Lisbon- 20 wins in a row. 10 out of 10 in the UEFA Champions League this season. Ruthless. Frightening. A machine. All of these still fail to comprehensively depict Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win vs. Olympique Lyonnais. The Bavarians head to yet another UCL final, this time against the French champions, Paris Saint Germain on Sunday.
Though Bayern came into the game as heavy favorites with a star-studded squad in every single position as well as on the bench, they began on the back foot. Lyon’s captain, Memphis Depay, peeled away from Munich’s backline in the 4th minute, essentially rounded keeper Manuel Neuer, but then missed a gilt-edged chance.
Then, in minute 16, OL’s Karl Toko Ekambi took advantage of Bayern’s high line, pulled a shot towards the near post, and agonizingly hit the post. After that moment, it was all Bayern.
A minute later, their dynamic 25-year-old midfielder, Serge Gnabry dribbled on the right, cut in, dribbled some more, and blasted a FIFA-like shot straight into the mid-left corner of the OL goal, with keeper Anthony Lopes helpless. Bayern’s first opportunity, their first goal. Again, ruthless. It was Gnabry’s 8th in 9 matches.
That soon became 9 in 9 when in the 32nd, following a smart Ivan Perišić cross, a rare Robert Lewandowski miss from close range, and a simple Gnabry tab-in. A big goal in a big match. From this point, Lyon had a Mountain with a capital M to climb. They were already hanging on by just a thread.
In the 2nd half, Bayern remained in control, and, in the 88th minute to nobody’s real surprise, Lewandowski got his goal through a relatively simple yet very accurate header. A classic center forward goal for one of the, if not the, best finishers in the game. He’s now scored in 9 consecutive matches. In Bayern’s previous 16, he’s only failed to score in one.
“We knew it would be difficult; they came in off the back of great performances against Manchester City and Juventus,” Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick said after the victory. “They are strong tactically, and they caused us problems early on.”
Bayern Munich player Serge Gnabry was rightly declared Man of the Match for his 2 incredible goals. He said, “We really want to win the final. That will be the deciding factor; we will give our all to win the treble.”
Lyon boss Rudi Garcia said, “We can be proud of our run and our game, but yes, it is the disappointment that prevails.”
Lyon built a reputation this CL season as giant-killers by beating both Juventus and Manchester City. But Bayern was simply too big, too strong to touch, let alone kill. They’ve scored 42 goals this season, just a few behind FC Barcelona’s record, which they may well surpass on Sunday.
And what a showdown it will be. The German Champions versus the French Champions. Serial winners in the CL vs. serial under performers until this season. With Bayern’s current form, some may label them as the favorites. Perhaps they are, perhaps they are not. But nobody can assuredly say that PSG is underdogs.
They do have Neymar and Mbappe after all. An impossible match to predict, as any well-contested final should be. The stage is set, the players are ready, this year’s European champions will be crowned very soon. But before that, we all hope for an almighty final, an epic showdown, a match for the ages.
Bis bald, à bientôt. May the best team on the day win.
Sameer SJB Rana, News Coordinator for Kathmandu Pati English, covers politics, peace, conflict, security, defense, and diplomacy issues. Additionally, he’s Founder & CEO of Sport Initiatives for Youth (SportIFY) Nepal, Research Assistant for Princeton University’s Empirical Studies of Conflict Project and Microsoft Research, and an MPA grad student at Columbia University. He’s also a burgeoning Nepali freestyle footballer and tweets @sameersjbrana.
Aashish Sunar, Sub Editor and Writer for Kathmandu Pati English, covers issues on politics, marginalized community, international relations, economics, and sports. He is pursuing an undergraduate degree in International Studies and Economics at Soka University of America. He tweets @imAashishSunar.