Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer got to lift the trophy first when his side beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the 2020 UEFA Champions League final. - © Frank Hoermann/ SVEN SIMON/SVEN SIMON/ Frank Hoermann/ Pool
Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer got to lift the trophy first when his side beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the 2020 UEFA Champions League final. - © Frank Hoermann/ SVEN SIMON/SVEN SIMON/ Frank Hoermann/ Pool

How Bayern Munich beat Paris Saint-Germain to win the 2020 UEFA Champions League


Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have had some dramatic tussles over the years, but the most famous meeting of all went the Germans' way.

Follow the last-16 second leg encounter in Munich here! reflects on how Bayern were crowned kings of Europe for a sixth time by beating the French side in the 2020 UEFA Champions League final.

It was the year it all went right for Bayern. Between June 2020 and February 2021, they won everything they possibly could - a sextuple that only Pep Guardiola and Barcelona had managed before.

To win six successive trophies, however, Bayern first had to complete a more traditional - albeit rarely achieved - treble of league, cup and Champions League triumphs.

The Bundesliga title had been secured weeks previously, with Hansi Flick finishing his first campaign as head coach with his team 13 points clear of nearest challenger Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick was rightly lauded after the 2020 Champions League final. - Frank Hoermann/ SVEN SIMON/SVEN SIMON/ Frank Hoermann/ Pool

Bayer Leverkusen had given it their best shot as well, but Bayern prevailed 4-2 in the DFB Cup final.

A season to savour

In Europe, meanwhile, Bayern seemed unstoppable in that 2019/20 season. This was the year of 24 goals in the group stage - including four for Serge Gnabry in a 7-2 win at Tottenham. Robert Lewandowski achieved something similar in a 6-0 victory at Red Star Belgrade, with his four-goal haul in that game in Serbia part of 15 strikes from Matchday 1 to the final. Not surprisingly, the prolific Pole finished as the Champions League's top goalscorer that season.

After the coronavirus pandemic had put a stop to football midway through the campaign, however, it would have been understandable for Bayern's levels to drop on their return. Their last European game before coronavirus interrupted was a hugely impressive one - when Alphonso Davies tore through Chelsea during a 3-0 last-16 win in February 2020.

Six months later when the competition resumed Bayern were every bit as effective as they closed in on their first treble since 2012/13. They beat Chelsea 4-1 in Munich in the second leg of their clash, and then made for Lisbon for a unique set of one-legged ties involving the last eight teams standing.

Bayern shocked the world in the first of them, crushing Lionel Messi and Barcelona's hopes with an 8-2 demolition in the quarter-final. Lyon provided more of a scare in the semis but met the same fate. Gnabry and Lewandowski were both on target as Flick's side won out on a 3-0 scoreline.

That left only PSG, who must have felt their name was written on the trophy that year.

PSG's year? 

Success on the European stage was what their Qatari owners had dreamed of since taking over the club in 2011.

It was what Neymar had moved to the French capital for in 2017.

And it was why they had hired a man Bayern knew well: former Borussia Dortmund and Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel. PSG had suffered a succession of unfortunate and often unexpected failures in the Champions League, but Tuchel seemed to have changed their luck.

Former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel would watch his PSG side's UEFA Champions League hopes slip away against Bayern Munich. - Peter Schatz/SVEN SIMON/ Peter Schatz/ Pool

In the last eight, after all, they had come back from the dead against Atalanta. Marquinhos levelled in the 90th minute of that match before future Bayern forward Eric Choupo Maxim-Moting got the winner in the 93rd.

Brazilian star Neymar was sharp in the semi-final against RB Leipzig, with former Bayern full-back Juan Bernat on the scoresheet in a 3-0 victory.

PSG had previously topped their group ahead of Real Madrid as well as edging Erling Haaland and Dortmund in the last 16. So there was a strong feeling in Paris going into the final that they could finally become only the second French team - after Marseille in 1993 - to be crowned European champions.

Neymar & Co. were not short on confidence, and they would have been encouraged by the chances Lyon created against Bayern's high defensive line. The German champions, though, did what they do best when things are going well.

Eric Choupo Maxim-Moting (l.) and Germany attacker Julian Draxler (2nd l.) were part of the PSG team that lost to Bayern Munich in 2020. - Frank Hoermann/ SVEN SIMON via images/Sven Simon

"It wasn't so much of a celebration in the dressing room, but more of a focus on the final already," Joshua Kimmich stressed after Lewandowski took his tally to 55 goals for the season with a brilliant header against Lyon. "That's what characterises us at the moment."

