Women's Champions League PSG FCB

PSG crush Bayern’s Champions League dream

Bayern’s biggest victory from last week’s first leg was giving themselves a realistic chance to progress. Author: Jolle • Translator: Sam

And so Tom Wörle’s team could fly to Paris with the tension and anticipation that something was at stake; that even though they might not have a big chance, they did have a small chance at upsetting the odds. They had previously defeated PSG 1-0 in the first leg. If they had been able to keep PSG out for a while, defending with heart and soul and being able to counter an increasingly-nervous opposition – with the away goals rule in mind, they might actually have been able to manage it.

The reality was different. PSG made the gulf in class on the pitch crystal clear just minutes after kick-off.

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If PSG weren’t able to benefit once from their umpteen chances on goal in the first leg, they turned that pattern on its head in the second. Two set-pieces gave them a comfortable 2-0 lead in the first twelve minutes before they were able to make it 3-0 before the break, with Bayern still reeling from the early double blow. In the second half the Reds had to swallow conceding a fourth, without having forced Katarzyne Kiedrzynek into even a single save.

To make things worse, Lena Lotzen, having already been subbed on herself, was forced off the pitch injured and visibly distressed, without any obvious signs of a tackle causing the injury. After a long history of injury, Lotzen was just hitting her stride and had just starred as a match-winner at the weekend, grabbing the only goal against Leverkusen. For her it may not only be the Champions League dream that’s now over, but also the dream of playing in the Euros this summer.

3 things we noticed

1. A question of quality

Over 180 minutes, PSG dominated Bayern. They worked their way into Bayern’s penalty area over and over again through clever combinations, and so engineered plenty of dangerous chances for themselves. In this match, they had 18 shooting chances, with six of them on target (first leg 17 and 9 respectively). Indeed, Bayern spent some time in front of the opposition goal too, but not often enough, weren’t forceful enough and didn’t get close enough. The stats at the end showed four shots, with one of those on target (first leg, five and one respectively).

That’s not to lay the blame on Bayern. PSG’s sheer class – in attack, but also in defence – just gave them no chance. Bayern fought, trying in every situation to leave everything they had on the pitch, but PSG knew exactly how to stop them. Bayern didn’t show their best football. Not because they were simply unable to play excellent football, or because they didn’t want to, but because PSG forced them into errors. Above all, having Nora Holstad and Simone Laudehr would have done Bayern good in this showdown. But you can’t pick and choose…

2. Set-pieces decide the match. Immediately.

On top of that was the clear difference in quality from set pieces. That’s actually a strength for Bayern. In her career so far, Melanie Behringer has already bent several free-kicks around the wall into the net, or onto a team-mate’s forehead. But this time the corners were too short; the free-kicks didn’t hit their targets. Caroline Abbé had the best chance with a header in the 70th minute.

In contrast, Patrice Lair had equipped his team with a whole range of specific variants. The very first set piece saw the trap snapped shut. Bayern’s defence were still sleeping when the free-kick was curled into the six-yard box, and neither Maier nor Korpela could quite make up their minds and clear. Marie-Laure Delie said ‘thanks very much,’ and made it 1-0 – the first-leg result already cancelled out (4’). It was Cristiane who made it 2-0, most alive to the situation after a free-kick and the ensuing pinball in the box, converting from close range (12’). In this instance it was former Bayern player Boquete, but mostly it was Eve Perisset who caused panic in the Bayern ranks with her superb set-pieces.

3. Flexible defensive lines

Both teams went into the return leg with the same personnel. In terms of the roles in Bayern’s line-up, nothing changed. But Patrice Lair, on the other hand, tweaked his system quite a bit. While Cruz, in comparison to the first leg, was somewhat more conservative, holding her position in the engine room alongside Geyoro, Boquete moved more and more towards the right from her central position, often moving alongside the strikers Cristiane and Delie, particularly in the initial phases of play.

When Bayern kicked off, Paris were lined up in a classic 4-4-2. In their own build-up phase, they switched between a system with three in defence, made up of Irene Paredes, Sabrina Delannoy and Laura Georges, and a pendulating back-four, with either Lawrence or Perisset situationally dropping back and slotting in. Added to that, the two wing-backs spent parts of the game swapping sides. In contrast to the first leg, PSG started with Perisset on the right and Lawrence on the left. They went into the second half on those sides too. But in between it was the other way around, and only in the second half did PSG sit on their comfortable lead with five at the back.

It would have been interesting to see if PSG had sought to play quickly down the wings again, but the early goals and Bayern’s inadequate spacing gave PSG the chance to create through in central areas. As an example here, Cristiane’s goal to make it 4-0 comes to mind, as she played a one-two with Delie before scoring (52’). In addition to Cristiane, Cruz too had repeated opportunities to dribble into and around the penalty area, though her goal was the result of the Parisians’ aggressive pressing in attack (42’).

Now just one competition of three remain up for grabs. On Sunday Bayern are back at home against an unpleasant opponent in SC Sand, where three vital points in the league are up for grabs. Potsdam are six points clear, Wolfsburg four. Bayern will have to reel in one of them if they want to play in the Champions League next season. There’s not much time for them to feel sorry for themselves.

Paris Saint-Germain – FC Bayern Munich
ParisKiedrzynek – Perisset, Paredes, Delannoy, Georges (62. Formiga), Lawrence (79. Morroni)- Cruz, Geyoro, Boquete (76. Diallo), – Cristiane, Delie
BenchGeurts, Palacin, Lahmari, Ouleymata
BayernKorpela – Lewandowski, Wenninger, Abbé – Faißt, Behringer, Baunach (56. Lotzen, 68. Schnaderbeck), Maier (56. Evans) – Däbritz – Rolser, Miedema
BenchZinsberger, Weimar, Romert, Bürki
Goals1-0 Delie (4′), 2-0 Cristiane (12′), 3-0 Cruz (42′), 4-0 Cristiane (52′)
CardsYellow: Georges (40′) / Abbé (28′), Faißt (90+3′), Lewandowski (90+3′)
RefereesCarina Vitulano (Italy), Lucia Abruzzese (Italy), Ella De Vries (Belgium), Maria Marotta (Italy)
Attendance13,974


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