Quality, collective strength means Bayern deserve European crown

Quality, collective strength means Bayern deserve European crown

Monday, August 24, 2020 11:50 am


Bayern Munich

With a 1-0 victory over Paris St Germain courtesy of Kingsley Coman’s header, Bayern have achieved what no team has managed in Europe’s elite club competition win every game.

The nearest any side have come to a 100 per cent campaign in the Champions League era were AC Milan in 1993 but Fabio Capello’s side lost in the final to Olympique Marseille.
Bayern are not in the business of losing, even when they are not at their most impressive steam-rolling best.

Hansi Flick’s team did not show the overwhelming attacking power they displayed in a remarkable 8-2 crushing of Barcelona in the quarter-finals, nor the dominance they enjoyed for most of their 3-0 semi-final win over Olympique Lyonnais.

But once they had grabbed the lead against PSG in the 59th minute through Paris-born Kingsley Coman, Bayern never looked like letting their strong grip slip.

They are simply used to making sure they win and it showed.

Unbeaten in 2020, a solitary draw in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig was the only time they have been stopped this calendar year. Their victory on Sunday was their 21st in a row.

Bayern may not have the global mega-stars of other teams, no Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or PSG’s Neymar, but they have a team that ticks pretty much every other box.

They have an outstanding goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer, who foiled Neymar and his strike partner Kylian Mbappe when they had chances in the first half.

They have a solid defence, which coped with the world’s most expensive forward line, even when they lost centre-half Jerome Boateng to injury midway through the first half.

They have fast attacking full-backs, a key ingredient in top teams in the modern game, with Alphonso Davies excellent throughout the knockout games and Joshua Kimmich showing his versatility with the cross that created the winning goal.

The excellent holding midfielder, Spaniard Thiago Alcantara, complements the workhouse Leon Goretzka alongside him, bringing a calmness and composure.

Thomas Mueller has been reborn under Flick’s control, with his probing runs and intelligent use of space once again put to effective use with Serge Gnabry, to his right, a threat with his directness and speed.

And no championship-winning team would be complete without a goalscoring centre-forward — Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was the Champions League top scorer with 15 goals in 11 games and 55 in all competitions this season.

The side of Bayern that was most evident on Sunday at the Estadio da Luz was the absolute determination to make sure they stopped PSG from cancelling out Coman’s goal.

“When you think how we worked defensively until the 96th minute – Lewandowski was chasing after the ball, which was incredible. It was a complete team performance,’’ said Flick.

The coach could do no wrong after taking over in November and his magic touch was evident again with the decision to start Coman ahead of Croatian Ivan Perisic, who had been picked for the previous two games in Lisbon.

But above all, like every great German team, Bayern are a collective force in a manner that PSG, for all their expensive big names, are still trying to become.

Flick will take much of the credit for their treble success but he was quick to highlight the core strength of his side.

“Every player developed this season in such a way so as to win three titles. This only happens as a team,’’ he said. (Reuters/NAN)

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