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Friday, 04 December 2020

Bayern’s win soothes frayed nerves

Still smarting from their loss to Zamalek, some Ahly supporters found solace in Bayern Munich’s win over Paris St Germain in the Champions League final

Abeer Anwar , Abeer Anwar , Tuesday 25 Aug 2020
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Putting aside their concerns over the coronavirus, Egyptians flocked en masse to street cafes to watch Sunday night’s European Champions League final.

Bayern Munich’s 1-0 win over Paris St Germain in Lisbon to claim the crown for the sixth time may have slightly appeased some Egyptians who were cheering for Bayern if only because they were expected to win. This was especially true of Ahly supporters who only a day before saw their team lose 3-1 to arch-rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian domestic league. Ahly fans wanted to at least get behind a winner, even if the victorious team was foreign.

Most Egyptian spectators were youths who booked their places in groups a day or even two beforehand, paying a deposit. Some cafes rented rooms for those who wanted to enjoy the match in private.

“Bayern Munich has not lost a single match and they deserved to win,” said Omar Gala, one spectator.

On the other hand, some were cheering PSG for the sake of the Brazilian star Neymar who was an Egyptian crowd favourite when he was with Barcelona. “Neymar is a big star and he did his utmost during the match. I wished he could win the title just once with PSG,” commented Ali Tarek.

Scenes of fully-packed cafes were not only in Cairo but were repeated in the governorates. Along with young people there were women and families who seemed to go for Neymar and cheered him on up until the last minute. Shouts and cries were heard whenever he missed a shot.

But in the end, Kingsley Coman’s second-half goal decided the final at the Estadio da Luz in Bayern’s favour, allowing them to become European champions for the sixth time and denying PSG victory in their first appearance in club football’s biggest game.

An ex-PSG player who started his football career there, Coman scored for Bayern Munich at the 59th minute with a header at the far post from Joshua Kimmich’s cross.

It was a night of joy for Bayern coach Hansi Flick who added the Champions League to the Bundesliga after initially taking over as interim coach from sacked Niko Kovac in November.

In contrast, it was a night of bitter disappointment for PSG’s two attacking superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe who failed to produce their best and found themselves frustrated by Bayern keeper and man of the match Manuel Neuer when they had the best of the first-half chances.

Mbappe’s pain increased in the second half when he looked to be tripped by Kimmich in the area, but PSG’s penalty claims were ignored, leaving Bayern to celebrate being crowned champions of Europe once more, becoming the first team to win the trophy by winning every Champions League game in a single campaign.

Bayern fully merited their sixth triumph in this tournament, an all-consuming machine that demonstrated graphically that they could overpower teams with attacking prowess but also showed the grit, determination and organisation to frustrate PSG’s attacking golden boys Mbappe and Neymar.

And huge credit must go to coach Flick, who has guided Bayern to 21 successive victories, reviving and inspiring Bayern after emerging from the shadows when Kovac was sacked in November and the club in crisis.

Flick also illustrated his ability to make the big calls, selecting Coman ahead of the influential Croat Ivan Perisic and being rewarded with that decisive moment just before the hour.

Bayern also leant heavily on one of the great figures of the club’s successes, keeper Neuer, who was at his magnificent best to stand toe-to-toe with Neymar in those crucial first-half duels and make the saves that made such a huge contribution to this victory.

Bayern’s status as European champions is deserved, having won every game in the tournament this season, not only having the ability to produce blistering performances of the sort that overwhelmed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-final and frustrate PSG’s threat in the final.

PSG looked to the two great superstars Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead their assault on the trophy they crave most after such lavish investment, but they were unable to break down the Bayern Munich barrier.

The pair had chances, especially in the first half, but their finishing was not at its best and the imposing figure of Neuer denied them, with Mbappe’s bad miss at the end of the opening period proving a pivotal moment.

This has been PSG’s best Champions League campaign but this will not ease the pain of defeat for the players or coach Thomas Tuchel, who must now revamp his side as experienced captain and defensive pivot Thiago Silva leaves the club.

 

TALE OF THE TEAMS:

Bayern have won the European Cup/Champions League for a sixth time (level with Liverpool) and for the first time since 2012-13. Only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (7) have been crowned champions on more occasions.

PSG failed to score in a game in a major European competition for the first time in 35 matches, last failing to do so in a 1-0 defeat by Manchester City in April 2016.

Each of the past seven teams competing in their first European Cup/Champions League final have all lost, with the last first-time winners being Borussia Dortmund in 1997 against Juventus.

On only four previous occasions has a manager older than Bayern boss Hansi Flick (55y 181d) won the Champions League (Raymond Goethals with Marseille in 1993 - 71, Jupp Heynckes with Bayern Munich in 2013 - 68 and Alex Ferguson with Man Utd in 1999 and 2008 - 57 and 66).

Bayern became just the third side in Champions League history to hit the 500-goal mark in the competition (500 goals in total), after Barcelona (517) and Real Madrid (567).

Bayern attacker Kingsley Coman became the fifth Frenchman to score in a Champions League final (Karim Benzema 2018, Zinedine Zidane 2002, Marcel Desailly 1994 and Basile Boli 1993).

Hans-Jorg Butt (Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen) and Edwin van der Sar (Man Utd and Ajax). PSG’s Keylor Navas is the third goalkeeper to appear in a Champions League final with two different teams – previously with Real Madrid - after

Thiago Silva is the first Brazilian to start a European Cup/Champions League final as captain.

