Two-Time European Champions Benfica Crash Out Of Champions League

Benfica won the old European Cup twice in the 1960s. Photo: [email protected] Benfica.

 

 

Two-time European champions Benfica were dumped out of the Champions League in the qualifiers on Tuesday following a 2-1 defeat at PAOK Thessaloniki.

The Portuguese giants, who won the old European Cup twice in the 1960s, were knocked out by goals from Dimitrios Giannoulis and Andrija Zivkovic.

Benfica finished second in the Portuguese top division but had a tough draw at PAOK, who finished second in the Greek Super League.

 

They will not have a chance to overcome the defeat because the third qualifying round is being contested with single-leg ties.

Dynamo Kiev knocked out AZ Alkmaar with a 2-0 win while Gent saw off Rapid Vienna 2-1.

AFP

Aubameyang Vows To Become Arsenal ‘Legend’ After Signing New Contract

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 22, 2018. Glyn KIRK / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vowed to become an Arsenal “legend” as the Gunners captain ended speculation over his future by signing a new three-year contract on Tuesday.

Aubameyang’s contract saga had dragged on since last season amid speculation he wanted to join a club in the Champions League.

But the Gabon forward revealed he had committed his future to Arsenal in a live Instagram stream from the Emirates Stadium.

The deal is reported to be worth £250,000-per-week ($321,000), with bonuses that could take it beyond £350,000-per-week contract of the club’s highest earner Mesut Ozil.

“Arsenal fans, finally as you know I just signed the thing,” Aubameyang said.

Arsenal confirmed the news themselves on their website in a statement that said: “Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new three-year contract with us!”

After scoring the goals that fired Arsenal to last season’s surprise FA Cup semi-final and final victories over Manchester City and Chelsea, Aubameyang had refused to confirm he wanted to stay at the north London club.

At one stage last term, the 31-year-old admitted he faced a big decision over his future, fuelling reports that he was ready to leave amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

But Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta remained confident Aubameyang was happy at the club and wanted to stay.

Over 100,000 people were watching the announcement via the official Arsenal Instagram account as Aubameyang pledged to follow in the footsteps of Gunners greats like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright.

“Everybody knows how special this club is, I have seen incredible players, passionate players, Invincible players,” Aubameyang said.

“I dream of being one of them, amongst the best, and staying in the hearts of the fans forever.

“I want to become an Arsenal legend just like Thierry, Wrighty, Adams and Bergkamp – too many to mention.

“My dad is my biggest inspiration, he was captain of his club and his country so it means so much to me to be the captain of this special club.

“I want to leave a legacy, this is where I belong, this is my family.”

– ‘Best is to come’ –

Aubameyang was joined on the call by Wright and his current team-mate Alexandre Lacazette, who praised both his decision to sign the contract.

“Thank you for signing. Others have left us in the past but you stayed when we needed you most,” Wright said.

Aubameyang wants to win more silverware and he added: “Signing for this special club was never in doubt. It’s thanks to our fans, my team-mates, my family and everybody at this club that I feel like I belong here.

“I believe in Arsenal. We can achieve big things together. We have something exciting here and I believe the best is to come for Arsenal.”

Aubameyang moved to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018 and has scored 72 goals in 111 games in all competitions, including one in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Fulham on the opening day of the new season.

He also scored a superb goal as Arsenal beat Liverpool in the Community Shield at Wembley last month.

The 2015 African Footballer of the Year finished as the Premier League’s joint top scorer in 2019.

It is major coup for Arsenal to keep Aubameyang and securing his future will maintain should allow Arteta to maintain the team’s improvement since he took charge in December.

Acknowledging the significance of keeping Aubameyang, Arteta said: “It was important for Pierre-Emerick to stay with us.

“He’s a superb player with an incredible mentality. Being the player to have taken the least amount of time to reach 50 goals with this club tells you everything you need to know about him and his way of working.

“He’s an important leader for the team and a big part of what we’re building. He wants to be up there with the best players in the world and leave his mark. He can achieve that here.”

AFP

CAF To Discuss Club Fixtures Amid Virus Spike In Morocco

File Photo

 

African football chiefs will decide Thursday whether to go ahead with CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup matches in Morocco during September amid a coronavirus spike there.

