UEFA Champions League Semifinals Recap

PSG dominates RB Leipzig 3-0 in UCL semifinals

PSG has spent hundreds of millions of euros on acquiring superstars such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to bring Champions League glory back to Paris for the first time in club history. After a nail-bitter 2-1 victory over Atalanta in the quarterfinals, PSG had little trouble dispatching RB Leipzig 3-0 and advancing to the first UCL Final in club history.

The match with Neymar hitting the post in the sixth minute after a great set up from Mbappe. Six minutes later, Angel Di Maria placed a perfect free-kick right to Marquinhos who buried it to give PSG a 1-0, the second straight match Marquinhos scored (scored versus Atalanta). This also was the 34th straight UCL match PSG scored in, tying the mark Real Madrid set from 2011-14.

The clubs would continue to squander chances throughout the next 20 minutes, a timespan including Neymar again hitting the post. In the 42nd minute, Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi gave the ball away after a poor goal-kick. Neymar would effortlessly flick the ball toward Di Maria, who smashed it past Gulacsi to give PSG a 2-0 heading into halftime.

It would get worse for Leipzig as defender Nordi Mukiele slipped while trying to clear a PSG attack, giving the ball right back to the opposition. Di Maria, continuing his dominant performance, placed a cross for Juan Bernat who headed it past Gulacsi for a 3-0 lead. Leipzig would finish with 14 shots, three on target, for the match but could not the back of the net. PSG won 3-0, advancing to Sunday’s Champions League Final.

This was a brutal but expected loss for Leipzig. As talented as they are, they simply did not have the firepower to keep up with PSG. I thought their backline would contain PSG’s attack more but, in the end, Neymar, Mbappe and Di Maria were simply unstoppable.

PSG finally have started to see a return on their investment, finally reaching the UCL Final. Last year, they blew a 3-1 lead to Manchester United (4-0 lead to Barcelona in 2017 too) in the round of 16 with Neymar injured. The loss is a distant memory as they have conquered all their demons to reach this point in the competition. This match was especially special for Di Maria. One goal and two assists is a marvelous stat-line in a match and he has been at PSG since 2015, seeing his fair share of heartbreak. PSG is on the verge of the biggest trophy in club football and it would be storybook for captain Thiago Silva, who has been with the club since 2012, as his last match with PSG will be Sunday’s final.

PSG will face the winner of the Bayern Munich-Lyon semifinal match in the UCL Final on Sunday.

Serge Gnabry leads Bayern past Lyon 3-0 in UCL semifinals

In 2015, West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis deemed winger Serge Gnabry not good enough to play for the squad after Arsenal sent Gnabry there on loan. Several years later, Arsenal sold him to Bayern Munich for four million euros. Today, he scored a brace to send Bayern Munich to the Champions League Final as Bayern defeated Lyon 3-0.

Lyon came into this match as heavy underdogs but for the first 17 minutes of the match, they were the better club. In the fourth minute, Lyon forward Memphis Depay dribbled past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and had an open net, but he missed it wide as he couldn’t get a good enough angle to slot it in. 12 minutes later, Karl Toko Ekambi set himself up with a great chance as he weaved through the Bayern defense but his shot banged off the post.

Lyon got two great chances but squandered them. When you’re a David facing off against a Goliath, missing crucial chances to score is a recipe for disaster. In typical Bayern fashion, they took advantage less than a minute later.

Gnabry weaved through the Lyon defense and blasted a left-footed strike past Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes to give Bayern a 1-0 lead. In the 33rd minute, Gnabry would score again as he tapped in the rebound off Lopes’ save to give Bayern a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would keep Bayern comfortably ahead with an incredible one-on-one save against Toko Ekambi. Bayern would control the match, then striker Robert Lewandowski finally got on the scoring sheet, burying a header off Joshua Kimmich’s free-kick to give Bayern a 3-0 lead, a lead they held to the end. Bayern won and advanced to their first Champions League Final since 2013.

Lyon got farther in the UCL than anyone expected. Few expected them to beat Juventus and Manchester City to get this far in the competition. While they can hold their heads high after a great run but they have to feel disappointed after missing several great chances early in the match. They outplayed Bayern for a stretch but could not take advantage, a disappointing end to their run.

Once Bayern got into a rhythm, they were dominant as usual, but it is concerning Lyon got the great chances they did. They did not play with the same vigor and passion they displayed versus Barcelona. If their backline plays in the Final the way they did vs Lyon, they are in serious trouble.

Regardless, Gnabry was phenomenal and Lewandowski continues to show 2020 is his year, regardless if the Ballon d’Or is presented or not. He notched his 55th goal this season and has finally reached the UCL Final for the first time since he was a member of Borussia Dortmund in 2013. Bayern will attempt to win its sixth UCL trophy.

Bayern will face PSG in the Champions League Final on Sunday.

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