Two heavyweights square off in Lisbon on Sunday for the chance to lift the Champions League trophy in 2020. Both clubs win their domestic leagues every year, with the Champions League as a significant goal for both sides. This should be exciting brand of soccer we get to watch, and I can’t wait for the chess match to unfold.
Bayern Munich (+ 105) vs Paris Saint-Germain (+ 220)
Bayern Munich have been the best club in European soccer since all of these leagues restarted in June. They are undefeated since then and have looked like the most complete side in the world. They made light work of Chelsea in the round of 16, famously destroyed Lionel Messi and Barcelona, and got past Lyon by a score of 3-0.
Bayern plays a high line and lets their fullbacks, especially Alphonso Davies, push up field in attack. Because of this, they are often leaky at the back. You saw this in the Lyon match, as Lyon had three fantastic chances on the counter but just didn’t convert them. With Mbappe and Neymar out wide for PSG, Bayern needs to be more careful how they use their fullbacks in this match. Hansi Flick has usually managed the club aggressively, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a bit more tactical here given the stage.
Paris Saint-Germain are one of the more divisive clubs in the world – they are more of a group of individuals than it is a team. If there is a down year or a problem, they just throw money at it, but they are nonetheless a top-five team in terms of talent. Mbappe is on the short list of younger players (20) that could take Messi and Ronaldo’s spot as best in the world. Neymar has a bit more experience and is also a top-five player when he is at his best. And Angel Di Maria was man of the match against Leipzig.
They also have been surprisingly good at the back as well, conceding very few goals. PSG won with and expected goal (xG) differential of 3.6-1.1 vs Leipzig (3-0 score line). They have the quality and the explosiveness to score a few on Bayern, but likely will give Bayern some chances to score as well.
This is a pretty fascinating match to handicap. Both clubs are stacked with attacking talent and are a bit lacking on the defensive side. I’m staying away from the total of 3.5, but would lean under. I think this match could have a cagey start, and 3.5 is a high total. It wouldn’t surprise me if Flick was more cautious with his fullbacks to start at least. European finals are historically anything but shootouts.
I like Bayern 1H + 155 and ML + 105. I’ve talked about this before, but Bayern take an early lead often, including in Champions League. They averaged 1.28 xG per first half in the Bundesliga and have scored in the first half in three of four UCL matches since the round of 16 (+ 155 is great value for that). While it isn’t outlandish to pick Bayern to win in 90 minutes, I believe they are the better side. Flick will get this right tactically, and the Germans prevail.
Picks: Bayern 1H + 155, Bayern ML + 105, Lean under 3.5 -110