Image Courtesy of Bleacher Report
By Garrett Farrell
On August 23, in the all-but-empty Estádio da Luz (The Stadium of Light) in Lisbon, Portugal, Kingsley Coman scored off a header to give Bayern Munich a 1-0 advantage in the 59th minute of play. The lone goal of the match would prove to be the decider, as Coman, Robert Lewandowski, and Bayern Munich won their sixth Champions League title against Neymar, Mbappe, and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Champions League is, in many ways, the pinnacle of club soccer around the world. The finest players from across the globe play for teams like Arsenal, Juventus, and Bayern. Qualifying for the Champions League is a feat unto itself; in order to earn one of the 32 spots in the round-robin phase, a team must finish in the top four spots in their highest national league. In Bayern’s case, they needed to finish in the top four spots in Bundesliga, a league with 18 teams, and the highest tier of German soccer.
Bayern’s win caps an incredible campaign for the title, as they won all 11 of their Champions League matches this year, with a total goal differential of 35. This includes an absolute dismantling of Barcelona, in which Bayern scored as early as the fourth minute and scored three goals in the last 10 minutes to win 8-2. Bayern is the first team to clear the Champions League without losing a match.
Prior to the match, there were expectations that the final would be a goal-laden affair. According to the William Hill Sportsbook, the over-under on the match was 3.5, and the chances that Lewandowski would score were at -167, meaning that many thought that it was more likely that he would score than that he would not. The total odds on Bayern were +102.
The match itself was evenly contested, with Bayern’s stamina ultimately proving to be the deciding factor. Bayern had the advantage over Saint-Germain in terms of possession, shots, and off-sides calls. The two teams were tied in yellow cards, corner kicks, and shots on goal. Saint-Germain committed fewer penalties than Bayern.
Bayern’s run for the title showed many things about the team, including the absolute dominance of Lewandowski. The 32-year-old forward had far and away the most goals in the league this season with 15 (the next closest was 10) and tied for the most assists in the tournament. Lewandowski has played for Bayern since 2014 and has won numerous awards during his tenure with the team, including back-to-back golden boots.
While this Champions League match was unlike any other for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that it took place during a global pandemic, no actual characteristic of the match will be what it is remembered for. Instead, this championship will be remembered as the capstone of one of the most dominant runs in modern European soccer. The match secured a perfect record in a tournament full of the cream of the crop, orchestrated by a well-rounded team led by one of the finest players in Europe right now.