The kingdom is scheduled to host the first legs of the Champions League semi-finals and the Confederation Cup ‘final four’ mini-tournament this month.

Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials are concerned after a rise in Covid-19 cases meant only one Moroccan league match has been played during the first two weeks of September.

At least 12 of the 16 Botola Pro 1 clubs reported positive cases, triggering an order that players must stay in hotels or sport centres rather than returning home after each match.

“A video conference meeting of the executive committee will address several important topics related to the football situation on the continent,” a CAF statement said.

Two senior CAF officials confirmed to AFP that the concluding stages of the Champions League and Confederation Cup competitions will be among the issues on the agenda.

Both Champions League semi-finals involve Moroccan and Egyptian clubs with Raja Casablanca playing Zamalek and Wydad Casablanca meeting Al Ahly.

The first legs are set for September 25 and 26 in Casablanca with the return matches in Egypt on October 2 and 3.

Both Confederation Cup semi-finals are slated for September 22 with Hassania Agadir tackling fellow Moroccans Renaissance Berkane and Pyramids of Egypt confronting Horoya of Guinea.

– Travel difficulties –
Horoya, the only sub-Saharan club among the semi-finalists in the two competitions, have experienced difficulties with travel plans.

“We are considering numerous options to reach Morocco, but it is far from a straightforward situation,” said club president Soufiane Souare.

File photo of CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad.

 

Ahly and Zamalek reportedly have different opinions on what should happen if CAF decide that the Champions League first legs cannot go ahead as planned in Morocco.

Zamalek president Mortada Mansour told the club website that he would prefer both legs of the semi-finals be played in Egypt rather than be postponed.

“I propose we play the home and away games of the Champions League semi-finals in Egypt. We welcome our fellow Moroccans, for whom we have all the love and appreciation,” he said.

An announcement on Al Ahly TV said the record eight-time African champions would not object to a delay.

“We were planning to play the semi-finals as per the scheduled dates, (but) human and health conditions are more important than a competition,” the Cairo club said.

The semi-finals and finals of both competitions were originally scheduled for May, but could not be played because of the pandemic.

AFP

UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round Draw

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

The draw for the third qualifying round of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League, made at UEFA’s Swiss headquarters in Nyon on Monday:

Ferencvaros (HUN) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

Qarabag (AZE) v Molde (NOR)

Omonia Nicosia (CYP) v Red Star Belgrade (SRB)

Midtjylland (DEN) v Young Boys (SUI)

Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR) v Dinamo Brest (BLR)

PAOK (GRE) v Benfica (POR)

Dynamo Kiev (UKR) v AZ Alkmaar (NED)

Gent (BEL) v Rapid Vienna (AUT)

– Ties to be played on September 15 or 16 with winners advancing to play-off round

– Ties will be played as one-off straight knockout matches, rather than over two legs, because of the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

AFP

Dominant Lyon Beat Wolfsburg To Win Fifth Straight Women’s Champions League

Lyon’s French defender Selma Bacha (C) and teammates pose with the trophy as they celebrate after Lyon won the UEFA Women’s Champions League final football match between VfL Wolfsburg and Lyon at the Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian on August 30, 2020. Villar Lopez / POOL / AFP

 

 

Japan star Saki Kumagai’s strike proved crucial as Lyon continued their reign as Europe’s dominant women’s club side on Sunday, beating Wolfsburg 3-1 in the Champions League final to win the trophy for the fifth year running.

Kumagai scored after Eugenie Le Sommer had handed the French outfit the lead in San Sebastian, giving Lyon a 2-0 half-time advantage and leaving Wolfsburg with too much to do even if Alexandra Popp did pull one back for the Germans in the second half.

Icelandic midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir’s late effort made sure of the victory for Lyon, whose fifth consecutive Champions League crown is also their seventh overall, comfortably a record.

A fifth straight title sees them equal the feat achieved by the Real Madrid men’s team between 1956 and 1960, in the early days of the European Cup.

