4 things we learned as PSG & Borussia Dortmund reach Champions League semi-finals

  • PSG overcame Barcelona with stunning aggregate comeback
  • Borussia Dortmund beat Atletico Madrid after 4-2 home win
  • Now set to face each other in Champions League semi-finals
Borussia Dortmund are into their first Champions League semi-final in 11 years
Borussia Dortmund are into their first Champions League semi-final in 11 years / Leon Kuegeler/GettyImages

Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund were the first two clubs to book a place in this season's Champions League semi-finals, each winning their last eight ties on Tuesday night.

PSG saw off Barcelona in emphatic fashion, winning 4-1 in Catalonia to seal a 6-4 aggregate victory, while Dortmund also knocked out Spanish opposition in Atletico Madrid.

The pair will now face each other for a place in the final.

La Remontada 2.0

Kylian Mbappe
PSG exacted revenge after seven years / Xavier Laine/GettyImages

Back in 2017, PSG led 4-0 from the first leg of their last 16 tie against Barcelona. Despite conceding three in the return game, an away goal – when those existed – looked set to secure their progression, given that Barca then needed three more goals in the final two minutes plus stoppage time.

What happened next is the stuff of Barcelona lore, Sergi Roberto sealing the mother of all comebacks in the 95th minute to blow the roof off Camp Nou.

Seven years on, PSG, led by the very coach who masterminded the original Remontada for Barcelona, got their revenge. Luis Enrique witnessed his team, already trailing 3-2 on aggregate, concede first in the second leg, before scoring four without reply to silence the Catalan crowd.

Mbappe’s Champions League dream lives on

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe could still deliver the Champions League before he leaves / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Kylian Mbappe will leave PSG at the end of this season for, the world assumes, Real Madrid. But you get the impression that he has been desperately willing his hometown club to succeed before he does, having had so many near misses and false dawns at this level, on the ultimate stage.

As his story in the French capital edges towards its conclusion, there is still chance that it could have the storybook ending that he has probably been dreaming of all these years.

Xavi’s farewell will be trophy-less

Xavi's night ended in petulance
Xavi's night ended in petulance / David Ramos/GettyImages

Having delivered an overdue La Liga title last season, Xavi’s last chance of securing Barcelona’s first Champions League trophy in nine years is gone and his final months in the job before walking away in summer won’t deliver any silverware.

Real Madrid are eight points clear in La Liga and not realistically catchable with so few games left, while Barca’s Copa del Rey campaign ended back in January at the quarter-final stage, ten days after also being thrashed by Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final.

The Champions League was all they had left, but Xavi didn’t even see it out, sent from the technical area for kicking out in frustration at nearby television equipment.

Dortmund are back

Dortmund are this season's dark horse contender
Dortmund are this season's dark horse contender / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Even with Jude Bellingham, Erling Haaland and a pre-Manchester United Jadon Sancho, Dortmund hadn't played in a Champions League semi-final since 2013. Jurgen Klopp was still manager back then and he’s about to leave Liverpool after nine years at Anfield.

Dortmund pulled off their own, albeit less spectacular than PSG, comeback to get through this one.

Atletico Madrid held a 2-1 aggregate lead prior to kick-off at Signal Iduna Park – the fact that Sebastien Haller reduced it to just one goal in the closing stages of the first leg proved big.

The tie swung in Dortmund’s favour with first half goals from Julian Brandt and Ian Maatsen, but Atletico reclaimed control thanks to an own goal and one from Angel Correa with under half an hour to play. Quickfire goals from Niclas Fullkrug and Marcel Sabitzer moments later pulled it back the other way, a 5-4 aggregate lead that the German wouldn’t relinquish.

Dortmund are outsiders compared to PSG and whichever sides get through on Wednesday, but still just having a seat at the table will give them at least a chance. Besides, they've gone all the way as underdogs before, back in 1997.