Mbappe leaves PSG after Champions League failure as deserved Dortmund eye Wembley retribution

Jason Soutar
Mats Hummels celebrates his goal; Kylian Mbappe looks dejected
Mats Hummels celebrates his goal; Kylian Mbappe looks dejected

Player of the match in the first leg and scorer of the tie-clinching goal in the second, Mats Hummels has sent Borussia Dortmund to Wembley 11 years later, giving Kylian Mbappe the chance to complete a transfer to a possible Champions League final opponent in the process.

Hummels started in Borussia Dortmund’s last semi-final appearance in the 2012/13 season and started both legs of their 2024 semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain. Nobody else has done that. Marco Reus – who could now lift that beautiful trophy on his final appearance for Dortmund – was there, but he was only a starter 11 years ago, not this year.

His heroic header to send Dortmund in to the final of the Champions League is one of those moments that makes you believe the beautiful game is scripted.

The last Champions League final at Wembley was between Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, with the latter in the other semi-final against Real Madrid – the team BVB beat in the semi that year. They could meet again in the British capital on June 1 and Edin Terzic’s side will be able to make amends after their devastating defeat in 2013, with Arjen Robben’s 89th-minute winner breaking black and yellow hearts.

Their first-leg performance against PSG last week was a masterful underdog home Champions League performance, and in fact, they will feel they should have arrived in the French capital with more than a one-goal advantage. On the other hand, PSG had their chances and hit the woodwork a couple of times.

Dortmund backed up their home win with an outstanding away European performance. Julian Brandt was occupying all of the right areas in midfield as the defence did their job perfectly, maintaining a solid shape off the ball with Hummels, Julian Ryerson and Nico Schlotterbeck excellent.

Their collective effort and the terrific protection from Marcel Sabitzer and Emre Can helped keep that man Kylian Mbappe quiet.

Overall, we have been disappointed by Mbappe in the latter stages of this season’s competition. At home to Barcelona in the quarter-final, he was anonymous as his team got trounced, before a quiet second leg in Catalonia was saved by two tie-clinching goals.

The first leg at Dortmund was all about Jadon Sancho and Hummels but again, on the highest stage, Mbappe went missing. He can not be made the scapegoat with Ousmane Dembele and Goncalo Ramos doing nothing to help PSG on a sickening night in their stadium. The only player who can hold his head high up from this Champions League campaign is Vitinha, who Wolves decided against signing for £16m once upon a time.

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Whether or not Mbappe should be a scapegoat does not matter, as someone regarded as the best footballer on the planet by most, he will receive criticism having failed to inspire his side against a team they were, with all due respect, favourites to beat.

There is no doubt that Dortmund had some luck along the way. PSG did hit the woodwork 200 times across both legs after all. Post and bar hits aside, they were not better than the German side in either game. They might have had more chances but their game plan did not work and Dortmund’s did. The defending from the German side was dogged and they did not concede a goal across both legs. It was a defensive masterclass and going to Wembley is well deserved, while Mbappe and friends deserve to be packing their bags.

While Dortmund seal their spot in the final, PSG will sit and wait for the campaign to end after another failed attempt at winning Europe’s premier competition. It’s never going to happen, is it? It’s almost like playing against teams you are massively superior to domestically doesn’t prepare you for the latter stages of the Champions League.

Having failed to win the competition with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co, and then Neymar, before Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, then Neymar, Mbappe and Lionel Messi, and now with Mbappe by himself, when are they going to manage it?

PSG will now move into an era without any of the above, which is when they will probably win it because football is weird like that.

Mbappe is leaving on a free transfer, much to the frustration of the PSG hierarchy, and is extremely likely to join Real Madrid. Now that the French champions are out of the Champions League and thus can not play Los Blancos in the final, you can expect to see a confirmation of the transfer at some point this month.

In truth, it has been a dark cloud hanging over Parc des Princes this season. The cloud would have been worth it had Mbappe brought the Champions League to Paris for the first time in the club’s history, though.

Instead, it is Borussia Dortmund who will face either Bayern or Madrid at Wembley on June 1 and the narrative is perfect. Reus and Hummels – the best player across both legs – can make amends for the heartbreak in the same arena 11 years on, potentially against the same team that beat them, while the latter will be competing for the biggest prize in club football on his final appearance for the club he has represented with immense loyalty since 2012. We can’t wait.

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