By Emmanuel Ebimoh
The thrilling rush of the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League has finally come to an end at the Estadio da Luiz in Benfica, Portugal. After 11 months since September last year, the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League ended with two European giants slugging it out in what was an exhilarating battle till the final whistle. Since the restart of the competition in August 2020 in spite of the unexpected global pandemic, football fans around the world have been treated to nothing but sheer ecstasy every night the TV screens come alive with the nerve-chilling Champions League rendition. And indeed, the chills and excitement of the competition was definitely not hampered by the restriction of fans in the stadium as the games have been full of intrigue and magical performances.
THE WOES OF HISTORY AND TASTE OF VICTORY
The two teams in the final, Paris Saint German of France and Bayern Munich of Germany, were spectacular all season having won their individual domestic leagues quite comfortably. For Paris Saint German (PSG), it was their first final in the competition and there was more for them to play for. However, it would seem that the tentacles of history were extended against the French side in tonight’s final. The last six first-time Champions League finalists have lost their debut finals appearance. In 2019, debutants, Tottenham lost to Liverpool; in 2008 Chelsea lost to Manchester United; in 2006 Arsenal lost to Barcelona, in 2004 Monaco lost to Porto, in 2002 Bayer Leverkusen lost to Real Madrid, and Valencia also lost to Real Madrid in 2000. Talk about the woes of history repeating itself again and again.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, tasted the sweetness of victory and made it their 6th UEFA Champions League trophy, after their 1-0 victory against PSG tonight. The Bavarians have been nothing short of brutal in the competition this season, with some memorable victories, especially the 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona in the Quarter Finals. The German side have enjoyed this same dominance in their domestic league, having won their 8th consecutive Bundesliga title in the just-concluded Bundesliga league. Under their coach, Hans-Dieter Flick, Bayern have been on an incredible unbeaten run and they were undoubtedly strong favourites to out-muscle PSG in the final. Although the match didn’t come out as a one-sided affair, the predictions had always favoured the German side.
COMAN – THE SLAYER OF THE MOMENT
It took an inch perfect cross and a well-directed header to decide the winner in the tight encounter between the two European powerhouses. With the eyes of mortals, it could have been seen as a moment of sheer magic. One, two, and three touches, one delightful cross by Joshua Kimmich, and a sumptuous header by French-international, Kingsley Coman, were all Bayern Munich needed to seal victory against the fast-paced PSG side that were boiling for victory regardless of the odds.
The match started with some quick flowing football from the French side and they almost found an early goal when Neymar ran free into the Bayern box and forced a brilliant save from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. As predicted, Kylian Mbappe’s pace was a thorn in the flesh of the Bayern defence and again, PSG almost made it count later in the first half of the match but some heroic saves from Neuer kept the scores at nil-nil.
Then in the second half, with both teams sensing that one goal could be the killer punch, the intensity of the game surprisingly reduced, angers started to flare, and the Ref started showing off his cards. But in the 59th minute of the game, Bayern Munich got the ascendancy. A through pass from Tiago from the centre of the pitch found Joshua Kimmich. He looked to release Serge Gnabry on the run with a pass, but Gnabry pulled the ball back to Kimmich. With an instant intuitive effort, Kimmich then pulled an inch perfect cross that found Kingsley Coman inside the PSG box. The 24-year-old striker returned the ball into the back of the PSG net with a bouncing header that left goalkeeper Keylor Navas helpless. That was the only goal the match needed. Although not short of moments of individual dazzles and two penalty shouts, many football fans would have expected a few more goals to satisfy their excitement for the game.
UNEXPECTED RECORD FOR BAYERN MUNICH
This year’s UEFA Champion’s League has definitely been the strangest in the history of the competition. With the unexpected hit of the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2019/2020 edition of the competition has stretched for almost a year, as opposed to its normal 8 months span every season. This win for Bayern Munich has surely put them in the history books as the team that won the Champions League trophy in the competition’s longest season.
Emmanuel Ebimoh is a Writer and Football Enthusiast. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on firstname.lastname@example.org