For the first time in two tournaments, Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich will do battle, in European soccer’s grandest stage of them all, the UEFA Champions League. But it’s not just any game, it’s the Champions League Final, their first finals match against each other.
They last faced each other in the 2017-18 season, which saw both teams beat each other to dust, in the group stage. PSG took first place, by goal difference.
PSG’s Neymar and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski are stars of their respective teams, and this is a turning point in their careers. Their futures rely heavily on their performance and match outcome.
Neymar’s post-Barca redemption
Prior to joining PSG in 2017, Neymar was enjoying a successful four year run with La Liga giants Barcelona. Two Liga titles (2014-2015, 2015-2016), one UEFA Champions League victory (2014-2015), and scoring consecutive double-digits in those tournaments are a testament of Neymar’s talent and why Barcelona signed him.
In shocking fashion, Neymar signed with French champions PSG for the biggest soccer acquisition to date, at €222 million. According to Neymar, he was tired of living under Lionel Messi’s shadow.
Thus far, Neymar has proven to be worth the price PSG paid for; with seven French championships, and seventy goals on top of that. If Neymar wins the UCL, especially if he nets the winning goal, it further proves that Neymar’s move wasn’t a temper tantrum, rather a success story from being the “other guy” next to Messi, but an all-time great in his own right.
Lewandowski’s 2nd shot at glory
For the first time in over a decade, a player outside of the Barcelona and Real Madrid banner has been recognized as the greatest player of the world. Robert Lewandowski took full control of Bayern Munich over the past year. With 34 Bundesliga goals, six in the DFB Cup, plus 14 in the UCL justified his candidacy for the award, 54 total within a year.
Unforeseen events caused the annual 2020 Ballon D’Oro award to be canceled. But Lewandowski has a chance to cover all of that up by winning the 2020 UCL. This actually won’t be his first attempt. Seven years ago, as part of Borussia Dortmund, his team fell to Bayern Munich in the final, ironically. After six years of consecutive Bundesliga gold and UCL heartbreak, Lewandowski’s career has been reborn. Over the past year, Lewandowski has torn countless defenses to shreds; including during Bayern Munich’s 8-2 spanking of Barcelona. Messi looked like a 2nd division player to Lewandowski.
The reality of the matter is that a huge spike in performance within a year is very rare, and Lewandowski’s work ethic and stats are proof of that. Winning the UCL will be the icing of the cake, of a hard fought Bundesliga career.
What are your thoughts on how Neymar and Lewandowski’s careers are now at a crossroads?