The snow falling in large flakes on the lawn of the Allianz Arena on an April evening presaged an irrational scenario from the start. This Wednesday April 7, Paris Saint-Germain will surely thank its lucky star. Cornered in its own camp and dominated by a Bayern Munich who did not wish to put on gloves, Paris Saint-Germain should have lost in the quarter-final first leg of the Champions League. But the capital club will leave Bavaria with the scalp of the defending champion (3-2), who remained on a crazy series of 19 matches without defeat in the most prestigious European competition.
Lethal Mbappé, decisive Neymar
The feat is as phenomenal as it is improbable as the confrontation was dominated by Bayern who obtained 31 shots, against only six for the Parisians. Despite very complicated ball outs and a defense huddled in its own penalty area, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have managed to fully exploit their rare opportunities. The Argentinian had targeted the spaces left by the very high block of the Bavarians. The three goals scored tonight were after a search for vertical play, behind the opposing defense.
Kylian Mbappé had decided to put on the dress for great evenings again; the one who had made him shine in the eyes of Europe against Barcelona in the previous round. He particularly shone by his lethality in the face of goal. It was he who opened the scoring after only two minutes of play and it was again he who gave the advantage to the capital club when Bayern had just come back to the score (68th). The first time, Manuel Neuer was unable to repel a strike that was nevertheless very axial. The second, Mbappé took advantage of a tiny angle of fire to shoot him on the spot by choosing the near post after a subtle feint.
It is by avoiding wanting to be omnipresent that the French marked the spirits. Neymar did the same. Under fire from critics after his expulsion against Lille four days earlier in Ligue 1, the Brazilian played simple and delivered two skillfully balanced assists. He first shifted Mbappé at the right time on the opening goal, before sending a wonderful diving center of 40 meters eliminating the entire opposing block to offer the second goal to Marquinhos (28th), who had just asked to be replaced.
Navas, the uncompromising
And for the robbery to be perfect, Paris Saint-Germain needed a lookout, to ensure the rear. Obviously, Keylor Navas pulled out all the stops. The Costa Rican goalkeeper simply made 10 saves to concede only two goals. “We lacked efficiency and realism“, preferred to retain Benjamin Pavard, the right-back of Bayern who saw two of his strikes out of the frame by Navas. One of his centers on the other hand found the victorious header of Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting for the reduction of the score 2-1 (37th). The former Parisian is the only one with Thomas Müller, from the head on an indirect free kick in the 60th minute of play, to have succeeded in deceiving the vigilance of the PSG goalkeeper.
If the content of the Bavarian match promises, in the second leg, hell for the Parisian defense, accustomed to tremble in the knockout phase of the Champions League, Bayern will almost be forced to win by two goals away at the Parc des Princes Tuesday April 13. An ideal situation to knock the Bavarian ogre off its pedestal. It remains to be seen whether the Parisian mistakes seen at Camp Nou, during the eighth return to Barça (1-1), will have enabled us to learn the lesson.