In the final part, after the entry of Kyllian Mbappé, Paris Saint-Germain still created a couple of opportunities, but in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League, it was Bayern Munich that shone in the Princes Park. Showing that they are collectively superior, the Bavarians could have built a more extended result, but they go into the second game, in Munich, with just one goal of advantage: as they had done in the 2019/20 Champions League final, Kingsley Coman scored to the team where he did all the training. In Italy, there was the same result: AC Milan defeated Tottenham, by 1-0.
A year and ten months after they last faced each other, PSG and Bayern met again at the Parque dos Príncipes and, in the wake of two consecutive defeats at home for the French, the Germans sought to exploit the bad moment of the rival.
With Vitinha and Mbappé on the bench – the French striker spent almost two weeks without training -, PSG entered the field with Nuno Mendes on the left flank and Danilo in midfield, but Christophe Galtier’s 4x4x2, where Warren’s presence stood out Zaïre-Emery (16 years old), was neutralized by Julian Nagelsmann’s tactical plan.
With the team drawn in a 3x4x3, Bayern managed to win the fight in the center of the field – thanks to the quality of the Goretzka/Kimmich duo – and the clear Bavarian dominance was well reflected in the statistics at halftime: 60% possession; 35-10 on attacks; 9-1 in shots; 4-0 in corners.
Despite the unequivocal supremacy, all of Bayern’s attempts in the first half collided with the lack of German reliability in finishing – Choupo-Moting, at 1′ and 30′; Pavard, at 9′; Coman, at 28′ – or the French defense and goalkeeper’s hit – Kimmich, at 29′ and 43′; Goretzka, at 43′.
With Messi very discreet and Neymar, once again, being more visible for his takedowns, Galtier tried to correct the lack of tactical success with the replacement of a winger (the Moroccan Hakimi) for a central defender (Kimpembe). However, on the other side, Nagelsmann also moved, although without great tactical nuances: Cancelo was replaced by Canadian Alphonso Davies.
Although with another design on the pitch, the main change in PSG on the way back from the changing rooms seemed to be in attitude and, in the first half dozen minutes of the second half, the Parisians caused more problems to Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer than in the entire first part. But when PSG were at their best, it was a Parisian who put Bayern ahead. In the 53rd minute, in one of the first times he touched the ball, Davies crossed wide and Coman repeated what he had already done in the Champions League final at Estádio da Luz: he scored and didn’t celebrate against PSG.
Leaning against the ropes, Galtier couldn’t wait any longer. He immediately released Mbappé (and Fabián Ruiz), but only Bayern shone in Paris. In the minutes following the substitutions, two great saves by Donnarumma prevented Choupo-Moting and Pavard from making it 0-2.
Without showing any collective capacity, PSG needed 73 minutes to build a flagrant opportunity – Mbappé isolated himself, but Sommer blocked the Frenchman’s shot -, and, with Vitinha already on the field (he came in for Danilo), the second PSG’s “7” threat still made the Parisians celebrate, but Nuno Mendes was (a foot) out of the game before assisting Mbappé.
Almost immediately, with another great run down the left, Nuno Mendes offered Messi the equalizer, but Sommer held the null in his goal and the third consecutive defeat of a PSG that, only after the entrance of Mbappé, managed to jeopardize the deserved victory for Bayern, who still played the last three minutes reduced to ten men – Pavard was expelled.
At San Siro, there was also only one goal, but in the duel between AC Milan and Tottenham there was more balance and uncertainty in the result.
With Rafael Leão in the starting line-up, the Italians took the lead in the 7th minute – Brahim Díaz’s headed goal -, and, without either team taking too many risks, the duel remained divided until the end, with opportunities to both sides, but without the result changing again.