The scene is set at Parc des Princes for an epic tomorrow.
PSG, 3-2 in front, must surely start as favourite, but If there’s a team than can bottle a European lead, there no-one quite like them. Not only that, in Bayern they’re facing the team that many would consider the best equipped not only to overturn a deficit, but to go on and win the whole thing for the second year in succession.
It would appear that Parisien households are in for an anxious and nervy evening. Those in Bavaria, by nature more bullish and confident, will be expecting their team to prevail.
Mauricio Pochettini, a finalist with Tottenham in 2019 less than two years ago, will be most concerned about not having his captain Marquinhos available. The Argentinian has admitted the Brazilian is most unlikely to start, but could be amongst his subs bench.
Bayern did not manage to score before Marquinhos went of injured in the first-leg, after which they managed to score twice.
PSG’s could indeed be a heavy bench with Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi, recent recoveries from Covid in contention for a place, but Poch is unlikely to risk both, or maybe either, from the start.
They do still have Mbappe and Neymar however and either one could easily be the match winner.
Even though he returned to running this week in the Bavarian snow, Bayern’s top marksman, Robert Lewandowski is not expected to be declared fit. It could mean the appearance of yet another star on the bench for this match.
The knee injury which kept the Pole out of his country’s recent match with England was expected, through initial prognosis, to keep him sidelined for 4 weeks. Should he start tomorrow it would be nothing short of a minor miracle.
But Bayern is less dependent on Lewandowski than what PSG is on Neymar and Mbappe, an assertion that will not be lost on the Parisiens.
Pochettino’s dilemma is how to approach the game. Sitting back could spell disaster and neither would it utilize PSG’s two greatest assets, yet going all out to kill the game early could play into Bayern hands and should the Germans gain momentum it will be difficult to turn the red tide.
Sadly it seems these days the Champions League only tends to get interesting from this stage onwards, with much of what happens before, fairly mundane and boring. Tomorrow’s is certain to be a fascinating clash and an incredibly difficult one to call.
I can see Bayern coming back from what was once a three goal deficit, but they will probably need to score at least three in regulation time to provide the platform for success.
Sit back, fasten your seat-belts, this could be quite a night... yet sadly no-one will be there to witness it.