Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich – Combined XI

Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich meet in the Champions League this evening, in the first leg of a last-16 tie between two of the tournament favourites.

Both teams are packed full with talent right across the pitch and it promises to be a must-watch encounter across the two legs. A rematch of the 2020 final, the victors will be confident of making an impression deep into the latter stages of the tournament.

Ahead of their showdown at the Parc des Princes, we’ve attempted to put together a combined side from two star-studded squads. Here is our Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma – PSG

It’s crazy to think that Gianluigi Donnarumma wont’t turn 24 until later this month, such has been the experience and accolades the goalkeeper has collected to date. Already owner of 251 appearances for AC Milan and 50 (fifty) caps for Italy, he has continued to underline his status as one of Europe’s top goalkeepers since a move to PSG in 2021.

Donnarumma – who was named as Player of the Tournament as Italy won Euro 2020 – shared first-choice duties with Keylor Navas last season, but ousted the veteran as number one this time around. He boasts a gargantuan frame in the PSG goal and leads Ligue 1 for clean sheets (10) this season.

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Right-back: Achraf Hakimi – PSG

Real Madrid’s decision to allow Achraf Hakimi to depart the club must be one that still rankles, with the Moroccan having evolved into one of the most effective full-backs in Europe. Hakimi has been an excitement machine during spells at Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and now PSG, combining electric surges forward with consistent end product.

The 24-year-old has already won Serie A and Ligue 1 and will be hopeful of adding a second Champions League winners’ medal to his collection, after a bit-part role in Real Madrid’s 2017/18 success. His performances during Morocco’s run to the World Cup semi-finals were exceptional and Bayern Munich must be aware of his threat this week.

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Hakimi has scored four goals and laid on a further five assists in all competitions for PSG this season.

Centre-back: Dayot Upamecano – Bayern Munich

Dayot Upamecano was courted across Europe before his move from RB Leipzig to Bayern in 2021, where he duly won a first Bundesliga title during his debut season.

After some testing early moments as he adapted to the demands at the Bundesliga behemoth, Upamecano has enhanced his reputation as one of Europe’s best young centre-backs. The 24-year-old’s game is built around lightening speed that can match even the fastest forwards, an attribute that could be tested to its maximum against France teammate Kylian Mbappe this week.

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Upamecano’s athleticism and anticipation have impressed for club and country this season, as he has robbed forwards of possession before progressing the ball forward with ease. He formed part of the France team that reached the World Cup final in Qatar last winter.

Centre-back: Marquinhos – PSG

A rock at the back for PSG for several seasons, Marquinhos has taken over the mantle from Thiago Silva as the Parisian’s defensive leader.

The 28-year-old has made 394 appearances for PSG since signing from Roma in 2013, with his list of honours including seven Ligue 1 titles and a huge 19 domestic cups. The Champions League has remained elusive for PSG and the Brazil international, but his performances will be crucial to the club’s challenge this time around.

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Calm under pressure and aggressive in his defensive duels, he is among Europe’s finest central defenders.

Left-back: Alphonso Davies – Bayern Munich

Alphonso Davies is one of the most exciting defenders in world football, having been transformed from promising teenage winger to marauding full-back talent.

Davies boasts frightening pace, but has improved the defensive aspect of his game at Bayern to become an all-round wing-back package. In Qatar, he became Canada’s first-ever World Cup goalscorer and has now netted 13 times in 37 appearances for the national side, often operating in a more advanced role at international level.

Joao Cancelo’s arrival from Manchester City last month has now provided Bayern with one of Europe’s most impressive full-back pairings, each of whom combine scintillating speed with technical talent.

Midfield: Joshua Kimmich – Bayern Munich

Joshua Kimmich anchors our midfield, a phenomenal footballer and one of the most intelligent in world football. Kimmich has racked up honour after honour with the German giants, demonstrating his class with elite level performances in multiple roles.

He featured at right-back and centre-back during Pep Guardiola’s tenure, before settling on a midfield role in recent seasons. From there Kimmich has orchestrated games, using his spatial awareness and tactical intelligence to run games at the base of the midfield.

His partnership with Leon Goretzka has been a foundation of Bayern’s modern success, as Kimmich has collected seven consecutive Bundesliga titles since arriving from RB Leipzig.

A leader and serial winner, he has been named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season in five consecutive campaigns.

Midfield: Jamal Musiala – Bayern Munich

Jamal Musiala is enjoying a breakthrough season at Bayern Munich, one which has seen the teenager evolve from exciting prospect to Bundesliga star.

Only one player has been involved in more Bundesliga goals than Musiala this season, who has scored ten and laid on a further seven assists for the league leaders. Bayern’s youngest ever debutant and goalscorer does not turn 20 until next month, but is already operating at levels that are bordering on elite.

His twinkle-toed footwork was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing World Cup campaign for Germany, after the former England u21 international chose to represent the nation of his birth at senior level.

England’s loss has been Germany’s gain, with Musiala a natural footballer and among the most exciting young players in the game. He has 25 goal involvements in just 28 appearances this season. A phenomenon.

Midfield: Thomas Muller – Bayern Munich

Musiala could do worse than listen to the tutelage of Thomas Muller, perhaps – outside of Munich at least – one of the most under-appreciated footballers of his era. Muller has never been the most glamorous of footballers, but he has long been one of the most devastatingly effective.

Muller holds the record for most ever Bundesliga assists (168) and most assists in a German top-flight season (21), in addition to scoring 232 goals during an incredible one-club career in Bavaria. Bayern’s Raumdeuter – or space interpreter – has forged a career on finding gaps in opposition backlines and even at 33 will be looked to when the big games come around at the business end of the season.

A big-game player in every sense, he arrives into the PSG clash in good form after back-to-back goals against Wolfsburg and Bochum.

Right-wing: Lionel Messi – PSG

Lionel Messi, for many, was the greatest footballer the game has seen even before the winter World Cup.

Across those weeks in Qatar however, Messi added greater weight to his GOAT claim after a majestic tournament in the Middle East, one which saw him win world football’s biggest prize and the Golden Ball.

It was the perfect climax to what has been a once-in-a-lifetime career, one that has seen the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner shatter records and make memories that those who have witnessed his greatness will be unable to forget. After a mixed first season at PSG, Messi has been sensational during the current campaign, with 29 goals and assists in 25 appearances in all competitions.

Ending PSG’s elusive wait in the Champions League will add another compelling chapter to Messi’s tale.

Messi, Qatar, and the fulfilment of a football fairytale

Left-wing: Neymar – PSG

Even given the abundance of forward talent in Bayern Munich’s ranks, it’s difficult to look past Paris Saint-Germain’s front three for pure talent.

For the first time since their union as a trio, each of PSG’s superstar names are fit and in form this season. Neymar leads Ligue 1 for goal involvements during the current campaign (22), ahead of both Messi (20) and Kylian Mbappe (15).

Neymar has racked up more than a century of goals for each of his three clubs and is now level with the late Pele as Brazil’s record goalscorer. A joy to watch at his best with his expressionism and skill, he is a talent capable of changing any game in an instant.

Forward: Kylian Mbappe – PSG

Kylian Mbappe leads the line in our combined side, a footballer who perhaps now wears the crown as the planet’s finest.

Mbappe has long been touted as the heir to the throne, but a stunning World Cup – in which he top scored and became just the second man to score a final hat-trick – is the clearest evidence yet that he has now surpassed the game’s ageing icons.

The 24-year-old has finished as Ligue 1’s leading scorer in four consecutive campaigns and has been named as the division’s Player of the Year in three of those seasons. A blend of unstoppable speed and clinical finishing, there is arguably no better sight than Mbappe at full tilt.

Bayern will know better than most what Mbappe is capable of, after his sensational two-goal showing helped dump out the then-holders in 2020/21.

Read – Five talking points ahead of the Champions League action

Read Also – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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