A titanic showdown awaits as PSG prepare to welcome Bayern Munich to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday evening.
It’s also set to be a reunion for Carlo Ancelotti, as he will take on many of his former charges with die Roten. This match would certainly be fitting of a round of 16, quarter-finals, or semi-finals clash, and perhaps fans may see a re-match of it in the latter stages of the competition. Both PSG and Bayern Munich are coming into this game off the back of disappointing results in their respective domestic fixtures. For die Roten, they ended up throwing away a 2 goal advantage against Wolfsburg.
Ironically, Bayern took on the same opponents on the same day at the same arena that Robert Lewandowski made history. On September 22, 2015, Bayern were 1-0 down against Wolfsburg at half-time. Pep Guardiola brought on Lewandowski in the second half and the Polish international netted five goals in nine minutes to turn the game on its head. There would be no such heroics this time around. Die Roten had a comfortable 2-0 lead at the first 45, but this time, it was Wolfsburg to pull off the heroics and bravely fight back to secure a 2-2 draw.
The fact that Manuel Neuer suffered another injury setback, meaning that Sven Ulreich had to feature in goal certainly didn’t help, and certainly won’t help Bayern’s cause here. Ulreich is the second-choice shot-stopper and for good reason, and appeared rusty and unsure of himself. The goals he conceded, especially the first one, was a rather embarrassing one that he surely will still be kicking himself for as it was a rather ghastly error that he could have prevented.
PSG certainly will be fancying their chances at taking on a Bayern side sans the services of Neuer, who is among the top shot-stoppers in the world. Les Parisiens saw their 100 per cent winning record disappear at the weekend as they were held to a scoreless draw with Montpellier. The reason? One-third of their newly created potent attack was missing. A foot injury was given as the “official” cause for Neymar’s absence, but some wondered if it had to do with the recent storm brewing following a squabble between the world’s most expensive player and star striker Edinson Cavani over spot-kick duties.
With that still not settled – Cavani reportedly turned down a one-million euro bonus to give up his position as the penalty kick taker – Unai Emery still has a major issue on his hands. However, both stars are expected to feature nonetheless, alongside Kylian Mbappe in this fixture, and so will have to put their petty problems aside to focus on the task at hand, albeit it will be quite interesting to see if a penalty situation does arise. In terms of personnel, PSG are only missing Javier Pastore, with Angel Di Maria now making a return to the squad. Bayern, as noted before are without the services of Neuer, as well as Juan Bernat, whilst David Alaba and Thiago could be in doubt for this one.
In short, without Neuer, and PSG’s front three showing what they can offer during their demolition of Celtic, it looks like this showdown could firmly be settled in favor of Les Parisiens. The question is, will the Neymar-Cavani squabble threaten to overshadow and scupper the advantage they have?