In the first leg of their Champions League Last 16 tie at the Parc des Princes, Kingsley Coman returned to haunt Paris Saint-Germain once again as 10-man Bayern Munich won 1-0. The Parisian, who scored the winner against his former club in the 2020 final, continued his recent good form in front of goal by firing a 53rd-minute volley underneath the body of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Despite the news that Lionel Messi was fit to start, it was the pace of Kylian Mbappe that PSG clearly missed in a one-sided first half. Mbappe was a surprise inclusion on the bench following a thigh problem, and Bayern dominated the ball while probing the hosts’ penalty area in the opening 45 minutes.
PSG lacked the mobility to force the visitors’ high line back, and Donnarumma’s fine save from Joshua Kimmich’s low drive was the pick of their nine attempts. However, the Bavarians had little to show for it in terms of clear-cut openings.
The pattern continued after the restart, and it was no surprise when Kingsley Coman finally gave the away side the lead when he converted substitute Alphonso Davies’ cross. Eric Choupo-Moting twice went close to doubling the advantage, with PSG left with no alternative but to gamble on the fitness of Mbappe and introduce him into the one-sided affair. The France international responded and forced an excellent save out of Yann Sommer before having a goal chalked off by VAR for offside in the build-up.
A resurgent PSG pushed and threatened right at the end but could not rescue it, despite the German outfit seeing Benjamin Pavard dismissed for a second yellow card. On this evidence, Bayern will be confident of completing the job in the return leg in Germany on March 8, but assuming they will face a fully fit Mbappe at the Allianz Arena, PSG will no doubt represent a tougher proposition.
The talking point of the match was PSG’s hopes hanging on the fitness of Mbappe. For an hour, Bayern Munich was in total control and looked capable of finishing the tie-off in the first leg. PSG were struggling to keep the ball, and despite having big-name forwards in the shape of Messi and Neymar, they rarely troubled the visiting defence.
However, Kylian Mbappe’s introduction changed the game’s dynamic, with his pace immediately causing concern, and he was unlucky not to help his team snatch a draw. Should Mbappe stay fit and start in Germany, he will pose a major threat, but PSG will need to find form after suffering a third straight loss.
Coach Christophe Galtier will also need to pick the right side if they are to have any chance of beating a Bayern outfit who have lost just one of their 31 games this season, as PSG’s substitutions clearly showed that an alternative line-up may have caused the Bavarians more concern.