The knockout stages may have changed due to unprecedented circumstances, but there will no asterisk next to this season’s Champions League winners.
The coronavirus pandemic forced UEFA to relocate teams to Portugal for one-off knockout games rather than the usual two-legged fixtures, with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the last teams standing.
When they go head-to-head at the Estadio da Luz on Sunday, Bayern will be aiming to complete a treble and deny PSG a first taste of Champions League success and a quadruple.
With the help of Opta, we look back at their respective campaigns and see how they got to this weekend’s showpiece.
Top spot in Group A was always likely to be determined by the results between PSG and Real Madrid, so the Ligue 1 side scoring their first Champions League victory over the Spanish giants in the opening game and inflicting what was Zinedine Zidane’s heaviest defeat at the helm – a 3-0 loss – certainly laid down a marker.
Keylor Navas made 10 saves in the second game at the Santiago Bernabeu and PSG came from two goals down to salvage a draw – the first team to do that to Madrid in the Champions League since Borussia Dortmund in December 2016.
They were the only goals Thomas Tuchel’s side let in during the group stage, meaning that, under the current format, only Madrid (three times) have reached the knockout stages while conceding no more than two goals in their six group matches on more occasions than PSG (2019-20 and 2015-16).
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) December 2, 2019
Dortmund won the first game 2-1 but they were eliminated from a major European two-legged tie after winning the opening encounter for only the second time in their history, also falling out at the last 16 stage during the 1987-88 UEFA Cup to Club Brugge.
Neymar added to his valuable away goal in the first leg with the opener in the return match behind closed doors at the Parc des Princes prior to the coronavirus-enforced break, and Juan Bernat completed a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
PSG looked set for further Champions League disappointment when they fell behind to Atalanta midfielder Mario Pasalic’s wonderful strike. Everything changed in the space of two minutes and 29 seconds, though, as Marquinhos equalised before substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting turned in the winner in second-half stoppage time.
Kylian Mbappe played just 30 minutes off the bench, having been troubled by an ankle injury, and nine of PSG’s 16 shots came while he was on the pitch, with no player having more attempts on target than his two.
While his finishing may have been lacking, Neymar also played a starring role. He completed 16 dribbles – the most by a player in a single Champions League game since Lionel Messi against Manchester United in April 2008 – had 113 touches, created four chances for his team-mates, contested 33 duels and drew nine fouls.
Obrigado meu DEUS pic.twitter.com/NO9mWXHXgp
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) August 19, 2020
PSG’s wait for a spot in the final for the first time ended as they beat RB Leipzig 3-0 in their 110th game in the competition – the most played by a side before reaching their maiden showpiece, surpassing Arsenal’s record of 90 between 1971 and 2006.
Angel Di Maria scored one and assisted two against Leipzig. Since his Champions League debut on September 18, 2007, only Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (32 each) have provided more assists in the competition than the Argentinian (27).
By setting up Di Maria for PSG’s second, Neymar made it 59 goal involvements in 59 Champions League appearances (35 goals, 24 assists), including 23 in 19 outings for PSG (14 goals, nine assists).
History was made by Bayern as they racked up a maximum 18 points and a goal difference of +19 – the best performance by a team in the Champions League group stage.
Robert Lewandowski scored 10 goals in the process, a tally only bettered by Ronaldo for Madrid in 2015-16 (11 goals).
The highlight of their group-stage campaign came in the form of a 7-2 thumping of Tottenham in north London, which was the biggest home defeat of any English side in European competition. Serge Gnabry scored four and set up one for Lewandowski as Bayern showed they were going to take some serious stopping.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 19, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic meant over five months passed between the first and second leg, but the tie was effectively over after Bayern romped to a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge in the opening encounter.
A 4-1 triumph at the Allianz Arena followed, with Lewandowski directly involved in all seven of Bayern’s goals (three scored, four assisted). He consequently became the first player to register at least three goals and three assists against an opponent in a season since Luis Figo against Roma in 2004-05.
The ruthless streak Bayern showed against Tottenham returned as they humiliated Barcelona 8-2 at the Estadio da Luz.
Hansi Flick’s side became the first team in Champions League history to scored eight goals in a knockout match, and the first in Europe’s premier club competition since Madrid defeated Wacker Innsbruck 9-1 in the last 16 in 1990-91.
It was the first time Barca had conceded eight goals in a match since 1946 and by getting two of them, Thomas Muller took his tally against the Catalan giants in the Champions League to six – more than any other player has scored against them in the competition’s history.
8 – Barcelona conceded eight goals in a game for the first time since losing 8-0 to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey Last 16 in 1946. Collapse @ChampionsLeague #ChampionsLeague #FCBFCB pic.twitter.com/JfIe8ZyGjl
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 14, 2020
Bayern made it 10 consecutive Champions League wins with a 3-0 triumph over Lyon, equalling the longest victorious streak by a team in the competition’s history (achieved by Madrid in 2015 and in 2013).
The Germans took their tally for the tournament to 42 goals – just three shy of Barca’s record of 45 set in 1999-2000, when they played 16 games – and Lewandowski was on target for a ninth straight Champions League match, becoming only the second player in the competition’s history to net 15 goals in a single campaign.
A hat-trick in the final would see him surpass Ronaldo’s all-time record.
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