The build up to Bayern Munich’s trip to Paris had all been about PSG’s spending and Bayern’s relative conservatism. But DW’s Matt Pearson found out in Paris that money talks when it’s spent on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
“Paris have bought a world-class squad. Whether it’s a world-class team, we’ll have to wait and see.Bayern Munich are more of a team – we’ve experienced a lot together.”
Those were the words of Robert Lewandowski when he openly questioned Bayern’s transfer policy earlier this month. He didn’t have to wait long to find out just how good Paris Saint-Germain are.
The Polish striker had a great view as the French side clinically ripped apart Bayern Munich on a chastening Wednesday night for the German champions that lent serious weight to the Parisian’s galactico policy and must have left Lewandowkski considering his future even more intently.
An early strike
Much of PSG’s ethos appears to be about instant results and that was exactly what they got here at the Parc des Princes. Neymar, the jewel in their most expensive of crowns, waltzed through Bayern’s static rearguard after just 85 seconds before looking up to see Dani Alves in space – his Brazilian compatriot did the rest.
The concession offered a lesson Bayern were simply unable to learn. Half an hour later it was PSG’s other big-money signing repeating the trick. Kylian Mbappe bamboozled Bayern’s center backs before showing a composure and awareness beyond his years to make it easy for Edinson Cavani.
Time and time again the wide pair carved the Bavarians apart and the only surprise was that it took them so long to make it three. Once again Mbappe was involved, an outrageous dragback sending David Alaba the wrong way before the Brazilian gobbled up a loose ball.
German giants frustrated
For all PSG’s incisive excellence, Bayern had their chances – Javi Martinez and Lewandowksi were both denied before the break and they had a second half effort cleared off the line. But in truth, as soon as the second went in, they were utterly outclasssed and the last half hour became an exercise in damage limitation. PSG’s fans were comfortable enough to break out a few ‘Oles’ as their team stroked the ball around an increasingly frustrated Bayern. Germany’s big beasts are not used to being toyed with.
If anything can be gleaned from this game, it’s that at this rarified level, it’s the players that have that extra something that make the difference. And those players cost that extra something too.
You get what you pay for
On Tuesday Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale accounted for Borussia Dortmund, on Wednesday, Mbappe and Neymar did the same for Bayern. The Real Madrid duo’s combined cost: €194 million ($227 million). When the Mbappe deal is completed at the end of this season, he and Neymar will come in at a combined €402 million.
“Of course, Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani are really dangerous on the break,” Ancelotti told a post-match news conference. “Stopping Mbappe is difficult but when they have space to show their quality, they’re more difficult to control. The key is to have a good balance and we didn’t have that.”
Glimpses of quality
In stark contrast, Bayern’s two big summer signings were both hauled off at halftime. James Rodriguez and Corentin Tolisso have both shown glimpses of quality in Bayern shirts but, in club football, neither has reached anywhere near the level of Neymar and Mbappe.
Bayern’s next substitute was also instructive. Ancelotti threw on Arjen Robben for the last 20 minutes, surely more in hope than expectation. That Bayern are still so reliant on the Dutch winger and fellow veteran Franck Ribery that their presence on the bench on Wednesday seemed such a big risk, is testament to the lack of adequate replacements. Those two might once have been on the same level as PSG’s pair but, as good as they still are, their best days are behind them.
Bayern may or may not have the money to compete with the Qatari-backed might of PSG, and there are valid moral reasons to question the validity of PSG’s spending and the source of their wealth. But for players like Lewandowski and others of his class, it’s winning football matches – and trophies – that counts. On the evidence of Wednesday, they won’t be winning the one he and Bayern’s fans crave most, anytime soon.