Neymar drags PSG past champions Bayern Munich
Sliding doors
Published: Apr 15, 2021 06:28 PM
Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain Photo: VCG

Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain Photo: VCG

Paris Saint-Germain made history on Tuesday night. Not perhaps the way they would have liked last season, when the French champions made it to their first UEFA Champions League final but lost to German giants Bayern Munich, yet they got revenge of sorts.

PSG became the first beaten finalists in Champions League history to knock out the holders the following season.

Could this finally be their year?

"It was a really tough match and the players deserve the credit," Paris boss Mauricio Pochettino told BT Sport after his side lost 1-0 on the night but went through on away goals having won 3-2 away in Munich in the first leg.

"After three months working here we're enjoying the moment and if you qualify for the semifinals then this is an amazing moment for us," the former Spurs boss continued.

"When you're on the touchline, close to the pitch, it's not easy to enjoy it, but I try to be calm on the outside. Just inside you are dealing with the stress - that's the adrenaline of it that you love to feel."

The star of that team for many years and certainly on Tuesday was Neymar with the Brazilian unlucky not to score. The Brazil star was all about the team after the match too.

"We played a great team and we're a great team. We've eliminated the champions of Europe, we're in the semifinals and we'll have to work even more. We're a real team and we have to congratulate everyone.

"The most important thing is that we qualified. Now we're in the semis and we're aiming even higher."

Neymar was pictured celebrating close to Bayern's Joshua Kimmich after the game, the German having spoken up his side's chances ahead of the second leg. The Brazilian said it was not deliberate.

"It's funny because I didn't even celebrate to mess with him, it was more with Leo and I ended up celebrating with him. It was fate that put me close to [Kimmich]," he told TNT Sports Brasil after the win.

"He said that their team was better, that they would win. He was sure that they would go to the semifinals."

Pochettino defended the defending champions' right to be confident before the match.

"It is normal that they were confident, they're a team who have won everything and they thought they were the favorites," Pochettino said.

"Football is such a beautiful game but it's also a game in which you never give up and you have to fight."

'Be calm and prepared'

Neymar played some of his own, he said after the game.

"The message we had to send was given last season, when we reached the final, played a great game against Bayern, which was the best team last year. This year I didn't see it that way," he said.

"During the draw, I told my ­teammates that we were going to face Bayern, and it happened.

"I told them to be calm, that we were prepared. We needed to show this to ourselves that we can do it. It was a great game, even though we were beaten, we played better."

Bayern coach Hansi Flick disagreed with Neymar's view.

"Over both games I think we were the better team," Flick said. "We've had some back luck, we were missing some players but we have to accept it."

His team were missing FIFA Best Men's Player Robert Lewandowski for both games while Serge Gnabry was also out.

"Normally, my team has so much quality, but today they were lacking that final punch. We have to accept that, even though we would have liked a different outcome," Flick said after the match.

"You saw how dangerous they are in attack. I have to pay huge compliments to my team, even though Paris progressed. As a fair loser, I would like to congratulate them."

Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer was key to keeping the hosts goalless. After the game he said that it was lost in the first leg.

"We weren't eliminated tonight - the result in Munich needed to be better," Neuer said. "That was frustrating because we missed so many chances. We're on our last legs. It's tough against such a top side but the players gave everything."

Committed future?

This could be a sliding doors moment for both clubs.

Neymar appears to have committed his future to PSG.  

"I'm staying at PSG, the contract extension with PSG is no longer a topic," he told ESPN Brazil after the game. "Obviously, I feel very comfortable and at home here at PSG. I feel happier than before."

As for Bayern, they appear to be losing Flick.

"That was Hansi Flick's last Champions League game as coach of FC Bayern," Lothar Matthaus told Sky Germany. "He is first choice at the DFB to succeed Joachim Loew. He will accept the offer in the summer."

Flick did little to dismiss that with his own comments.

"I have a contract with FC Bayern, but I always think about what's going to happen or how things will continue, whether everything is going well here and so on," he said. 

"My family is behind me, no matter what my decision is, whether it is at the DFB."

Germany's gain would perhaps be Bayern's loss, although they have been linked to the highly rated Julian Nagelsmann. That's for the summer, though.

In the meantime, the focus is on Paris and whether last season's beaten finalists can go one better this time out.