All of Lyon’s seven titles have come in the last decade and this latest triumph confirms their status as the finest club team around even as rivals around Europe step up their investment in the women’s game.

Jean-Luc Vasseur’s team edged out Bayern Munich 2-1 in the quarter-finals at the ‘Final Eight’ in Spain’s Basque Country, played out behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They then claimed a narrow 1-0 win in the semi-finals over domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain, the team they beat to claim a 14th successive French title earlier this year and defeated on penalties in the French Cup final.

This victory, against a Wolfsburg side who themselves claimed a German domestic double and were unbeaten in 40 games coming into the final, showcased the depth of their all-star squad.

Lyon were missing four of their biggest stars, with France duo Griedge Mbock and Amandine Henry injured and Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg — the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner — not fully fit. England forward Nikita Parris was suspended.

 

Lyon’s French forward Delphine Cascarino kisses Lyon’s Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg’s jersey, worn by Lyon’s Japanese midfielder Saki Kumagai, after winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League final football match between VfL Wolfsburg and Lyon at the Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian on August 30, 2020. Alvaro Barrientos / POOL / AFP

 

But Lyon’s long-serving president Jean-Michel Aulas continues to be rewarded for his heavy investment in a women’s team, despite the prize money for winning the Champions League being a mere 450,000 euros ($535,000), a tiny fraction of that on offer in the men’s competition.

Here, despite the absences, Lyon were still able to call upon a host of French internationals and foreign stars like Kumagai, Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan and England right-back Lucy Bronze.

– Unbeaten in 65 games –

They are now unbeaten in 65 matches stretching back more than two years, and this is also the third time in five editions in which Lyon have beaten Wolfsburg in the final, leaving the Germans still searching for a third Champions League crown to go with their titles in 2013 and 2014.

They defeated OL in 2013, but the French side have now overcome the Germans en route to winning each of their five straight titles.

Previous finals between these sides have always been close affairs, although on this occasion the holders started strongly and were rewarded with the opening goal in the 25th minute.

Without Hegerberg or Parris, it was Le Sommer who led the attack. And when a move down the right ended with Delphine Cascarino cutting the ball back for Le Sommer, she pounced to convert the rebound after her first shot was blocked by goalkeeper Friederike Abt.

The second goal came in the 44th minute. Ingrid Engen stopped Amel Majri shooting but only succeeded in setting up Kumagai, who let fly with a terrific left-foot strike from 23 yards.

There was hope for Wolfsburg when they pulled one back just before the hour, Ewa Pajor setting up Popp to head in from close range.

But they could not find an equaliser and instead Lyon scored again in the 88th minute.

When a corner was not properly cleared, Le Sommer went for goal and her wayward shot was deflected in by Gunnarsdottir, who was on the losing side with Wolfsburg in 2018 but is this time a Champions League winner.

Bayern Munich In Spat With China Fans Over Band Endorsement

Bayern Munich's Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (4thR) celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on May 23, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany. ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP
Bayern Munich’s Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (4thR) celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on May 23, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany.
ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP.

 

Bayern Munich are embroiled in a row with their Chinese fans just days after their Champions League triumph, accusing supporters of “hurling abuse” over a public-relations campaign gone wrong.

In the build-up to Sunday’s final against Paris Saint-Germain, some supporters were riled by the German club’s endeavours to be endorsed by a Chinese boy band called “Teens in Times”.

The club was accused of showing desperation over a series of leaked online messages that sought to make contact with the band to earn its backing.

European football teams aggressively court China’s growing middle class, and Bayern’s profile in the world’s most populous country should have been given a boost by beating PSG 1-0 for a treble of European and domestic titles this season.

But some fans felt Bayern’s social-media effort was demeaning to genuine old-school supporters, and they made their feelings known on the Twitter-like Weibo, where Bayern have 4.2 million followers.

“Have you ever seriously evaluated the risks and consequences of cooperation (with the boy band)?” one fan wrote on Weibo.

“I am writing a letter of complaint to Bayern’s headquarters.”

Bayern, who have an office in Shanghai and say they have 110 million supporters in China, came out fighting in an open letter published on Weibo.

