European finals preview

Whilst many of us were hoping and maybe expecting a premier league representative in one if not both European Finals they’re sill matches to look forward to and relish. Both Manchester clubs suffered disappointing exists when many people had them down as favourites. City in particular should have had enough to beat Lyon but other thinking tactics from Pep was their downfall.

Bayern Munich’s relentless march through this season’s Champions League continued as they brushed aside Lyon to book an 11th appearance in the final of the competition and a showdown with Paris St-Germain. The German champions have barely had a glove laid on them in Europe this season, with this their 10th straight Champions League win – equalling the record for winning streaks in the competition set by Real Madrid in 2015 and Bayern themselves in 2013 – as part of a 28-game unbeaten run stretching back to December.

Bayern ended their run of having lost the previous four Champions League semi-finals in which they had appeared. It also keeps them on course for a treble of trophies in Hansi Flick’s stellar debut campaign as coach.

Sunday’s final promises to be a thriller, pitting arguably the best side in world football against one of the planet’s finest forward lines.

The stunning 8-2 demolition of Barcelona in the last eight – which had pundits and fans alike purring and sent the Spanish club seemingly into meltdown, Robert Lewandowski, who has 55 goal in 46 games this season and becomes only the second player to score 15 or more Champions League goals in a single campaign after Cristiano Ronaldo (who has managed it on three occasions).

Bayern’s impressive stats:

  • They are on the longest unbeaten run across Europe’s top five league’s (P29 W28 D1 L0), scoring 97 goals during this run (3.4 per game) and winning each of their past 20.
  • They are only the fourth team in Champions League history to surpass 40 goals in a single campaign. Only Barcelona in 1999-2000 have netted more in a single campaign in the competition (45) than Bayern’s 42 this season.
  • They already have two trophies this season, scoring 100 goals to claim their 30th Bundesliga title before also claiming the German Cup.

Paris St-Germain are through to their first Champions League final, One of Europe’s biggest spenders, but also one of the continent’s most high-profile underachievers, finally seized their opportunity.

In the three seasons prior to this one they exited in the last 16, and before that they went out in the quarter-finals four years in a row – results that ultimately cost managers Laurent Blanc and Unai Emery their jobs.

Thomas Tuchel, though, has found a way to break the glass ceiling, leading the side from the French capital to their first major European final since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1997, a year before Mbappe was born.

You cannot begrudge them it either on the basis of Tuesday’s Semi Final performance, which was calm, confident and incisive.

PSG’S Front three is their biggest asset; Neymar’s brilliant assist took him to 23 goal involvements in 19 appearances for PSG (14 goals & nine assists) in the Champions League and while he and Mbappe’s finishing was rusty, they were still able to regularly fashion chances for themselves and others. When you add Di Maria, who got his 88th and 89th assists in all competitions since he joined the club in August 2015 – (only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has more in Europe’s top five leagues in that time) He also now has nine goal involvements in the competition this season, surpassing the tally he managed in helping Real Madrid lift the trophy in 2013-14. You have a front three who will fancy their chances of scoring against Bayern who despite their dominant performances give the opponent opportunities. When this trio have started together this season, PSG have lost just one of 12 games. With them fully fit and firing, they will be a match for anyone.

PSG Stat’s

  • This was PSG’s 110th game in the European Cup/Champions League – the most played by a side before reaching their first final, overtaking Arsenal’s record of 90 between 1971-2006.
  • PSG will be the fifth different French side to appear in a European Cup/Champions League final and the first since Monaco in 2003-04. Only Italy, Germany (6 each) and England (8) have had more different clubs appear in the final of the competition.
  • German sides have been eliminated in the semi-finals of the Champions League on each of the past five occasions they have reached this stage of the competition (Bayern four times between 2014-2018 and RB Leipzig tonight), since both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund made the final in 2012-13.
  • No side has ever scored in more consecutive matches in major Uefa competitions than PSG’s current run of 34 (level with Real Madrid between 2011-2014 in the Champions League). The last side to stop the Parisians scoring were Manchester City back in a 1-0 win in April 2016.
  • PSG’s Angel di Maria is unbeaten in all 17 Champions League matches he has scored in (W15 D2 L0 – 21 goals in total) – only Mohamed Salah (18), Gonzalo Higuain (21) and Patrick Kluivert (25) have scored in more games without defeat in the competition’s history.

Europa League Final

Inter Milan will face Sevilla in final on Friday, Romelu Lukaku extended his Europa League scoring run to 10 matches as Inter set up Friday showdown with Sevilla. He  scored twice as Inter Milan thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0. Lukaku is the first player in UEFA Cup/Europa League history to score in 10 consecutive matches via a run stretching back to November 2014 with Everton. Lukaku and Martinez are the first duo to score 20+ goals each in a single season for Inter Milan since Adriano and Obafemi Martins in the 2004-05 campaign.

Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte:

“I am very happy to say we feel very satisfied because our fans see Inter Milan reaching, firstly, a semi-final and now a final of the Europa League after ten years. Of course, we are really looking forward to provide some satisfaction to all of them, but we also know we are facing an opposition with great experience.They have won this tournament five times already, so we will have to prepare ourselves in the same way we have done against Shakthar.I have a great satisfaction to see how the team are giving everything they got with plenty of eagerness and resolution. I am satisfied also because the players do really believe in what we are doing, in what we are proposing. I think we play a very brave game.”

Sevilla feel like they own this competition with a remarkable record, they won three in a row from 2014 to 2016. This showed in the win against manchester united as despite being second best they kept their belief and confidence to snatch the victory. Against Wolves also they kept going in what was even game to get another late winner.

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