Neuer the wall

PSG certainly represented a significant obstacle. As well as Neymar and 2018 World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, they also had future world champions Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria in their starting XI. Brazilian pair Thiago Silva and Marquinhos would be hard to get the better off for Bayern's attackers - as would former Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Manuel Neuer represented a serious problem for PSG as well though. The Parisians had scored in their previous 34 Champions League games but - on the eve of the final - Mbappe highlighted how influential Bayern and Germany's captain could be.

"Neuer is one of the greatest goalkeepers in football history," the France forward said. "When you want to be the best you have to beat the best."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (l.) foiled Kylian Mbappe (r.) during the 2020 UEFA Champions League final. - MANU FERNANDEZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

When the action finally got underway at the Estadio da Luz, star players from both sides had their moments. First Neuer made a huge save from Neymar and then Lewandowski turned sharply only to see his effort come back off the post.

Di Maria fired over when well placed before Jerome Boateng had to be replaced by Niklas Süle for Bayern, and then Navas kept out a Lewandowski header.

Mbappe shot straight at Neuer right on half-time before Bayern made an ultimately decisive breakthrough on 59 minutes. Kimmich lofted a ball to the far post for Kingsley Coman and the French winger planted a header across Navas and into the far corner.

With Thiago masterful in midfield, Bayern finished with over 60 percent of the ball - and could have scored again. Neuer was forced into one more point-blank save from Marquinhos before the end, though, and he was widely hailed for his performance.

"Manu made two very important saves," Oliver Kahn - the current Bayern CEO and himself a Champions League winner with the club in 2001 - told Sky in the immediate aftermath. "I said yesterday that even though he isn't often kept busy all game, he's always there in the key moments. That's what makes a great goalkeeper."

Kingsley Coman headed home the only goal for Bayern to see off PSG in Lisbon. - Peter Schatz/Peter Schatz

Coman the hero

Perhaps it was fitting, though, that a PSG academy graduate had decided the match. Frustrated by a lack of opportunities in his home city, Coman had left the French side for Juventus in 2014. A year after that, Bayern and the Bundesliga allowed the wide man to express the full range of his talents.

"We tried to put them under a lot of pressure - they played on the counter attack," an ecstatic Coman told French station RMC after the win. "We didn't concede a goal - and that's the most important thing. Paris had a great game and so did we. It was a great final."

While Coman's goal won the game, Flick's coaching made the difference. He had brought the matchwinner into the starting XI for the day in place of Ivan Perisic, one of several crucial changes the current Germany coach had made over the season to transform his side's fortunes.

Then Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said he had "never seen a team as determined" as the squad that beat PSG, while Flick felt they had delivered a "complete team performance".

When at last the final whistle sounded in Lisbon, Thomas Müller was able to celebrate his second Champions League title with Bayern. - Peter Schatz/Peter Schatz

Flick's ability to get the team fighting together with such incredible concentration and commitment had been rewarded. He had taken on the head coaching role from Niko Kovac in November 2019, when Bayern were fourth in the Bundesliga after a 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt.

"Back in November you could read in the press that no one should have been afraid of Bayern, that they shouldn't have respected Bayern, because it was such a bad side," he declared after the final. "So I think we really have produced sensational progress since then.

"I really think we deserved it tonight, based on what the team have produced over the last 10 months - particularly all season long in the Champions League. It's been incredible."

A speical team

Thomas Müller - who like Neuer, Boateng and David Alaba had featured in the 2-1 win over Dortmund in the 2013 decider - was in a similar frame of mind. The one-club man had been out of favour under Kovac but returned to his brilliant best on Flick's watch. A tireless leader on the pitch, he had netted twice in the remarkable rout of Barcelona.

"It feels incredible," said Müller after the PSG win. "We've come relatively far from how we felt in the autumn. And then we went on a run that was sensational. We've also deserved this feeling. We have the team spirit - the boys are ready to toil."

With victory over PSG, Bayern had won all 15 of their matches since football restarted after the coronavirus lockdown. It took their overall record to 29 wins and one draw in their previous 30 outings. Another player who epitomised the Flick era, midfield schemer Kimmich - like Müller - suggested his side was a special one.

"It's the biggest day of my career," he said. "I can't describe what it means to be on the pitch with a team like this one."

Success against an expensively assembled PSG gave a good indication of what it must feel like. Bayern's victory in Lisbon meant they became the first club in any European competition to win all of their matches on the way to lifting the trophy. They did so in emphatic style too - scoring 43 goals in 11 Champions League games that season.

The final victory in Portugal also meant that the Bavarians broke the all-time winning run in the history of the competition.

It was the perfect end to a perfect season on the pitch for Bayern.

Mark Rodden