Putting aside their concerns over the coronavirus, Egyptians flocked en masse to street cafes to watch Sunday night’s European Champions League final.

Bayern Munich’s 1-0 win over Paris St Germain in Lisbon to claim the crown for the sixth time may have slightly appeased some Egyptians who were cheering for Bayern if only because they were expected to win. This was especially true of Ahly supporters who only a day before saw their team lose 3-1 to arch-rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian domestic league. Ahly fans wanted to at least get behind a winner, even if the victorious team was foreign.

Most Egyptian spectators were youths who booked their places in groups a day or even two beforehand, paying a deposit. Some cafes rented rooms for those who wanted to enjoy the match in private.

“Bayern Munich has not lost a single match and they deserved to win,” said Omar Gala, one spectator.

On the other hand, some were cheering PSG for the sake of the Brazilian star Neymar who was an Egyptian crowd favourite when he was with Barcelona. “Neymar is a big star and he did his utmost during the match. I wished he could win the title just once with PSG,” commented Ali Tarek.

Scenes of fully-packed cafes were not only in Cairo but were repeated in the governorates. Along with young people there were women and families who seemed to go for Neymar and cheered him on up until the last minute. Shouts and cries were heard whenever he missed a shot.

But in the end, Kingsley Coman’s second-half goal decided the final at the Estadio da Luz in Bayern’s favour, allowing them to become European champions for the sixth time and denying PSG victory in their first appearance in club football’s biggest game.

An ex-PSG player who started his football career there, Coman scored for Bayern Munich at the 59th minute with a header at the far post from Joshua Kimmich’s cross.

It was a night of joy for Bayern coach Hansi Flick who added the Champions League to the Bundesliga after initially taking over as interim coach from sacked Niko Kovac in November.

In contrast, it was a night of bitter disappointment for PSG’s two attacking superstars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe who failed to produce their best and found themselves frustrated by Bayern keeper and man of the match Manuel Neuer when they had the best of the first-half chances.

Mbappe’s pain increased in the second half when he looked to be tripped by Kimmich in the area, but PSG’s penalty claims were ignored, leaving Bayern to celebrate being crowned champions of Europe once more, becoming the first team to win the trophy by winning every Champions League game in a single campaign.

Bayern fully merited their sixth triumph in this tournament, an all-consuming machine that demonstrated graphically that they could overpower teams with attacking prowess but also showed the grit, determination and organisation to frustrate PSG’s attacking golden boys Mbappe and Neymar.

And huge credit must go to coach Flick, who has guided Bayern to 21 successive victories, reviving and inspiring Bayern after emerging from the shadows when Kovac was sacked in November and the club in crisis.

Flick also illustrated his ability to make the big calls, selecting Coman ahead of the influential Croat Ivan Perisic and being rewarded with that decisive moment just before the hour.

Bayern also leant heavily on one of the great figures of the club’s successes, keeper Neuer, who was at his magnificent best to stand toe-to-toe with Neymar in those crucial first-half duels and make the saves that made such a huge contribution to this victory.

Bayern’s status as European champions is deserved, having won every game in the tournament this season, not only having the ability to produce blistering performances of the sort that overwhelmed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-final and frustrate PSG’s threat in the final.

PSG looked to the two great superstars Neymar and Mbappe to spearhead their assault on the trophy they crave most after such lavish investment, but they were unable to break down the Bayern Munich barrier.

The pair had chances, especially in the first half, but their finishing was not at its best and the imposing figure of Neuer denied them, with Mbappe’s bad miss at the end of the opening period proving a pivotal moment.

This has been PSG’s best Champions League campaign but this will not ease the pain of defeat for the players or coach Thomas Tuchel, who must now revamp his side as experienced captain and defensive pivot Thiago Silva leaves the club.

 

TALE OF THE TEAMS:

Bayern have won the European Cup/Champions League for a sixth time (level with Liverpool) and for the first time since 2012-13. Only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (7) have been crowned champions on more occasions.

PSG failed to score in a game in a major European competition for the first time in 35 matches, last failing to do so in a 1-0 defeat by Manchester City in April 2016.

Each of the past seven teams competing in their first European Cup/Champions League final have all lost, with the last first-time winners being Borussia Dortmund in 1997 against Juventus.

On only four previous occasions has a manager older than Bayern boss Hansi Flick (55y 181d) won the Champions League (Raymond Goethals with Marseille in 1993 - 71, Jupp Heynckes with Bayern Munich in 2013 - 68 and Alex Ferguson with Man Utd in 1999 and 2008 - 57 and 66).

Bayern became just the third side in Champions League history to hit the 500-goal mark in the competition (500 goals in total), after Barcelona (517) and Real Madrid (567).

Bayern attacker Kingsley Coman became the fifth Frenchman to score in a Champions League final (Karim Benzema 2018, Zinedine Zidane 2002, Marcel Desailly 1994 and Basile Boli 1993).

Hans-Jorg Butt (Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen) and Edwin van der Sar (Man Utd and Ajax). PSG’s Keylor Navas is the third goalkeeper to appear in a Champions League final with two different teams – previously with Real Madrid - after

Thiago Silva is the first Brazilian to start a European Cup/Champions League final as captain.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 August, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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