Alphonso Davies is going where no Canadian men’s national team player has gone before.
The UEFA Champions League final is undeniably one of club football’s biggest matches, and for the first time ever, a player that sports the Canada red internationally will not only be part of a team participating, but a definite name in the starting 11.
There has been a Canadian connection to the final in the past. Calgary-born-and-raised Owen Hargreaves won the Champions League title with Bayern Munich in 2001 and Manchester United in ‘08, but committed to playing for England rather than Canada internationally.
Davies’ rampant Bayern side looks to add to their five Champions League trophies against French juggernauts Paris Saint Germain, a club that has previously never reached the final.
It should come as no surprise to see the Bavarian club reach this stage of the competition. Given the season they have had, it seemed like it was always coming. With 10 Champions League wins in a row, and 28 wins and one draw from their last 29 across all competitions, Bayern are heavy favourites. And having won their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title, momentum is in the bucketload.
The real surprise has been the inclusion of the Canadian at such a young age, and in such an experienced team. The speedster has featured brilliantly in the German league as well this newly formatted Champions League.
After a blistering display in a 7-1 aggregate win over Chelsea that brought a highlight reel assist in the first leg, Davies topped it with another world-class assist in the following match against Barcelona. The match ended in an 8-2 destruction of the Spanish side in a lone knockout match.
The modern-day full-back. Alphonso Davies has everything... and he's only 19 #UCL pic.twitter.com/UzIlEPIqoR— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 19, 2020
Davies continued to introduce himself to the world in the semifinal against French underdogs Lyon. Though no sparkling attacking highlights came from this match like the others, the defensive side of his game was almost as impressive. The full-back had seven defensive recoveries in the match, and the best one is worth a look:
Time for another @AlphonsoDavies appreciation tweet. Check out this 30 second clip as the Bayern Road Runner goes defence to offence. Looking forward to seeing him go up against the PSG forwards #MeepMeep #MiaSanMia #UCL pic.twitter.com/yvaWxiZzZY— Gerard Yee (@geeyee17) August 20, 2020
‘The Roadrunner’, as he was dubbed by teammate Thomas Muller, will have his hands even more full defensively in the final.
PSG boast one of the best front lines in the game of soccer right now. The lethal Neymar, rapid Kylian Mbappe, and creative Angel Di Maria will be the three men up top for the Parisian side. The venomous attack will look to run in behind a Bayern defence that has only allowed three goals in their last three matches.
The trio all started in the semifinal against RB Leipzig in which they won by a commanding 3-0 scoreline.
For this PSG vs Bayern UCL final, the one-on-one battle that many football fans will be feasting their eyes on will be Davies versus Mbappe. This has the potential to be one of the most exhilarating foot-races in the game this year.
Mbappe v Alphonso Davies. God will help the cameramen— puli, (@teyiadzufehh) August 19, 2020
Though Davies plays as a left-back and Mbappe starts on the left side of the PSG three pronged attack, we should still expect to see some chase-downs at a truly remarkable pace.
Davies is no stranger to the big challenge of facing one of the worlds best players given he outperformed Lionel Messi, his idol, in the quarter-final, and outpaced the entire team.
Alphonso Davies will run right past you. #AlphonsoDavies #Roadrunner @AlphonsoDavies pic.twitter.com/gvIgGjWZgS— Footbolé (@ThisIsFootbole) August 16, 2020
However, Mbappe on the big stage is still a frightening site. The young Frenchman was an integral part of the France side that won the 2018 World Cup, scoring four goals en route to the victory.
A number of Mbappe’s fellow countrymen will be in the Bayern dressing room, including defender Lucas Hernandez. The defender started as France’s left back in their World Cup run, but has consistently been kept out of the lineup throughout both Bundesliga season and in the UCL by none other than Alphonso Davies.
Another of Mbappe’s French teammates that plays for Bayern is Kingsley Coman. The winger was asked in an interview who he thought was the faster player, Davies or Mbappe? His response may (or may not) surprise you.
Who’s faster out of Kylian Mbappe and Alphonso Davies? A man that’s played with both speedsters, Kingsley Coman has the answer:#UCL #UCLFinal— Jordan Fabian Khan (@Jofkha) August 22, 2020
Aside from the pace of Mbappe, Davies will have to overcome to the challenge of trying to contain Di Maria and Neymar. The two South American attackers are capable of ghosting by players with their trickery and can create chances in an instant. It will all prove to be a test for the young defender, but in a season full of success in the craft, and in a team full of experience in these types of matches, he should feel some confidence going into this final.
For a 19 year old that made a shift to left-back just last year, it is incredible to see the world-class displays come so naturally. Going forward, Davies has the know-how to get by his man and deliver beautiful balls into the box, and his nine assists this season speak to that. Defensively, he uses his incredible pace and strength to make up for what may be poor positioning. However, even when caught out, it seems inevitable that the chase-down recovery will be successful.
Today is the day let’s goo!! pic.twitter.com/fy3lDuHtHs— Alphonso Davies (@AlphonsoDavies) August 23, 2020
Do not be surprised if you see a man of the match display from the young Canadian.
The biggest match of Alphonso Davies career will take place on Sunday, August 23, at 3PM ET.