“We really appreciate the fans’ support and understanding but it’s a pity that on the eve of this historical moment of the Champions League final some people made some unpleasant comments on Bayern’s Chinese social media page,” the statement said.

“We came to China to have closer communication with Bayern fans and fan clubs. However, distorting facts and hurling abuse at the club’s official platform should not happen among Bayern’s big family.”

Bayern’s response served only to fuel the anger of some Chinese supporters.

“You have the cheek to blame the fans?” said one typical reply on Weibo that was liked 900 times.

“And you blame the fans for ‘not being grateful’?”

AFP

Champions League Winners Bayern Back In Munich Ahead Of Fan-Less Celebrations

Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer raises the European Champion Clubs’ Cup during the trophy ceremony after winning at the end of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP

 

 

Champions League winners Bayern Munich returned to Bavaria on Monday after clinching the side’s second treble but celebrations will be without their fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Midfielder Thiago Alcantara was the first off the plane, Manuel Neuer carried the trophy as Robert Lewandowski wore sunglasses, all wearing t-shirts adorned with “Triple 2020” in bright sunshine.

The players and coaching staff wore club masks while David Alaba held the match ball from the 1-0 win over French champions Paris Saint-Germain as state premier Markus Soeder welcomed squad home.

 

Bayern Munich’s French forward Kingsley Coman (R) scores the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League final football match against Paris Saint-Germain at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. LLUIS GENE / POOL / AFP

 

Coach Hansi Flick said had been no curfew the previous evening as the team celebrated at their hotel after lifting the European Cup for a sixth time.

In the past, Bayern celebrated by showing the trophy to fans from a balcony at Munich city hall. This time there will be a private event at the Allianz Arena.

Players will have a two-week holiday after the festivities before they start the new campaign by travelling to fifth-tier amateur outfit Dueren to begin their defence of the German Cup.

AFP

Over 150 Arrested As PSG Fans Riot After Defeat

Firefighters extinguish a burning car near the Champs-Elysees in Paris on August 23, 2020, as PSG supporters gather after the UEFA Champions League final football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon. Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP

 

 

More than 150 people were arrested as Paris Saint-Germain fans set cars ablaze, smashed shop windows and clashed with police in the French capital after their team’s Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich, police said Monday.

The violence occurred around the Parc des Princes stadium and on the Champs-Elysees avenue during and after the match on Sunday night, police said on Twitter.

Thousands of supporters had gathered at the Parc des Princes to cheer on PSG, lighting flares and chanting as they watched the 1-0 defeat in Lisbon on a big screen.

Even as it battles a resurgence of coronavirus infection, France allows up to 5,000 people to attend big events such as sports matches, provided social distancing and other protective measures are in place.

 

 

A Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) supporter holds a flare near the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on August 23, 2020, after the UEFA Champions League final football match between PSG and Bayern Munich played at the Luz stadium in Lisbon. Alain JOCARD / AFP

 

The trouble lasted several hours, as groups of fans threw bottles and fireworks at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP reporter said.

On the Champs-Elysees, vehicles were set on fire, windows broken and shops vandalised.

Police said 151 people were arrested on charges including violence against law enforcers, theft, possession of stolen goods, damage to property and refusing orders to disperse. They include 49 minors.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that 16 police were injured, 12 shops attacked and about 15 vehicles damaged in the rampage.

In a tweet on Sunday night, he condemned the “unacceptable” violence and thanked the police who arrested “small violent groups, troublemakers.”

Burned-out cars and broken glass still littered the Champs-Elysees Monday morning, where rioters had vandalised and broken into a flagship branch of French sports goods chain Decathlon.

Far-right National Rally (RN) leader Marine Le Pen, in a tweet, accused the government of failing to “prevent scenes of rioting that tarnish sport and ridicule the authority of the state.”

– ‘Get tested’ –

Social distancing measures were ignored inside and outside the Parc des Princes among fans who had hoped to see their Qatar-owned team’s first triumph in Europe’s top club competition.

Police said 404 people were stopped for not wearing face masks, now mandatory in parts of the city as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

Anne Souyris, deputy Paris mayor in charge of health issues, said supporters who followed the match in groups should all take coronavirus tests.

