Neuer shines on Europe’s night of nights as Neymar goes missing

The Berlin Wall is no more but German champions Bayern Munchen have in goalkeeper Manuel Neuer an impregnable ‘Munich Wall’ that looks like a European football landmark.
Bayern became kings of Europe for the sixth time after beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in a pulsating UEFA Champions League final in Lisbon to complete a remarkable treble after snaring the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.
They did so by winning every one of their UCL matches – all 11 of them – starting with a 3-0 victory against Crvena Zvezda on matchday one of the group stage almost a year ago.
Parisian-born winger Kingsley Coman, who admits he was a boyhood PSG fan, will get all the plaudits for sealing the victory with a glorious header Robert Lewandowski would have been proud of.
The prolific Pole was kept scoreless for only the second time in this season’s competition but he can now lay his hands on the one trophy that has eluded him in his club career.
Bayern’s hero was man-of-the-match Neuer whose saves and blocks thwarted PSG whenever they managed to disentangle themselves from their opponents’ pressing tactics.
Captain Neuer three times saved Bayern with the sort of ‘starfish’ blocks the great Dane Peter Schmeichel was famous far … narrowing the angle and making himself so big that he made it almost impossible for the ball to go past him.
This is not to say that Bayern owed their victory exclusively to their goalkeeper … yet his towering presence in goal, his command of the penalty area and his ability to be an unofficial sweeper must make his defenders feel so comfortable that they can take a few chances. He is essentially the epitome of a modern goalkeeper.
It must have been comforting for Bayern’s defence that it was hardly ever under serious or sustained pressure from PSG’s dreaded front three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel De Maria.
Coach Hansi Flick’s men pressed so high up the field and gave their opponents so little time and space on the ball that the much-heralded trio were unable to reproduce the fluency and exuberance they showed in the one-sided semi-final versus RB Leipzig.
All in all, it was a tactical and thoroughly deserved victory for Bayern’s machine-like efficiency and back to the drawing board for flashy PSG.
“Neymar’s largely anonymous display would suggest that the Brazilian, for all his undoubted skill, might not be the leader some critics have led us to believe.”
PSG were being outplayed tactically and were crying out for someone who was prepared to roll up his sleeves and lead by example as Neymar so famously did for Barcelona in that epic 6-1 victory over his current club in 2017.
Instead, they got a man who became increasingly frustrated at being manhandled by burly opponents and was consequently unable to leave any mark on the game.
With Neymar virtually out of the game, except for a strong effort that was thwarted by Neuer in the first half, and Mbappe playing only a peripheral role PSG stood little chance, really.

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