Champions League takeaways: ‘NCM’ proving its worth for PSG

Wednesday was a litmus test of sorts for both Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.

In the end, it was PSG who passed with a 3-0 win in their Champions League Group B clash. The victory extends the Parisians’s home unbeaten streak in the Champions League to 10 games and is their fourth consecutive triumph over Bayern at the Parc de Princes.

Here are three thoughts from Wednesday’s marquee match…

Dull Bayern Munich underwhelms again

Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern have left a lot to be desired this season, and that trend continued on Wednesday.

Bayern dictated the tempo of the game, but Robert Lewandowski was isolated and there was a lack of pace in the final third. The visitors also relied heavily on crosses. The German champions mustered a few quality attempts, although it was easier for PSG to clear the danger.

This is a side that was devastating under Pep Guardiola. There was incisiveness and never-ending movement in the final third, which made it difficult for the opposition to contain Bayern.

There is a transition period at Bayern given the aging squad and Ancelotti is known as a laid-back coach. However, there is no semblance of a plan when the team attacks. That must change.

Credit to Silva, Areola

PSG’s front three will steal the headlines, but captain Thiago Silva and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola deserve immense plaudits for their respective performances.

Silva was the reason Bayern could not generate many chances via crosses. The Brazilian centre-back was always in the right position to head the ball out of the box. When he was not present, Areola made the save.

The PSG shot-stopper bizarrely chose to stay on his line instead of coming out for the majority of crosses and set pieces, but he still produced some fine saves. If not for him, Bayern might have kept the game close.

The ‘NCM’ delivers

Not for the first time nor the last, PSG’s front three was the difference.

Of course, when a club splurges €500 million on three forwards, they are expected to click right away. Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe have done exactly that, even with the notorious penalty incident against Lyon on Sept. 17.

Neymar slalomed through the Bayern defence and laid off a gorgeous pass for Dani Alves, who bagged the opener less than 90 seconds into the game. The Brazilian scored PSG’s third of the day to bring up his seasonal tally to six goals in seven matches.

Mbappe provided the assist on Neymar’s goal and the 18-year-old was arguably the best of the three. Bayern’s back line could not contain the Frenchman’s wondrous pace, and his vision isn’t too bad, either. Whenever Paris countered, it was their teenaged sensation at the heart of the attacks.

Cavani, who converted his 10th goal in as many matches this season, continues to score at an incredible rate. The Uruguayan has an unfair reputation of missing too many opportunities, but no forward can make those runs and find themselves in those quality positions. PSG’s No. 9 deserves credit for even generating those quality chances. After all, he finished the previous season with 49 goals in 50 games. Only Lionel Messi had more.

PSG entered the Champions League as a strong contender to win the competition. With the ‘NCM’ frontline, it will be a Herculean task to topple the Ligue 1 giants.