“All those who stayed together all the evening and the night need to go and do a test,” she told Franceinfo radio.

“We see hundreds upon hundreds of people who are not wearing a mask and that’s a real problem,” she said. “I firmly urge all those who were on the Champs-Elysees to get tested,” she added.

There has been growing concern in recent days over a surge in coronavirus cases in France which authorities have blamed largely on young people not observing social distancing rules.

Almost 4,900 new cases were recorded on Sunday, a new post-lockdown record.

– ‘Party’ in Marseille

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo had called for “mature celebrations” should PSG beat Bayern after supporters clashed with police following their 3-0 win over RB Leipzig in the semi-finals.

“I’m gutted! They wasted too many chances and unfortunately in the final that just doesn’t fly,” said Nicolas Mounier as he left the stadium peacefully.

“We are disappointed but we weren’t dreadful,” another PSG fan, Anne Vaneson, told AFP.

“In the first half, we were on a level playing field but we paid for a dip in performance in the first 20 minutes of the second half.”

In the Mediterranean city of Marseille, emotions were different. Supporters of local favourites Olympique de Marseille could not hide their glee over the downfall of their Paris rivals.

“It is time to party, they have lost!” said Samir M’Kirech, watching the match at a pub in the Vieux-Port waterside area of the city where a huge cheer had gone up as Bayern scored the winning goal.

Police urged any PSG supporters in Marseille to remain discreet and even banned supporters from wearing PSG shirts around the Vieux-Port. That decision was rapidly reversed after an outcry.

AFP

Bayern Beat PSG To Win Sixth Champions League Title

Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer raises the European Champion Clubs’ Cup during the trophy ceremony after winning at the end of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP

 

Bayern Munich won the European Cup for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in an engrossing Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.

It was often a cagey final, with a bit of needle between the teams, but chances too, especially before Coman appeared at the back post to head in Joshua Kimmich’s inviting 59th-minute cross and wrap up a treble for a team who had already won the Bundesliga and German Cup.

Hansi Flick’s team will feel they deserved their victory, yet PSG will regret not taking any of the chances that were offered up to them on a surreal occasion at an empty Estadio da Luz.

Kylian Mbappe in particular should have done better than shoot straight at Manuel Neuer right on the stroke of half-time.

The France World Cup-winning forward had spoken of his determination to go down in his country’s history by helping PSG become just the second French winners of European football’s greatest prize.

But they will have to wait for the chance to match Marseille, who won the inaugural Champions League in 1993.

PSG’s Qatari owners spent a combined 402 million euros ($474m) on Neymar and Mbappe in 2017 to win this competition, not just reach the final. However, in the end, it was one who got away from Paris who denied them.

The 24-year-old Coman was born in Paris and started his career at PSG, only to leave in 2014 for Juventus, sensing he wouldn’t get the regular football he desired if he stayed put.

He had been on the bench in the semi-final against Lyon but was promoted to the starting line-up for the final, replacing Ivan Perisic on the left-wing.

Bayern Munich’s French defender Lucas Hernandez (C-R) and teammates celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League final football match against Paris Saint-Germain at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP

 

Now he may not be welcome back in his home city again.

But at Bayern, he will always be remembered as the man who won them this trophy in 2020, in the club’s 11th final and seven years after they were last European champions.

– Mbappe’s big miss –

Flick’s team have ended this season with 21 straight victories and unbeaten in 30 matches. They deserved to be crowned in a full stadium.

However, only a few hundred lucky invitees were inside the cavernous home of Benfica to see the denouement of the ‘Final Eight’, at the end of a competition so long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The strangest of finals pitted together two clubs who have taken very different routes to becoming part of Europe’s elite, with Bayern’s status as Germany’s most successful and powerful side long-established and PSG having left the rest of the French game behind following the Qatari takeover of 2011.

But if this was a mismatch in terms of history, on and off the pitch right now they are almost perfectly balanced.

That translated into the kind of proper match-up on the field that neither side often experiences these days.

Bayern Munich’s French forward Kingsley Coman (R) scores the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League final football match against Paris Saint-Germain at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. LLUIS GENE / POOL / AFP

 

Bayern came desperately close to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Lewandowski — looking for his 56th goal of the season — took down an Alphonso Davies cross, turned and struck a shot against the post.

