Paris Saint-Germain came close, but a second-half goal by Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman was the difference in Sunday’s 1-0 victory in the Champions League final in Lisbon, as the German titans claimed their sixth European title almost a year after this campaign began.
It was a just result. Bayern was the better team, holding off Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and PSG, which was making its first appearance in the finale of the planet’s most prestigious club competition. The Parisians did have chances to score both before and after Coman’s winner, including Mbappe’s late penalty shout and another golden opportunity to equalize in stoppage time.
The title means Bayern is the second European club to complete the treble twice, after Barcelona in 2008-09 and 2014-15. Bayern also won the treble in 2012-13, and on Sunday added this season’s Champions League crown to the Bundesliga and German Cup titles it won over the last couple months.
The decisive goal from Coman, a Paris native and PSG academy graduate, came in the 59th minute off a perfect delivery from Joshua Kimmich:
Here are three quick thoughts on the match.
Paris Saint-Germain will be back
Reaching the pinnacle of the club game against European royalty like Bayern was the idea when Qatar Sports investments purchased the sleeping giant in 2011. The project took another leap forward when they pried Neymar away from Barcelona three years ago. Still, PSG couldn’t manage to get over the round of 16 hump in each of the Brazilian superstar’s first two seasons in France.
That all changed during this coronavirus-cursed season. Despite going four months without playing a competitive match as Ligue 1 cancelled its season while the circuits in England, Italy, Spain and, yes, Germany resumed, PSG picked up where it left off in the Champions League.
As he was then, Neymar was the catalyst for PSG over the last two weeks in Portugal’s capital, where the business end of the tournament was moved in response to the health crisis. It was obvious that the 28-year-old wanted this one badly. His tears following the final whistle betrayed as much:
But this season, unprecedented as it was, was still a huge step forward for the club, which was only founded in 1950, decades after the more decorated continental foes it’s hoping to emulate. Thomas Tuchel is a special coach, and this team — provided it can be kept together — will learn plenty from Sunday’s defeat.
Is this the best Bayern Munich team ever?
As disappointing as the outcome was for PSG, there was a reason Bayern came into the final as the prohibitive favorite. Despite the otherworldly capabilities of Neymar and World Cup winner Mbappe, Bayern was superior in just about every position on the field.
Even with veteran midfielder Thomas Muller mostly neutralized and striker Robert Lewandowski surprisingly far off his devastating best Sunday, there was a sense of inevitability about the result. Bayern is so deep, so well-balanced, and has been incredibly consistent under Hans-Dieter Flic since he took over from Niko Kovac last November.
Sunday marked Bayern’s astounding 21st consecutive win across all competitions, including 11 straight in the Champions League.
Bayern’s sixth European title pulls them level with Liverpool, last year’s champ, and is more than any team except Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (seven). And with all respect to Bayern’s five previous winners, one would be hard-pressed to prove that any of those sides were more dominant than the current version.
No fans, but a superb final nonetheless
It’s a cliche but it’s true: Most big-time finals are nervy, overly defensive borefests. Not this one. Although there were no fans in attendance, right from kickoff on Sunday both teams were engaged and committed to potentially risky attacking forays that resulted in a hugely entertaining end-to-end affair.
Yes, Bayern earned its victory. But PSG fans will come away from the contest knowing their their team stood toe-to-toe with a juggernaut and still could have easily scored on a number of opportunities. That will be little consolation to the diehards in the moment, of course.
But nobody can say the Parisians didn’t go down swinging in this one. That’s something even neutral fans who normally love to hate on the nouveau riche side around the world no doubt appreciated. After the misery and uncertainty of the last five months, and in the context of the overall strangeness of this Champions League season like no other, the way it ended was actually something of an unexpected treat.