Ninety minutes that could potentially make or break Christophe Galtier’s time in the Paris Saint-Germain hotseat await on Wednesday night, as Bayern Munich welcome the French champions to the Allianz Arena in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 showdown.
A solitary strike from ex-PSG product Kingsley Coman was enough to propel the Bavarians to a 1-0 first-leg win three weeks ago, as a familiar sense of deja vu rears its ugly head for the ardent Parisiens.
Shades of the 2019-20 final arose in the French capital during Bayern’s reunion with PSG, who lost the showpiece event three years ago to a Coman winner, and it was an identical story when the German champions came to town for the first leg of their last-16 tie.
On Valentine’s Day, there was no love lost between Coman and PSG, who succumbed to a 53rd-minute winner from their former academy graduate, and Julian Nagelsmann’s side survived a late sending off for Benjamin Pavard to put one foot firmly in the last eight.
Also halfway there to revenge over PSG for eliminating them in the 2020-21 quarter-finals, Bayern ought to feel hopeful of avoiding just a second last-16 exit from their last 12 Champions League campaigns – the perennial German champions bowed out at this point to Liverpool in 2018-19.
Furthermore, not since the 2010-11 campaign have Bayern been eliminated from the Champions League when winning the first leg of a knockout tie, while 15 of their last 17 top-tier European games at the Allianz Arena have ended in victory, including all three of their group-stage games against Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen this season – with three clean sheets in tow.
Not since April 2018 have Bayern failed to score at home in the Champions League, and Nagelsmann’s men remained in control of the tightly-fought Bundesliga title race thanks to a 2-1 win over Stuttgart on Saturday, only a few hours before a new chapter of history was written for PSG.
While more undesirable defending was a minor blot on the notebook, PSG’s 4-2 win over Nantes in Ligue 1 at the weekend will go down in history for the French champions, who etched Kylian Mbappe’s name into their record books as the club’s all-time top goalscorer.
Level with Edinson Cavani on 200 goals for PSG heading into the contest, Mbappe struck PSG’s fourth and final goal late on before letting emotion take over, but there is little time for the 24-year-old to bask in Parisian glory while their European destiny hangs in the balance, again.
With the axe hovering dangerously above his head, Galtier surely knows what is coming if PSG are eliminated from the Champions League last 16 for the fifth time in seven seasons, and the capital giants have only progressed from one of their six Champions League knockout ties in which they have lost the first leg.
PSG managed to take seven points from their three Champions League group-stage games on the road earlier this season, but not since October 2020 have they managed to keep a European clean sheet away from home – a run of 12 games with their shaky defence being breached.
From the 12 previous meetings between Bayern and PSG, the German champions have six wins to their name, while the French champions have also racked up a half-dozen victories, but Wednesday’s game will prove to be an unlucky 13 for one manager.
Pavard’s late sending off in the first leg means that the Frenchman will serve a one-match suspension here, leaving Nagelsmann with quite the defensive quandary while Lucas Hernandez continues his recovery from his ACL injury.
Should Nagelsmann persist with a back three, Josip Stanisic could line up alongside Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt after all three started the win over Stuttgart, while Manuel Neuer and Noussair Mazraoui are keeping Hernandez company in the medical bay.
The injury-plagued Sadio Mane was able to make an appearance off the bench against Stuttgart, but Nagelsmann has warned the ex-Liverpool man that he must fight for his right to make the starting XI, and another substitute outing is seemingly on the cards for the Senegal international as Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane compete to join Jamal Musiala in the final third.
Meanwhile, PSG have announced that Neymar will now miss the rest of the season as he prepares to undergo ankle surgery, while Presnel Kimpembe (Achilles) is also out for the long term, but Renato Sanches has recovered from a hamstring issue and is in the squad.
In another midfield boost, Marco Verratti is back from a domestic suspension and will likely come in for Warren Zaire-Emery – who will turn 17 on Wednesday – in spite of the teenager’s eye-catching showing during a 57-minute cameo in the first leg.
Over the past week, PSG have been rocked by charges of rape brought against right-back Achraf Hakimi – which the right-back denies – but he is currently free to leave the country and should be available for selection as he battles back from a thigh injury.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Stanisic, Upamecano, De Ligt; Coman, Kimmich, Goretzka, Davies; Sane, Musiala; Choupo-Moting
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Pereira, Marquinhos, Ramos; Hakimi, Ruiz, Verratti, Vitinha, Mendes; Messi, Mbappe