Like with the first leg in Paris when Kylian Mbappe was a doubt, the starting XIs for Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg on Wednesday are already a hot topic of discussion. The Germans lead 1-0 from the opening leg thanks to ex-Parisien Kingsley Coman but Frenchman Benjamin Pavard was sent off so is unavailable to Julian Nagelsmann.
However, the big news pre-game is that Neymar has effectively been ruled out for the remainder of this season even if PSG have not confirmed as much with a “three to four-month” absence expected: “He is a player that has scored a lot of goals and picked up a lot of assists since the start of the season,” said Galtier of the Brazilian pre-game. “He is a top professional. He is the first person to be upset by his injury, and I really am thinking about him. Having Neymar in the squad would always be an additional asset to score goals.”
We look at the now confirmed XIs.
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With Pavard out, the defense is of great importance to the Bavarians given that Lucas Hernandez is also a long-term absentee. Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt were no-brainers in the back line but the inexperienced Josip Stanisic could be the chink in the armor that Mbappe and teammates go after after he got the nod. Manuel Neuer remains out but Yann Sommer is more than an adequate replacement and excelled in the away win last month while Noussair Mazraoui is also not yet ready to return. Sadio Mane is starting to get back to fitness and was a substitute against Stuttgart where he made a cameo appearance but the Senegal international was not ready to start here. Captain Thomas Muller won his battle Leroy Sane for involvement given that the latter was also able to feature over the weekend despite initially being ruled out for this one. Jamal Musiala’s was on the team sheet from the off.
“We were prepared for Mbappe in the first leg,” said Nagelsmann pre-game. “He is one of the world’s best and he changes his team’s game plan too. He will start on Wednesday and had three good moments in the second leg. However, you make life hard for yourself if you only set up to defend.”
“Mbappe is a player whose profile represents a danger,” added Muller ahead of the game. “He scores most of PSG’s goals. However, it is a team game and you have to be careful regarding passes to him and the space you allow him. He will be important for PSG on Wednesday. Every strength has a weakness, though.”
“We are well prepared and I am curious to see how PSG start the game,” continued Muller. “We may have the chance to pressure them. I know PSG, but I do not watch five or six consecutive 90-minute games. When I see their highlights, you always see a contribution from Neymar. Sometimes he can decide a game with a single action.”
Confirmed Bayern Munich XI: Sommer; Stanisic, Upamecano, De Ligt; Coman, Goretzka, Kimmich, Davies; Muller (c), Musiala; Choupo-Moting.
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Neymar was ruled out by upcoming surgery while Presnel Kimpembe’s season is also as good as over and Renato Sanches is injured too. Marco Verratti is back from domestic suspension and will start which means that Warren Zaire Emery goes back to the bench on his 17th birthday after starting the opening leg. Rape charges made against Achraf Hakimi are worrying but the club have stood by the player who has denied the accusations so he returns after a recent thigh issue. Neymar being out simplifies things up top with all-time top scorer Mbappe and Lionel Messi expected to replicate their recent superb tandem effort in the win away at Olympique de Marseille to win Le Classique. A knock against FC Nantes threatened to keep Marquinhos out after he struggled to finish his warm-up, but he made it. Nuno Mendes will seek to cause further havoc on Bayern’s right side.
“It’s an important match, we knew that after the first leg, there was still the second leg to play,” said Verratti pre-game. “We lost 1-0 at home, so they have a slight advantage but everything is still to play for. To get through, we will need to put in a top performance against a top side. We believe in ourselves, we will need to perform very well to take the qualification back to Paris.
“It’s important to arrive here feeling confident. After the defeat in the first leg, we spoke a lot and we picked up three wins on the trot, we have found our feet again, as well as the tactical system from the start of the season. We will need to be at our best to win this match, Bayern also want to qualify. There will be a lot of top players on the pitch. We want to enjoy ourselves and go out and qualify. Tomorrow, out on the pitch, we will need to show that we are strong and win here.
“Kylian is a player that we are lucky to have here with us, we need to have players like him. We know that it’s not over, we want to put in a top performance tomorrow, we are playing for something huge, and we love this pressure. It’s important to be able to count on him. And he also can’t wait to be there.”
“The season doesn’t come down to just this match,” added Galtier. “Every match is important. It’s a very difficult competition, there will be a winner and a loser tomorrow. But we play every match with the ambition of winning it. The Champions League is a very important objective, we want to go as far as we possibly can. We will need to have a much more defiant approach than what we showed in the first leg. If we are in that mindset, we have the opportunity to qualify.
“There is the possibility that it could go to penalties. I don’t see it as a lottery, we don’t work on penalties technically, because the match context is different. A lot of it comes down to the psychological side of things. And there is a lot of work that is done with Donnarumma, ahead of a penalty shootout.”
Confirmed PSG XI: Donnarumma; Danilo, Ramos, Marquinhos (c); Hakimi, Vitinha, Verratti, Ruiz, Nuno Mendes; Messi, Mbappe.
Wednesday’s broadcast schedule
(All times U.S./Eastern)
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