Paris Saint-Germain meet Bayern Munich in Sunday night's Champions League final showdown from Lisbon. Mark O'Haire is expecting an entertaining encounter...
"Goal-heavy backers can be encouraged by 10 of the previous 12 knockout matches across both the Champions League and Europa League at neutral venues this month delivering a minimum of three goals"
PSG v Bayern Munich
Sunday August 23, 20:00
PSG in unchartered territory
Paris St-Germain secured their first-ever Champions League final berth courtesy of a deserved 3-0 victory over RB Leipzig in an entertaining semi-final. One of Europe's biggest spenders, but also one of the continent's most high-profile underachievers on the grandest stage, PSG finally seized their opportunity courtesy of goals from Marquinhos, Angel di Maria and Juan Bernat.
The former, who scored the first of two late goals in a comeback win over Atalanta in the last eight, rose to head home a superbly delivered free-kick from Di Maria. The Argentine forward then finished well from close range following an audacious flick from Neymar after Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi had relinquished possession with a dire kick.
With the fit-again Kylian Mbappe and Neymar terrorising the Leipzig backline, the French side should have been out of sight before the break, but the latter twice hit the post - from a clipped finish then an opportunist free-kick from range - before side-footing another chance wide at the near post. Bernat then sealed the win in the second half with a header.
Thomas Tuchel's team were composed, confident and incisive and appeared all the better for the return of Di Maria and Mbappe, whilst key midfielder Marco Verratti made an appearance off the bench. However, Idrissa Gueye and Keylor Navas remain major injury concerns coming into Sunday.
Bayern ease past Lyon
Bayern Munich's relentless march through this season's Champions League continued as they brushed aside Lyon 3-0 to book an 11th appearance in the final of the competition. The victory was the German giants' 20th on he spin and their 10th straight success on the continental stage this season, equalling the record for winning streaks in the competition.
The Bavarians were slow starters on Wednesday, allowing Lyon to rue two very presentable missed opportunities in the opening quarter before Serge Gnabry moved infield and fired a stunning opener for Hansi Flick's favourites, who never looked back thereafter. Gnabry also scored the second before Robert Lewandowski completed the scoring in the second period.
Bayern's win ends their run of having lost the previous four Champions League semi-finals in which they had appeared. It also keeps them on course for a treble of trophies in Flick's stellar debut campaign as coach. FC Hollywood have now returned a remarkable W28-D1-L0 of late, racking up 97 goals during the same streak coming in to Sunday's showdown.
Jerome Boateng is expected to be fit for the final despite picking up a knock in the semi-final. Flick revealed the centre-back had "muscular problems" but should be fine with Niklas Sule waiting in the wings in case the defender fails to recover in time. Bayern are expected to field the same XI for the fourth successive game since returning to action in August.
German giants fair favourites
PSG and Bayern have met eight times in the Champions League era with Les Parisiens surprisingly enjoying the head-to-head advantage (W5-D0-L3). The duo last crossed swords in the 2017/18 group-stage with the home side convincingly prevailing on both occasions. The two teams were ousted in the knockout rounds by eventual winners Real Madrid.
PSG [3.50] have W25-D3-L1 across all competitions since December, including victories over Lyon, Dortmund, Atalanta and RB Leipzig within their last seven fixtures since March. Les Parisiens will undoubtedly feel they can make a major mark on Sunday's opposition, especially so with a fully fit Kylian Mbappe leading the attack against Bayern's high line.
Bayern Munich [2.06] bagged W28-D1-L0 coming into this contest, scoring at a rate of almost 3.50 goals per-game. The teams two defeats under Hansi Flick were smash-and-grab-style jobs and the Bavarians have displayed an unwavering relentlessness and intensity that few sides have managed to match. The Germans are slight value and fair favourites.
Entertaining encounter expected in Lisbon
From a pure footballing perspective, this is arguably the most appealing final from the Last 16 draw. Two top-heavy teams who prefer to attack, score goals and entertain, it has the makings of an absolute cracker and that's reflected in the goals markets where the line has been set at 3.5, slightly favouring Under 3.5 Goals at [1.93].
It's difficult to oppose the high line with an anticipated humdinger ahead. An early goal for either side could lead us towards a basketball encounter and goal-heavy backers can be encouraged by 10 of the previous 12 knockout matches across both the Champions League and Europa League at neutral venues this month delivering a minimum of three goals.
But our preferred play can be found in the Same Game Multi by supporting back A Goal In Both Halves, Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score at a very appealing 1.75. It's a selection that ticks all the boxes and should go very close to landing considering what's expected from Sunday's showdown.
Elsewhere, more adventurous bettors can back Both Teams To Score Over 0.5 Goals In Each Half for a generous 6/1 offer by the same market, a bulbous price considering the 3.60 goals expected by the market.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 187.00 pts
Returned: 207.09 pts
P/L: +20.09 pts