Sport Bayern Munich looms as the team to beat in UEFA Champions League

Bayern Munich looms as the team to beat in UEFA Champions League

Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich scores his side’s fifth in the 8-2 win against Barcelona. Photo: AFP/Getty
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A year has passed since Bayern Munich opened the 2019-20 season by blowing a two-goal lead in a Bundesliga draw but now it is overwhelming favourites to win the Champions League.

Two German-French semi-finals will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Europe (5am AEST on Wednesday and Thursday) before the August 23 decider in Lisbon.

Bayern takes on Lyon on Wednesday as it continues their quest to become European champions for the sixth time.

A day earlier, Paris Saint-Germain faces RB Leipzig in a duel of rather new and ambitious clubs.

No longer represented at the one-legged mini-tournament in Lisbon are the big three leagues of England, Italy and Spain who have won 43 of the 64 past titles between them.

It is just the second time in the 65-year history of the European Cup that the big three won’t have a final four representative – the previous time was in 1991.

Bayern is the only team from the last four to have been to the final before and, looking at the numbers, it is difficult not to fancy them.

Since Hansi Flick took the helm, Bayern has gone unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions since early December – winning 27, the last 19 and all 13 since the restart after the coronavirus-related suspension of play.

It has scored 155 goals this season and reached the semi-finals with an extraordinary 8-2 demolition of Barcelona on Friday.

Lyon faces a daunting task against Bayern, but having beaten Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus in the last 16 and then Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 3-1 in the quarters it will not throw in the towel beforehand.

Winning the title is the only chance for Lyon to play in Europe next season after it finished a modest seventh in the abandoned French league, which was won yet again by PSG.

But for the Parisians, and their Qatari owners, all that counts is winning the Champions League to join the truly established top clubs in Europe after it got past Atalanta in the last eight.

In its 50-year history, PSG has only made the European Cup semi-finals once before, in 1995.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who along with Flick and Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann, is one of three German mentors left in another first.

Nagelsmann – at 33, the youngest coach to reach the Champions League semis – aims to have another good game plan for PSG after masterminding a 2-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid.