Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich: Picking a Combined XI From the 2019/20 Champions League Finalists

Aug 20, 2020, 3:36 PM GMT+1
Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr
Two of Paris Saint-Germain's forward line Neymar and Kylian Mbappé cost more than £300m combined | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
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The mouthwatering meeting between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in Sunday's Champions League final pits - at first glance - new money against old.

While PSG - a club founded in 1970 and backed by an entire state since 2011 - certainly fit the bill of nouveau riche, Bayern Munich parted ways with few funds (old or new) to acquire the side which has so emphatically fired them into the final.

Bayern may be one of the establish elite but only two of the players that started their 3-0 semi-final win over Lyon cost more than £20m. PSG's attacking duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé were acquired for a combined fee of more than £300m.

Despite the contrasting outlay, both sides are bristling with some of the world's finest footballers which should make for a match as entertaining as this combined XI was difficult to pick.

GK - Manuel Neuer

Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski
Manuel Neuer celebrates Bayern's progress to his third Champions League final | Pool/Getty Images

The archetypal sweeper-keeper has rediscovered his best form since a foot injury in 2017 prompted the worst displays of his career.

While Neuer's performance as a shot-stopper have drastically improved this season (he recorded the highest save percentage in the Bundesliga), he remains one of the most active and effective goalkeepers at charging off the goal line too. Bayern's captain has completed more defensive actions outside of his penalty area than any other keeper in Europe's top five leagues this season.

The 34-year-old will need to be at his alert best given the threat of runs in behind Bayern's high backline exposed by Lyon in the semi-finals.

RB - Joshua Kimmich

Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich has missed just one of Bayern's matches across all competitions this season | Pool/Getty Images

Kimmich's versatile brilliance is such that he can get into this combined XI playing in his second-best position. The natural central midfielder has filled in remarkably well for the injured Benjamin Pavard at right-back since the Champions League resumed earlier this month.

In Bayern's last two games, Kimmich has either scored or assisted four of their goals (a return which is only made slightly less impressive when you considered the Bavarian behemoths have netted 11 in this time).

Whether he turns out in midfield or defence, Kimmich is a threat PSG can scarcely afford to overlook.

CB - Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva, Yussuf Poulsen
Thiago Silva has guided PSG to their first ever Champions League final in his last season at the club | David Ramos/Getty Images

In theory, Thiago Silva shouldn't even be in Lisbon. The Brazilian international's contract expired in June and Silva could have easily followed the same path as club-record goalscorer Edinson Cavani who opted against a short-term extension.

However, Silva stayed and has been as calm and assured as he ever has, regally marshalling a PSG backline which looked admirably unflustered in their semi-final triumph over RB Leipzig.

CB - David Alaba

Joshua Kimmich, David Alaba
David Alaba has shifted seamlessly from his natural left-back position to one of two central defenders | Handout/Getty Images

One of the few benefits to have sprouted from an extended period of games behind closed doors has been the snippets of on-pitch dialogue. While the ceaseless chatter from Thomas Müller is far from unexpected, the seemingly reserved David Alaba is surprisingly vocal.

While thriving in his new role as a centre-back, Alaba spends much of the 90 minutes talking his teammates through the game, with the jet-heeled youngster to his left a particular beneficiary.

LB - Alphonso Davies

FBL-EUR-C1-LYON-BAYERN MUNICH
Alphonso Davies was forced to rely on his blistering pace at times against Lyon | MIGUEL A. LOPES/Getty Images

Bayern's Roadrunner was playing as a left-winger in the German third tier in October. Nine months later and Davies will be turning out as Bayern's left-back in the Champions League final.

While his inexperience in a defensively-minded role has seen him caught upfield on occasion, Davies has the pace to catch almost any opponent regardless of the head-start. Should Kylian Mbappé venture over to the Canada international's flank, the battle between two of Europe's most exciting stars will be one of several intriguing subplots.

CM - Thiago Alcântara

Few players in world football exude quite the same blend of confidence and skill as Thiago Alcântara rolling the ball with the underside of his boot. Bayern's midfield maestro started just one domestic game since German football resumed in May but has shown few signs of rust across their last three emphatic Champions League displays.

The only downside to his performances so far is that they serve as a pertinent reminder that Bayern may not have much longer to cherish his effortless grace with Liverpool lingering in the background.

CM - Marco Verratti

Marco Verratti
Marco Verratti is an injury doubt for Sunday's final | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

PSG's ball-winning, press-breaking, skilful scrapper showed the severity of his calf injury when he hobbled around the stands in celebration of the club's late winner against Atalanta in the quarter-finals. Verratti was afforded seven minutes against RB Leipzig and - even half-fit - could prove instrumental to halting the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that is Bayern Munich.

RW - Serge Gnabry

Playing in a team with a striker who's goal tally exceeds 50 is going to inevitably overshadow any other player's attacking return, but Gnabry's 23 goals across all competitions should not go overlooked.

From either the left or right flank - with either foot - Gnabry has been ruthlessly clinical throughout the best individual season of his career.

AM - Neymar

The mercurial Brazilian seems to divide opinion almost as regularly as he knocks the ball between an opponents legs. However, aside from some uncharacteristically profligate finishing in PSG's last two games, Neymar has been at his best in Lisbon.

In the first season PSG have been able to boast a fully fit Neymar for the latter stages of the Champions League, the world's most expensive player has come as close as he ever has to living up to that ridiculous fee.

LW - Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappé has scored five goals and laid on as many assists in nine Champions League games this season | David Ramos/Getty Images

Mbappé's ranking among the world's most exciting young talents was emphatically reasserted by his game-changing 30 minute cameo against Atalanta in the quarter-finals. The World Cup winner's introduction proved to be the catalyst for PSG's turnaround and - after another impressive 90 minutes in his legs - the daunting reality for Bayern Munich is that they may be coming up against a fully fit Mbappé.

ST - Robert Lewandowski

Bayern Munich's talisman has been putting up truly startling numbers this season. Lewandowski - or, as Thomas Müller christened him, Lewan-GOAL-ski (get it?) - has found the net 55 times going into Sunday's final, more than Mbappé and Neymar combined.

Since Bayern Munich's opening Bundesliga game of the season, Lewandowski has failed to score in just seven of his 45 outings. PSG's toughest task on Sunday night will be making it eight.

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