The Pole also came close with a header that was saved by Keylor Navas, PSG’s goalkeeper who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and who was returning after injury ruled him out of the semi-final against RB Leipzig.

But Bayern take risks by playing with such a high line, and PSG should have punished them in the first half.

Neymar was denied by an excellent Neuer save after being set up by Mbappe, while Mbappe himself contrived to fire straight at the goalkeeper after David Alaba gited him the ball in the Bayern box.

Alaba had earlier seen his central defensive colleague, Jerome Boateng, limp out seemingly with a recurrence of the hamstring problem that forced him off against Lyon.

Niklas Suele replaced him and helped contain the Paris attack as Bayern held onto their lead.

Bayern had broken the deadlock just before the hour mark in a move that began with a sprayed Thiago Alcantara pass forward, and ended with Coman arriving to head in Kimmich’s perfect delivery.

Neymar ended the game with a yellow card for chopping down Lewandowski, and a runners-up medal, while Bayern celebrated.

AFP

Bayern Coach Confident Team’s Defence Will Subdue PSG’s Neymar, Mbappe

File photo: Bayern Munich’s head coach Hansi Flick arrives for the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen in Munich on December 14, 2019.
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

 

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick says he trusts their high line defence and will resist making changes in order to contain fleet-footed Paris Saint Germain forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in Sunday’s Champions League final.

“In our games over the last 10 months, we’ve always tried to impose our style on the opposition,” Flick said Saturday with treble-chasing Bayern on a 20-match winning run.

“We’ve always played with a high line and ultimately we’ve got results doing that so we won’t change too much.

“We don’t want to give too much space to the opposition.

“What’s important is we can press the opposition when we are in possession and make sure we cover the ground,” he added, should PSG’s forwards breach his defence.

Bayern have powered into the Lisbon final by scoring 42 goals in 10 European matches.

However, they nearly came unstuck early in Wednesday’s semi-final against Lyon as the French side found plenty of space to attack behind Bayern’s back four.

Joshua Kimmich is tipped to switch from midfield to right-back, potentially tasked with keeping Neymar and Mbappe away from Bayern’s goal.

“We don’t know the starting eleven, but I think I’m going to play right-back,” said Kimmich, who played in central midfield in the 3-0 win against Lyon.

“It might be Neymar and Mbappe on the right – they are very good going forward, but I don’t think we are going to sit too deep.”

 

File photo: Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar (L) jokes with Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian MBappe prior to the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Montpellier Herault SC at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on February 1, 2020.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Jerome Boateng, one of four survivors from the Bayern team which won the 2013 Champions League final, strained a hamstring against Lyon.

“I hope Jerome will be fit. After training we will debate how to go forward,” said Flick.

He hinted at changes to his starting line-up after substitutes Philippe Coutinho and Kingsley Coman impressed against Lyon.

“When they came off the bench, Kingsley and Philippe showed they can strengthen the side,” said Flick.

“It’s our third game in quick succession so we need to look at the players’ fitness levels.”

Having won the Bundesliga and lifted the German Cup, Bayern are chasing the treble in Flick’s first season.

 

File photo: Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (R) celebrates with Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Serge Gnabry after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Rafael Marchante / POOL / AFP)

Bayern shook up European football with a stunning 8-2 demolition of Spanish giants Barcelona in the quarter-finals and are in confident mood for Sunday’s final.

“If we are able to produce our best performance, if we are all at 100 per cent, we will be able to win,” added Flick.

AFP

Italian Orsato To Referee 2020 UEFA Champions League Final

File photo: Italian referee Daniele Orsato gestures during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP

 

 

Italian referee Daniele Orsato will take charge of the Champions League final between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, UEFA announced Thursday.

Sunday’s showpiece at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon will be the first European final for the 44-year-old official, who has been an international referee since 2010.

Orsato will be assisted by his compatriots Lorenzo Manganelli et Alessandro Giallatini.

Orsato is no stranger to Paris Saint-Germain.

