Bayern Munich has reached the proverbial mountain top of Europe, winning the 2020 UEFA Champions League final over Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, 1-0. For Bayern, the win ends in a drought of seven years since they last lifted the UCL trophy, and it’s the sixth European title in their club’s history. Perhaps even more notably, they won every match in their Champions League campaign, becoming the first club to ever do so in competition history. Winning all the three most important competitions of the season – the national title, the national cup, and the Champions League, something achieved only eight times in Europe’s football history – and by Bayern too, in 2013. Sunday’s game was an opportunity for both teams to complete the “treble”.
Kingsley Coman’s second-half goal gave the German team a 1-0 victory over PSG. Coman headed home from close range, helping guide Bayern to the club’s sixth Champions League title. “It’s an extraordinary feeling, a lot of happiness. I’m 100 percent Bayern, but it makes me sick for PSG,” Coman told RMC Sports. In that moment of elation, the cameras hunted for despair. They found it in the forlorn shape of Neymar, sitting on Paris St.-Germain’s bench, a perfect picture of heartbreak. Neymar, with tears in his eyes. Neymar, staring into the middle distance. Neymar, with his head in his hands.
For Neymar, there is more at stake than a Champions League medal when PSG encounters the rampaging Bayern in Munich. The verdict of tonight’s final in Lisbon would hang a lot of answers to the questions hovering over him. The world’s most expensive player–officially he cost €199 million, but unofficially PSG had shelled out around €450 million–has to prove that he is worth his price tag.
Why is the match so important for Neymar?
They considered his signing the ultimate signal of ambition, for both the club and player. For PSG, it was a powerful statement of their Champions League aspirations. For Neymar, it was a loud pronouncement that he is ready to step out of Lionel Messi’s shadows and carve a legacy for himself. He wanted to be as central to the Paris project as Messi had been to Barcelona. Three years on, he has delivered to the club a lot in terms of quality and dazzle, but like with the national team, he has not quite won them the big prize.