trophy, while the original is retained by UEFA.
A total of 22 clubs have won the Champions League/European Cup. Real Madrid hold the record for the most victories, having won the competition 13 times, including the inaugural competition. They have also won the competition the most consecutive times, from 1956 to 1960. Juventus have been runners-up the most times, losing seven finals. Atlético Madrid is the only team to reach three finals without having won the trophy while Reims and Valencia have finished as runners-up twice without winning. Spain has provided the most champions, with 18 wins from two clubs.
England have produced 13 winners from five clubs and Italy have produced 12 winners from three clubs. English teams were banned from the competition for five years following the Heysel disaster in 1985. The current champions are Liverpool, who beat Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 final.