Last season, he refereed the French side’s 2-0 victory at Manchester United in the round of 16 — though PSG were ultimately knocked out on the away goals rule.

This season, he has officiated in eight Champions League matches, including the last 16 first leg between Real Madrid and Manchester City.

AFP

Bayern Beat Lyon To Set Up Champions League Final Showdown With PSG

Bayern Munich’s players celebrate at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final football match between Lyon and Bayern Munich at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 19, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP

 

Serge Gnabry celebrated with his NBA-inspired ‘stir the pot’ gesture after scoring two goals in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final against Lyon to keep Bayern Munich on course to repeat their 2013 treble after a 3-0 victory.

Robert Lewandowski added the third for his 55th goal of the season as Bayern go on to face Paris Saint-Germain in Sunday’s final.

Gnabry gave Bayern an early lead in the Lisbon semi-final with a powerful shot, then doubled the Germans’ lead with a first-half tap-in before being replaced by Philippe Coutinho for the final 15 minutes.

Seconds after a shot by Lyon forward Karl Ekambi hit Bayern’s post, Gnabry opened the scoring with a stunning piece of skill.

After trapping Joshua Kimmich’s long-range pass, Gnabry cut in from the right wing, beat two defenders and powered his shot out of reach of Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes with 18 minutes gone.

Gnarby, 25, then doubled Bayern’s lead on 33 minutes by tapping home after Lopes parried a Lewandowksi shot.

Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Serge Gnabry (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final football match against Lyon at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 19, 2020. Miguel A. Lopes / POOL / AFP

 

His brace leaves Gnabry on nine Champions League goals this season, including four in Bayern’s stunning 7-2 demolition of Tottenham in the group stages.

After Bayern’s goal romp at Tottenham last October, Gnabry, a former Arsenal winger could not resist tweeting “North London is RED!!!”.

He netted two more goals in London last February in a 3-0 win at Chelsea in the last 16, first leg tie.

Gnabry also scored Bayern’s third in Friday’s jaw-dropping 8-2 rout of Barcelona in the quarter-finals.

Gnabry is this season’s third-highest scorer in the Champions League behind Lewandowski (15), who headed Bayern’s third goal against Lyon, and Dortmund teenager Erling Braut Haaland (10).

In helping Bayern win an eighth straight league title and lift the German Cup this season, Gnabry has now scored 23 goals in 45 games in all competitions.

He celebrated his stunning opener on Wednesday by making the gesture of stirring a spoon in a pot.

Earlier this season, he revealed, “I’m a big fan of the NBA, especially James Harden”.

The Houston Rockets playmaker celebrates with the same pot-stirring gesture when he lands a big shot.

Born in Stuttgart, Gnabry joined the Bundesliga club when he was 12.

Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (L) heads the ball with Lyon’s Belgian defender Jason Denayer during the UEFA Champions League semi-final football match between Lyon and Bayern Munich at the Jose Alvalade stadium in Lisbon on August 19, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / POOL / AFP

 

From Stuttgart’s academy, where he played alongside future Germany team-mates Timo Werner and Joshua Kimmich, Gnabry’s performances attracted Arsenal.

He joined the Gunners after his 16th birthday in 2011 and was promoted to Arsenal’s reserves after less than a season with the Under-18 squad.

“I went to England because everyone told me not to go, that I couldn’t make it. I wanted that challenge,” Gnabry says of his time in north London.

After only a handful off appearances for Arsenal, Gnabry spent 2015/16 on loan at West Bromwich Albion before being selected for Germany’s Olympic team.

He won a silver medal, aged 21, and finished joint top-scorer with six goals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games as Germany lost to the Neymar-led Brazil in the final.

His senior debut followed in November 2016 with a hat-trick at minnows San Marino in Germany’s 8-0 away romp in a World Cup qualifier.

He returned to Germany for 2016/17 with Werder Bremen where he scored 11 goals in 27 appearances for the Bundesliga strugglers.

Bayern bought him in 2017, but immediately loaned him to Hoffenheim, before Gnabry joined the German giants permanently for 2018/19.

He has replaced Arjen Robben, whose winning goal in the London final gave Bayern their last Champions League title in 2013.

AFP