There are few good teams that fly under the radar quite as much as the Indiana Pacers. The team has been consistently solid for the past decade, but outside of a couple trips to the Eastern Conference Finals, they have not been seen as a serious threat come playoff time. With each of the Pacers' last five seasons ending in...
Predictions for the Bayern vs. PSG Champions League Final
Earlier in the week, we mentioned how a PSG win would change the game forever, but we did not actually give a prediction. This time around, we are here to predict what we think will happen Sunday night.
Both Bayern and PSG have been incredible all season. Bayern started the season roughly, prompting them to hire a new coach, but even then, they only have five losses on the season in 51 games. PSG, on the other hand, has just four losses in 48 games.
It's not every season that the two best teams end up in the Champions League final, in fact, it's the first time since the 2015 final that we've had two potential treble winners in the final. This year, however, it seems appropriate to say that these are the two best teams in European football.
With that said, here are our predictions. Jake's first in RED, and Victor's second in BLUE.
This is a final that I could truly see going in many different ways. On one end, you have Bayern Munich who, whether they win or lose, are the best team in the world. Since the Champions League restart, they have scored fifteen goals in the three games they have played, while only conceding three.
On the other hand, you have PSG, who are in great form but are yet to truly be tested by a club close to the level of Bayern, having faced Dortmund, Atalanta, and Leipzig to get to this stage. I am not trying to take anything away from PSG because this could be a good thing for them. PSG so far this year in every Ligue 1 or Champions League game, find themselves as the favorite. PSG are finally the underdogs, which could take a massive amount of pressure off of a team that has Neymar and Mbappe on it.
If there is one thing that is easy to predict, it is that there will be chances. Neither side has been rock solid through the competition and looks very beatable at the back, especially with the firepower both teams have upfront. Just like the Lyon vs. Bayern game, I expect the game to be very open right from the beginning. Bayern have wasted no time this season settling into a game, but instead try to strike early, which could end up hurting them like it almost did versus Lyon.
PSG have the storylines like their club captain Thiago Silva playing his last game for the club, Neymar potentially stepping out of Messi's shadow and winning a Champions League on his own. And Mbappe at the age of 21, potentially lifting both a World Cup and Champions League, which could put him in the GOAT discussion in a decade from now.
But Bayern doesn't care about these storylines. Ever since the Champions League restart, they've been on one mission, and that is to win the trophy.
They haven't held back on anyone. After the Barcelona beatdown, several Bayern players were asked if they felt sad for Messi, they simply said no.
Lewandowski has been quiet since the restart and has "only" scored four of Bayern's fifteen goals. Expect him to be the hero in the final, and prove to everyone yet again he was robbed of a Ballon d'Or.
Score Prediction: Bayern 3-1 PSG
Top to bottom Bayern have the better team. They have the best finisher in the game, a man with 55 goals in 46 games. The best midfield in the match. The more experienced players. The better goalkeeper. And the history of success. But it won't be that easy.
The key to the game is that Bayern insists on playing a very high tempo pressing game, which necessitates a high-defensive line. Teams that press the opposition must use a high-line to limit space from one player to the next so they can outnumber their opponents and thus effectively use the press. It is a very pro-attack style of play evident by their Europe leading 158 goals they have scored this season. But, this is also a dangerous style of play. When a team breaks that press and plays a pass behind that high-line, anything can happen. Barcelona and Lyon both did this in creating golden opportunities in the first 20 minutes of their games against Bayern.
Once that high-line fails, which will likely happen at least twice, its a sprint back from the centerbacks to play catchup. There's no worse player to play a high line against, than Kylian Mbappe.
And I know what you're thinking:
1. Alphonso Davies is quick enough to negate the Mbappe factor
2. Bayern can adjust their playing style in anticipation of the Mbappe threat
Here's why that won't work
Alphonso Davies and Kylian Mbappe both line-up on the left side for their teams, which means they'll actually be on opposite sides of the pitch. Mbappe will likely come against the combination of either Kimmich/Pavard at right-back paired up with Jerome Boateng at center back. As world-class as Boateng is at reading the game, he struggles as aa 1on1 defender due to his lack of pace.
The game Bayern lost 5-1 early in the season, to a Frankfurt team that finished the season in 9th and got the previous Bayern manager fired, was kicked off by a Boateng red card in the 9th minute after he was left 1-on-1. The second goal Barcelona scored in the quarter-final was from a mistake in 1-on-1 defending by Boateng. If PSG can get Boateng isolated throughout the game by exposing the high line, Bayern is going to have a very tough day.
Niklas Sule is an option, but he might be an even worse matchup versus Mbappe. You could slide Alaba slides over to the right-center back, but that limits what he offers the team playing out of the back on his preferred left foot.
The other alternative is that Bayern do away with their high line and change their playing style, but that is a big ask for a game played after four days of preparation. Were this a traditional Champions league season with weeks to prepare for the final, I suspect Bayern would change their playing style to match the threat PSG poses and comfortably win the game, but that is not the case.
The truth is Bayern are, for sure, the better team, but PSG matches up perfectly to exploit Bayern's weaknesses, and that will make the difference.
Score Prediction: PSG 3-2 Bayern