Add another milestone to Alphonso Davies’ resume in what’s been a remarkable season.
In helping Bayern Munich lift the Champions League trophy after a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Sunday’s final, Davies has become the first Canadian men’s international to win the competition.
It wasn’t accomplished without its challenges for both Davies and Bayern. The match was on a knife’s edge for the majority of the 90 minutes, with PSG coming close on several occasions, especially in the first half.
In the end, though, Bayern succeeded and finish the campaign with its second treble in club history, becoming one of just two European clubs to win multiple trebles.
Here’s what we learned in Sunday’s Champions League final.
Davies was relatively quiet
There was one guarantee for this final: Davies being the focus, for better or worse.
Ultimately, Davies was neither a liability nor a benefit. He provided a sublime cross for Robert Lewandowski in the 23rd minute that was inches away from being converted, but other than that, PSG right-back Thilo Kehrer and midfielder Ander Herrera were able to nullify the Canadian’s influence in the final third.
Defensively, there were a few occasions when Davies was occupied. He conceded a booking on 28 minutes when hauling down Kehrer, who was close to outmuscling the teenager en route to the box. Angel Di Maria was just as troublesome. He Davies left Di Maria unmarked to press Herrera when there was already adequate cover. That allowed the Argentine to have a clear shot that was blasted over the bar – luckily for Bayern.
Any full-back who is asked to run up and down the flank as much as him will be out of position on occasion. But these weren’t counter-attacking opportunities. The plays were in front of him, and he failed to anticipate the danger.
That being said, Davies produced a quality piece of defending late in the game. With PSG countering, Davies was marking Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting tightly as they both sprinted into the box. Right as Neymar crossed the ball toward Choupo-Moting, Davies moved goal-side between the forward and the ball, winning a foul as a result.
Overall, though, Davies caps off an extraordinary campaign for Bayern. He made 42 appearances in all competitions for the Bavarians this season, signed a new contract, won the treble and will be a key player for the club going forward.
That would’ve seemed unfathomable 12 months ago.
Coman huffs, puffs and blows PSG’s house down
Like Davies, Kingsley Coman was being contained by Thilo Kehrer and Herrera in the first half. That carried into the second, until the former PSG academy product struck against his former club.
With the ball cycled down the right flank, Coman was bursting toward the box with Kehrer keeping tabs on him. But crucially, when Joshua Kimmich lofted a pass over the PSG defence, Kehrer was caught ball-watching, lost Coman and the Frenchman delivered the killing blow.
However, there was a moment at the end of the first half when Coman had a legitimate shout for a penalty after Kehrer appeared to foul him in the box, so it’s not like he was invisible until the goal.
It was a wise decision from Bayern coach Hansi Flick to give Coman the start over Ivan Perisic, considering how dangerous he is on the dribble, especially on the same flank with Davies. It forced PSG to overload Coman’s flank, thus freeing up the opposite side, which is where the buildup for the goal occurred.
But there’s something poetic about a former PSG player, one of many who go through the club’s academy before leaving in search of regular first-team minutes, providing the winning goal in a Champions League final against that team.
PSG proved to be worthy adversaries
This was poised to be a scintillating final, mainly because of PSG’s front three and the threat they pose on the counter. The thought was if Bayern’s high press was bypassed, Neymar, Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe would exploit that high defensive line from the Germans.
That transpired a few times. Mbappe had one of the best chances of the match for PSG off a rare giveaway from David Alaba on the brink of half-time. Somehow, a clear shot from 12 yards was fired right into the hands of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
The expected goals (xG) map from the match shows it was an even game in terms of quality chances, and that doesn’t include two whipped crosses that narrowly evaded Choupo-Moting in second-half stoppage time.
Unfortunately for the Parisians, Neymar was largely anonymous other than a saved attempt in the 18th minute. He didn’t even attempt a single dribble in the first half.
The final 20 minutes were better from the Brazilian, though it was a letdown compared to the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Had Neymar been more involved, perhaps that would’ve tilted the match in favour of PSG.