Thursday's soccer news starts with the Champions League final. Europe will finally close the door on the 2019-20 season on Sunday with PSG hosting Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga champions advanced with a 3-0 win over Lyon, ending the underdog story. Instead, it's PSG trying to show value for all of that money spent and Bayern trying to close out a remarkable winning streak.
"We knew it would be a tough game," Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick said. "Lyon are an outstanding team, they fought. They turned in good performances against Manchester City and Juventus. We saw how difficult it is against a hard-running team with good tactics. They hurt us again and again, we were lucky to weather the early stages. Serge handed us the lead thanks to his individual quality. It boosted our confidence. We'll analyse the match. Our great strength is putting our opponents our pressure. We'll do that against Paris too."
Perhaps the biggest difference between Bayern Munich and other clubs is that they're simply not taking much of anything as a given. Flick's comments may veer towards coach-speak, but what they do on the field shows the work they're putting in. It's not superstars running wild against overmatched opponents. Bayern was already making the kind of game-to-game tactical adjustments you'd expect to see in the knockout round of the Champions League when they were playing out the season in Germany. Already champions, they kept working.
For a team packed with superstars like PSG, it's an interesting scenario. Letting their world class talent play is always an option, but that might tilt the balance against them in a close game. Overplanning could create another Atalanta scenario where at no point prior to stoppage time did it seem like PSG was in complete control.
Instead of a tactical matchup on the field, it's a few days of resisting the urge to undo what might work best. Planning is the problem for PSG rather than the process. Bayern Munich might beat them anyway. They're certainly playing the best soccer in Europe, but PSG needs to focus on what they've paid so much money to get. A group of elite talent in the prime of their careers that can change games on their own.
"The defense has been our strength this year," PSG defender Marquinhos said. "I think a team has to defend well and be solid at the back to get good results. We have great players in attack, but we also have a solid defense and that really makes the difference. We know we're going to score, we know our qualities up front, so if we can keep things tight at the back, it's crucial, and we need to do that in the final too."
Also in the soccer news, FIFA held the draw for Concacaf World Cup qualifying. That means the USMNT knows when it will play some teams while waiting on the opening round to find out the rest of their opponents. Here's what the schedule looks like with specific dates, times, locations, and broadcasts to be determined.
|6/2021||WCQ @ group A/F winner|
|6/2021||WCQ group B/E winner|
|6/2021||WCQ @ Honduras|
|9/2021||WCQ @ group C/D winner|
|9/2021||WCQ Costa Rica|
|10/2021||WCQ @ Jamaica|
|11/2021||WCQ group A/F winner|
|11/2021||WCQ @ group B/E winner|
|1/2022||WCQ @ Mexico|
|3/2022||WCQ group C/D winner|
|3/2022||WCQ @ Costa Rica|
UEFA's preview of Friday's Europa League final with Sevilla playing Inter Milan. The Athletic's Jack Pitt-Brooke draws a line between success and failure in the Champions League. The Premier League also released its 2020-21 schedule with the season set to start on September 12.
First of all, I cannot thank everyone involved with @laticsofficial for the 2 years i’ve spent there. Not only have I enjoyed every second on the pitch, but more importantly this team has gotten me through some very hard times in my career and helped me develop into who I am now. pic.twitter.com/zBVt82W4dH— Antonee Robinson (@Antonee_Jedi) August 20, 2020
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