UEFA Champions League Magazine - Episode 21Mar 24
Bayern vs PSG: Owen Hargreaves - "Mbappe and Musiala the key men as PSG's Champions League window edges shut"
Owen Hargreaves looks ahead to the second leg of Bayern Munich's Champions League last-16 tie with PSG.
Wednesday night will be the end of the road for one of European football's great powerhouses as Bayern Munich host PSG in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.
Ahead of what is sure to be a mouth-watering heavyweight slug-fest, two-time Champions League winner Owen Hargreaves gave BTSport.com his thoughts on where the tie will be won and lost.
Six-time winners Bayern hold a slim one-goal advantage ahead of the return leg in Munich but PSG's talisman Kylian Mbappe is back to full fitness after being limited to a 30-minute cameo off the bench at the Parc des Princes.
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Last week Mbappe became PSG's all-time leading goalscorer last weekend in a 4-2 league win over Nantes.
The France international netted in stoppage-time to take his goal tally to 201 goals, surpassing former PSG marksman Edinson Cavani.
Now the 22-year-old is fit and ready to lead the line in Europe as PSG look to avoid another humbling last-16 exit.
It's the French giants' first visit to the Allianz Arena since a 3-2 first leg win in the quarter-finals of the 2021 competition.
"It's massive for PSG to have him back and firing on all cylinders.” Hargreaves told BTSport.com.
"Bayern dominated the first leg but when he came on it became a different game altogether.
"He completely changes the complexion of any game he plays in because he is an absolutely ridiculous football player.
"Benjamin Pavard is suspended so Julian Nagelsmann will have to find a solution to stopping him.
"Josip Stanisic replaced Pavard at right-back against Stuttgart, but he's only 22. I can't imagine they will throw him on Wednesday against the most dangerous forward in world football in a game of that magnitude."
Mbappe's return becomes all the more crucial in the wake of the news that Neymar will miss the clash through injury.
The Brazil international is to undergo surgery to repair ankle ligaments, which will keep the Brazil international out for the rest of the season.
Neymar has 13 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1 this season but Hargreaves believes his absence could prove a blessing in disguise for PSG's hopes of reaching the last eight.
Bayern out-ran PSG by 10km at the Parc des Princes three weeks ago and Hargreaves says head coach Christophe Galtier could opt to add another body in midfield to provide more energy.
"It might work in PSG's favour to be able to put one more physical runner in that midfield," he said.
"Another midfielder would allow Lionel Messi and Mbappe free reign to create and wreak havoc in the final third.
"It's hard to carry one superstar in a competition like the Champions League, never mind three.
"When they got to the Champions League final in 2020 they were playing a little bit different and they weren't as dependent on superstar talent. They were a more balanced team.
"But it really is now or never for this PSG generation. It's not as if they're going to start running more next year... if anything they're going to run less!
"It was always going to be a small window for them to win it and it's closing fast."
Wednesday night's rematch of the 2020 Champions League final gives BT Sport subscribers another opportunity to enjoy Bayern playmaker Jamal Musiala's burgeoning talents.
Having compared the 19-year-old to Brazil and AC Milan icon Kaka earlier in the season, Hargreaves is expecting big things from Bayern's boy wonder.
"He is just so unique. A truly spectacular talent," said Hargreaves.
"He's been Bayern's best player this season so I'm expecting another big performance from him."
Musiala joined the perennial Bundesliga champions from Chelsea in 2019 having moved from Germany to England at the age of seven.
The midfielder played alongside Jude Bellingham at England youth level before pledging his international future to the country of his country of birth.
"It's a shame England let Musiala slip through the net, because that would be an incredible midfield with him and Bellingham in the middle," Hargreavses added.
"I think he's a little more offensive than Jude in that he's quicker and the better dribbler, but together they'd be the perfect midfield."
Elsewhere former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane could make his first start for Bayern in over three months.
The Senegal international was forced to sit out the World Cup in Qatar after suffering a leg injury in Bayern's penultimate Bundesliga fixture before the winter break.
Now the 30-year-old is fit and ready to make his mark on a competition he won with Liverpool back in 2019.
Hargreaves said: "Mane is such a big-game player and I think he will be huge for Bayern on Wednesday.
"One of the reasons Liverpool have had so many issues this season is the loss of Mane.
"It will be interesting to see if he starts because I'm not sure he's fully fit yet but he's a player any manager would want at their disposable because he seems to relish the big moments."
Tune in to see if Mbappe's PSG can turn the tie around on Wednesday night from 7.15pm exclusively live on BT Sport 2.