Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates against Lyon in the Champions League semi-finals
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates against Lyon in the Champions League semi-finals Image Credit: PTI

After 12 months, 79 teams, 118 matches and an unprecedented virus lockdown and relocation of the tail-end of the competition, we finally have our final two contenders for Champions League glory.

There will be no Barcelona, no Real Madrid, No Juventus and no English representation. There will be no Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi.


But five-time winners Bayern Munich and star-sprinkled Paris St-Germain will ensure there is plenty of glitz and glamour on show in Lisbon on Sunday night.

Following a host of upsets that saw the early departure of Juve, Real, Barca and Manchester City, and saw the likes of Napoli, Lyon and RB Leipzig reach the latter stages usually reserved for the cream of Europe’s elite.

Bayern are back in the final for the first time since 2013 after ending a streak of four losses in the semi-final stage with Wednesday’s comfortable 3-0 win over Lyon.

PSG are in the big game for the first time, having struggled to translate their dominance of the French league into a real challenge in Europe until wins here over Italian club Atalanta and Germany’s Leipzig secured their place.

For the first time since 1998, the Champions League final will feature two teams who entered the competition as domestic champions, a throwback to the day’s of the old European Cup when only a country’s title winners were allowed to enter.

While no fans will be present to witness the clash at the Estadio da Luz, home of Portuguese club Benfica, millions across the globe will watch the game which is the most-watched annual sports event in the world.

And there is plenty of interest for those outside of Germany and France.

Neymar has been rejuvenated since the restart of the Champions League competition

PSG’s attack is led by Brazil’s biggest star Neymar, the exciting French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and the crafty Argentine winger Angel Di Maria.

It will be fascinating to see if the French side can expose Bayern’s high defensive line which was breached several times by a wasteful Lyon.

“Paris are a great team,” said Bayern coach Hansi Flick, “We will analyse some things, we know they have quick players. We will look to organise our defence, but we know our biggest strength is putting our opponents under pressure.”

Bayern’s top scorer is Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who leads the tournament’s scoring charts with 15 goals this season and has found the target 55 times in all competitions.

The club’s 19-year-old left back Alphonso Davies has been the most exciting young player in the tournament and was born in a refugee camp in Ghana before moving to Canada, who he represents at national team level.

On a tactical level, the final pits two German coaches against each other for only the second time in the tournament’s history.

PSG’s Thomas Tuchel, the former Borussia Dortmund coach, has managed to give the French champion’s expensively assembled squad the balance and steel they have lacked in recent years.

Flick only took over as Bayern coach in November but has had an astonishing impact. Since mid-December, Bayern have enjoyed 28 wins and a solitary draw, scoring 97 goals and conceding just 22.

Bayern, who thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in their quarter-final, also have experience on their side.

The Bavarians have already featured in the European Cup or Champions Leauge final on 10 occasions, winning their fifth title in 2013.

PSG have only reached the last four once before and their best performance in Europe came in the old Cup Winner’s Cup which they won in 1996.

Germany legend Lothar Matthaus warned Bayern to defend deeper against PSG or risk blowing the treble.

Bayern endured a nervous start to Wednesday’s win over Lyon, who wrecked havoc early on by getting in behind the Germans’ defence.

“Bayern had a harder time against Lyon than against Barcelona,” former Bayern midfielder and West Germany captain Matthaus said.

“If they play like that on Sunday, they won’t win the Champions League or live up to the role as favourites.

“Paris have more quality than Barcelona and Lyon, they also have enough players who can put the ball into the key spaces.”