"It's good to see you, Ney, but don't expect any sympathy!" - former PSG forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (l.) could prove key to Bayern Munich overcoming Neymar's (r.) side in the Champions League. - © IMAGO / Poolfoto
"It's good to see you, Ney, but don't expect any sympathy!" - former PSG forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (l.) could prove key to Bayern Munich overcoming Neymar's (r.) side in the Champions League. - © IMAGO / Poolfoto

5 reasons Bayern Munich can STILL beat PSG in the Champions League


Bayern Munich may have been edged 3-2 by Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final, but the defending European champions remain favourites against Neymar and Co., injured Robert Lewandowski or not.

bundesliga.com looks at five reasons Hansi Flick's men should remain optimistic ahead of Tuesday's second leg.

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1) The best team in the world

Bayern's narrow loss to PSG last Wednesday was their first in 20 Champions League assignments - the second-longest run in the competition after Manchester United's 25, set between September 2007 and May 2009. They remain German, European, and indeed world champions, having completed only the second sextuple in football history as recently as February with victory over Mexican side Tigres in the FIFA World Cup final.

Three away goals for Paris means that Bayern need to win by two when the teams reconvene at Parc des Princes next week. The Bavarians put six past Red Bull Salzburg in Austria in the group stage, four beyond Lazio in Italy in the last 16, and scored three against Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park in Der Klassiker in November. Bayern's 4-0 victory over Atletico Madrid may have come in Munich, but it adds further weight to the claim that they still know how to win big, against Europe's best teams. Flick certainly remains optimistic.

"The defeat was unlucky for sure," he said after the first leg reverse. "I think we had 31 shots on goal. Looking at their mentality and way of playing football, I can talk in high terms about my team. We weren't so efficient in scoring goals, but I told the players after the game that we still have one match in Paris and if we can combine everything we can turn it into a positive result. We want to reach the semi-final. That's our goal and the result [on Wednesday] doesn't change anything about that."

Watch: Bayern secured their second continental treble last term

2) Recharged batteries

Lewandowski was hurtling towards Gerd Müller's single-season record of 40 Bundesliga goals before injuring his knee on international duty with Poland. The reigning world player of year has been joined on the sidelines in recent weeks by, among others, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle.

All four were missing from Bayern's 1-1 draw with Union Berlin on Saturday, a game which saw Tiago Dantas, Josip Stanisic, Tanguy Nianzou and Christopher Scott handed debuts. But at least two of the aforementioned - Goretzka and Hernandez - could be back to help the team against PSG, and Alphonso Davies, who was suspended domestically, will definitely be. With the likes of David Alaba and Leroy Sane also spared 90 minutes on Saturday, Bayern figure to be at full force on Wednesday.

PSG, who have lost captain and first leg goalscorer Marquinhos to a groin injury, cannot say the same.

Jamal Musiala has already proved he is ready to step for Bayern up with five goals in all competitions this season. - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

3) Eric Maxim Choupo-MOLE-ing

Lewandowski remains irrepressible and, depending on who you ask, irreplaceable.

Last season, Bayern's No.9 became the first player in history to win the continental treble whilst finishing as the top scorer in each competition. He registered 55 goals in 47 games all told in 2019/20 and added 42 in 36 competitive outings to his scorecard this term before being waylaid by injury. That's a goal every 72 minutes, compared to Kylian Mbappe's 92 minutes-per-goal ratio and Neymar's 118.

Thomas Müller may be the top scorer in FIFA World Cup history among active players, but so far he has remained Bayern's string-pulling No.10 with former PSG striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting leading the line. Bayern were so confident of the Cameroon striker's ability to deputise for Lewandowski that they let Joshua Zirkzee leave on loan to Parma in January. So far they have been proved right. The 32-year-old has scored in his last two Champions League outings - against Lazio and PSG - at a rate of a goal every 55 minutes.

Formerly a back-up to Mbappe and Neymar at PSG, he still turned out 51 times in all competitions under Thomas Tuchel, most notably scoring the goal that secured PSG an injury-time win over Atalanta in last term's Champions League quarter-finals. And while he has never played under current Paris coach Mauricio Pochettino, he can count 10 of the team that started the first leg as former teammates.

Choupo-Moting can divulge PSG's gameplan from the 2019/20 final against Bayern, as well the strengths and weaknesses of his former allies. Fellow French speakers Kingsley Coman, Benjamin Pavard and Hernandez are also expected to start, so they can pick up Paris adjustments on the fly in a way that their opponents cannot to the same degree - with former Schalke star Julian Draxler the likely only German-speaking starter for them.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has scored twice in five Champions League appearances for holders Bayern in 2020/21. - Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

4) The best supporting cast in world football

In a world-class team like Bayern, the danger doesn't just come from the focal point of the attack. No fewer than 18 players in the squad have scored at least one goal this season, with Müller and Gnabry joining Lewandowski by hitting double figures. Müller also tops the Bundesliga assists chart on 15, with Joshua Kimmich (10), Leroy Sane (9) and Coman (9) hot on his heels and helping to power Germany's most prolific attack. While Bayern have some incredible individuals, it is the way they gel as a team that sets them apart.

"The hard work in this team is top quality," Davies told bundesliga.com earlier this season, after becoming the first Canadian to lift the Champions League trophy. "Even though we've won all these trophies, we want more and more, and each time we step on the field we want to show that we are out there to play football and to win games."

Davies, who served up a gorgeous assist for Kimmich in last year's 8-2 demolition of Barcelona, is available despite his domestic suspension and another of the many Bayern players PSG will have to keep an eye on. However Flick sets his team up in the second leg, PSG are going to have their work cut out.

Watch: Bayern's assist kings

5) Manuel Neuer, the greatest of all time

All of Bayern's attacking talent - and silverware over the last decade if club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is to be believed - is underpinned by their captain, Neuer. Mbappe snuck two past him on Wednesday, but still conceded how good the Bayern shot-stopper is.

"I love to play against the best players in the world," he told BT Sport. "And Neuer is one of the best keepers in the history of the game."

Coman may have decided last season's final at the Estadio da Luz, but Neuer provided the foundation for victory with a string of outstanding saves to thwart Neymar and Mbappe, and will be out for to make it 2-1 in his personal head-to-head with Mbappe.

Like a fine French wine, Neuer just seems to keep improving with age, and such is the 35-year-old's importance in Flick's current setup that No.2 keeper Alexander Nübel has been limited to just three outings in all competitions this term when little was on the line. Another couple of vintage performances from the Bayern captain against PSG is likely to see the Bavarian juggernauts reach the semi-finals for the eighth time in 10 years.

Watch: Neuer under the tactical microscope

Bayern may have their work cut out, but if anyone can bounce back from conceding three away goals, it's them.