Bayern Munich 2-0 Paris Saint-Germain: Choupo-Moting and Gnabry secure Bayern’s progress as PSG fall short again

They will, of course, keep trying. Another few signings in the summer, perhaps a new coach, a few tweaks to the project.

Certainly Ligue 1 defences can expect a whole new world of punishment next season. And in a sense, this is simply the mantra of the modern Paris Saint-Germain. Ever bought? Ever failed? No matter. Buy again. Fail again. Fail better. Fail with the two greatest forwards in the world at your disposal. Fail by giving it away in your own penalty area and letting Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting tap the ball into an empty net. Fail by not scoring a single goal in 180 minutes of football.

Meanwhile, this was one more chance gone for Lionel Messi, for Kylian Mbappé, for Neymar, injured here and who knows, perhaps watching on television. It will be of little solace to them, or coach Christophe Galtier, or indeed the club’s Qatari backers, that they competed pretty well for the last half-hour in Paris and the first hour here. For all the leaders and organisers in this team, it remains a source of bafflement that a club with every resource at its disposal seems so lacking in basic maturity, that a club that has won 29 trophies in the past decade still looks so ill-equipped to win. Somehow, the great chokers always find a way.

“It’s the product of a unique season, a loaded calendar,” Galtier said afterwards, a smart framing that will probably not be enough to save his job. And for all the faint signs of evolution this season, there remains a kind of circular folly to all this. You keep losing big Champions League games because your decadent Hollywood star vehicle is unable to play as a team. How do you respond? By tightening your strategy even further around those star names: servicing them, indulging them, doing their bidding.

Bayern Munich were barely better than competent here. They do not yet look like potential winners of this trophy. And yet over the two matches, they knew when to turn up the heat, and were allowed to do so because a team defending with only nine men will eventually always give you a chance. Jamal Musiala warmed up after an abortive first half. Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané and Sadio Mané all strolled off the bench to partake in the slaughter.

Matthijs de Ligt celebrates after clearing Vitinho’s goalbound shot off the line.

  Matthijs de Ligt celebrates after clearing Vitinho’s goalbound shot off the line.

But initially at least, this was not so much the fluent, imperial Bayern that had recorded seven wins out of seven in the Champions League. Rather it was flabbier, more hesitant Bayern that have won four out of eight in the Bundesliga since Christmas and carelessly allowed an actual title race to gestate. Manuel Neuer has been a big loss, of course, but this alone does not quite explain the tentativeness at the back, the stilted buildup, the occasional spasm of white-out panic to which they seem increasingly susceptible.

Never was this more apparent than the moment of high drama eight minutes before half-time, when an under-pressure Yann Sommer tried to dribble his way out of trouble. After riding the first couple of challenges, Sommer found himself trapped in a hall of mirrors: limbs splaying, gait uncertain, the ball seemingly everywhere at once. To his horror, Vitinha won the ball on the 18-yard line and poked a shot at goal that was saved only by a desperate sliding challenge from Matthijs de Ligt.

Sommer would eventually redeem himself with a fine stop from Sergio Ramos, and a stung Bayern improved immeasurably in the second half. Choupo-Moting had the ball in the net only for the goal to be ruled out for offside against Thomas Müller. But this little bright spell seemed to awaken something in the home side. At which point it was pretty clear that one of two things was going to happen: Paris were going to dip into their famous reserves of resolve, resilience and togetherness. Or they were going to subside like a week-old macaroon.

Even so, there was something faintly breathtaking at the on-brand predictability with which Paris crumbled. El Chadaille Bitshiabu played a lukewarm pass to Marco Verratti, who was robbed by Müller. Leon Goretzka squared for Choupo-Moting, and an hour into the game the familiar order of things had somehow asserted itself. “A stupid goal,” Galtier said afterwards, throwing his 17-year-old defender under the bus, that classic Parisian solidarity once again displaying itself. “You shouldn’t be afraid of playing long.”

With a minute left, and PSG overcommitting, Gnabry burst clear and made the tie safe. The Allianz Arena exploded in a festival of colour and song, a last-eight berth secured for the 20th time in 25 seasons. As they did so Messi sank to his haunches, a thunderous look upon his face, a man perhaps realising the true scale of the farce to which he was devoting his last footballing years.

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