Paris Saint-Germain has had a difficult 2023; they have already dropped four games since the start of the year and are coming into this UEFA Champions League (UCL) match with consecutive losses for the first time in 11 months. PSG manager Christophe Galtier acknowledged that he is “worried” about this first leg because his team has been decimated by injuries, including those to Messi, Mbappé, and Verratti, though the former two are anticipated to return to the lineup.
Few clubs are more familiar with one another than PSG and Bayern Munich when it comes to UCL matches. This will be the sixth UCL match in the past six years (PSG: W2, L3), and based on the Parisians’ tournament record, it should be fun! Galtier’s team has not yet managed to keep a clean sheet in any of the knockout matches, but to their credit, they have scored in all but one of their previous 32 UCL home games.
Coincidentally, Bayern (0-1) was the opponent in the only home game in which PSG failed to score. That was in April 2021. The opposing manager, Julian Nagelsmann, said before the game that his team “won’t get an award for our perfect group campaign,” but a win here might warm the hearts of Bavarians on Valentine’s Day because the last time Bayern won their first seven games of a season, they won the coveted trophy in 2019–20!
The situation for Bayern has started to get better at home as well; in 2023, the record-holding ten-time consecutive Bundesliga champions followed three draws with three victories. It wouldn’t be shocking if Bayern continued their resurgence in the city of love, considering they haven’t lost a round of 16 away game in the UCL in over a decade (W6, D4), and the past three head-to-head meetings in the UCL since August 2020 have all gone in favor of the visiting team.
Players to keep an eye on: Neymar, the great forward for PSG, has historically loved facing this opposition and has assisted in as many goals (G4, A3) as his appearances against them. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, a former PSG player who scored in both halves of a knockout match with his old team back in 2020–21, will be his opponent.
PSG has advanced from five of its six knockout matches against German opposition.