Before the first duel with Paris St. Germain, there is an alarm mood at FC Bayern. Aspiration and performance do not go together, but in the giant duel of the ailing, the team pulls together. The bosses are happy, but warn the stars not to be too complacent.
There was no lack of warnings in Munich. The FC Bayern team, it was booming from almost every corner of Säbener Straße, urgently needed to improve against Paris St. Germain, otherwise "it wouldn't be enough," said coach Julian Nagelsmann. He wasn't the only alpha to hold the stars accountable and somehow also hoped that the Champions League anthem would give footballers a boost towards more focus and greed. And indeed, the constant dripping eroded the stone. With a strong performance, PSG were defeated 1-0 (0-0) in their own stadium, the goal was scored by Kingsley Coman. A little déjà vu with the final in Lisbon in the summer of 2020, when Munich finally got the handle pot with the same result and shooters.
There is still a long way to go before the small déjà vu turns into a big one. First of all, the second leg in three weeks. The conditions are "great", as the extremely relieved club boss Oliver Kahn said in his banquet speech at the team hotel late in Paris. But that's how it is: "Games at this level - hundredths of a second, millimeters and the smallest mistake decide about victory or defeat." And the ever-greedy titan was not short of evidence. After all, Paris had scored twice that evening. But both goals by substitute superstar Kylian Mbappé were disallowed for offside. Once crystal clear, once very delicate.
But this Mbappé, not yet completely fit after his injury, makes the Munich team break out in a sweat. "In the second half we saw what this absolutely exceptional player triggers - not only in the crowd, but also in the team. We were lucky there too," analyzed Kahn. Not just luck, but also Yann Sommer. In the 74th minute, the new goalkeeper of the record champions thwarted the 1-1 through Mbappé with a spectacular save. This little reminder of the extra class of the troubled star ensemble was not really needed, because the senses at FC Bayern were sharpened. But a little stimulus not to let up doesn't hurt either. This was not necessarily the case for Benjamin Pavard, who was sent off shortly before the end after a shaky performance with yellow-red and is therefore missing in the second leg.
The relieved coach Julian Nagelsmann did not want to overestimate the deserved success in the Prinzenpark against the superstars Lionel Messi, Mbappé and Neymar: "It's not bad, but it doesn't mean too much. We're a little better off than Paris, but we can't use our legs up," he said. But the fact that Paris “has to do more in the Allianz Arena plays into our hands”. He himself had come under pressure before this game. After the World Cup, Munich didn't get going. Points have been given away in the league, the competition has come a long way towards the eternal champion, Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund have started the new year perfectly with five wins in a row. And then there was the duel with Paris and the scenario of the third early Champions League knockout in a row. The club's self-image of always being able to play for the title, also internationally, was and is at stake.
But Nagelsmann made good decisions. The best: rotating Kingsley Coman into the starting XI. With his speed, the Frenchman is immensely important for the club and an absolute highlight player. The Parisians could not stop him until he was substituted. If things got dangerous for Munich, it was always thanks to the initiator Coman. Once he crossed wonderfully to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, his starting eleven nomination was also a good idea of the coach, but his header just missed (30th). Coman broke through from the left just before half-time and Joshua Kimmich hammered the ball into Gianluigi Donnarumma's arms at the end of the attack. Substitute Alphonso Davies found the free Coman and he shoved the high cross into the goal with the inside of the far post. The ball, which was not shot very hard and not optimally placed, slipped under the body of the Italian keeper. A lucky lead for Munich at that moment (52nd), but a well-deserved one over the entire season.
"When you win, it's always good to live. We played a really good game in the first 25 minutes and had very good control," summarized the mostly satisfied Nagelsmann. "We can play straighter towards goal. There was a feeling that we were very surprised that we had the ball so much and Paris wanted to do relatively little." He had already suspected "that they defend deeply, but that it is so passive and so very deep and actually not designed to win the ball at all", that surprised him a bit." But as (von Nagelsmann) said: In The second leg doesn't work that way, Paris has to win, just like in 2021, when a 0-1 home game was followed by a 3-2 in Munich - the away goal rule that was decisive for PSG progress at the time has now been abolished.
Coman took his winning goal almost impassively. "This is my homeland, I was born here. I'm very happy about the win, even if I couldn't celebrate. We can achieve a lot if we play like this. We're on the right track," said the 26-year-old Prime video. But, he warned ahead of the second leg on March 8: "It will be even more difficult." Mainly because of Mbappé. "There was euphoria right away," said Choupo-Moting about the 24-year-old, sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić enthused: "The player is top class!" He commented somewhat sniffily on the repeated inquiries about the meaning of the victory for Nagelsmann after complicated weeks. "The coach is constantly being questioned where he can't be questioned at all. It's strange for me and us, but we don't let that bother us."