On Wednesday night, Bayern Munich will host Paris Saint-Germain at the Allianz Arena for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 matchup, and the remaining 90 minutes could make or break Christophe Galtier’s tenure as PSG coach.
Three weeks ago, a solitary goal from former PSG player Kingsley Coman was all it took for the Bavarians to win the first leg 1-0, giving die-hard Parisiens deja vu.
It was the same story when the German champions returned to town for the opening leg of their last-16 tie as it was when Bayern’s meeting with PSG in the French capital during their reunion. PSG lost the championship game to a Coman winner three years ago.
Coman and PSG had no love lost on Valentine’s Day as PSG lost to a 53rd-minute goal from their former academy graduate and Julian Nagelsmann’s team overcame a late dismissal for Benjamin Pavard to advance to the round of eight.
Bayern should be optimistic about avoiding just a second last-16 exit from their previous 12 Champions League campaigns; the perennial German champions lost to Liverpool at this stage in 2018-19. Bayern is also halfway to avenging PSG for eliminating them in the 2020–21 quarterfinals.
Bayern hasn’t been eliminated from the Champions League after winning the first leg of a match since the 2010–11 season, and 15 of their last 17 top-tier European contests at the Allianz Arena have resulted in victories, including all three of their group-stage contests this season against Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Viktoria Plzen – with three clean sheets in tow.
Bayern hasn’t failed to score at home in the Champions League since April 2018, and Nagelsmann’s team is still in charge of the closely contested Bundesliga title race after defeating Stuttgart 2-1 on Saturday, just hours before PSG made history.
The French champions’ 4-2 victory over Nantes in Ligue 1 at the weekend will go down in history as Kylian Mbappe became the club’s all-time leading scorer, despite more poor defending being a little blemish on the record.
Mbappe scored PSG’s fourth and last goal late in the game before letting emotion take control, tying Edinson Cavani for 200 goals for PSG going into the game. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old has little time to wallow in Parisian glory as their European destiny is once again in doubt.
Galtier surely understands what will happen if PSG is eliminated from the Champions League last 16 for the fifth time in seven seasons, and the capital giants have only advanced from one of their six Champions League knockout matches in which they have lost the first leg. The axe hangs dangerously above his head.
PSG earned seven points from its three away Champions League group-stage contests earlier this year, but they haven’t kept a clean sheet in Europe since October 2020, a stretch of 12 games during which their porous defense has been penetrated.
In the past 12 meetings between Bayern and PSG, the German champions have won six games, while the French champions have won six games as well. But, Wednesday’s matchup will mark game number 13 in unlucky fashion for one manager.
While Lucas Hernandez is still recovering from his ACL injury and Pavard will serve a one-match suspension due to his tardy dismissal in the first leg, Nagelsmann will be in quite a defensive pickle.
Josip Stanisic might start alongside Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt if Nagelsmann decides to stick with a back three because all three started against Stuttgart, and Manuel Neuer and Noussair Mazraoui are keeping Hernandez company in the locker room.
Sadio Mane, who has struggled with injuries, was able to come off the bench against Stuttgart, but Nagelsmann has warned the former Liverpool player that he must fight for his place in the starting lineup. Another substitute appearance for the Senegal international appears to be in the cards as Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane compete to replace Jamal Musiala in the final third.
Neymar will now miss the remainder of the season as he gets ready for ankle surgery, and Presnel Kimpembe (Achilles) is out permanently. Renato Sanches, however, has recovered from a hamstring injury and is in the squad.
Warren Zaire-Emery, who turns 17 on Wednesday, will likely be replaced by Marco Verratti, who has returned from a domestic suspension despite the teenager’s impressive performance during a 57-minute cameo in the first leg.
Achraf Hakimi has been accused of rape, which he denies, but the claims have shaken PSG over the past week. Nevertheless, Hakimi is currently free to leave the nation and should be eligible for selection while he recovers from a thigh injury.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Stanisic, Upamecano, De Ligt; Coman, Kimmich, Goretzka, Davies; Sane, Musiala; Choupo-Moting
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Pereira, Marquinhos, Ramos; Hakimi, Ruiz, Verratti, Vitinha, Mendes; Messi, Mbappe