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Borussia Dortmund beat PSG to reach Champions League final

Borussia Dortmund beat PSG to reach Champions League final


, Wednesday, 8 May 2024 (15:35 IST)
Borussia Dortmund head coach Edin Terzic said before the second leg of their Champions League semifinal with Paris Saint-Germain that if football games were decided on the favorites, his side wouldn't even have made it to this stage.
Now, the Bundesliga's current fifth-placed team are in their second Champions League final in London in 11 years.
Indeed, it was Dortmund, not the favorites, who looked more in control. It was Dortmund, whose squad is valued at less than half of their opponents, who landed the knockout blow. And it is Dortmund, a club whose majority owners are their fans and not a country, who are in the final.
"To make the final, where it all started in 2013, hats off," Marco Reus told Amazon afterward. "It's crazy that we're in the final. No one thought it was possible."
"There is always a team that makes the quarterfinal that people don't expect to be there and we wanted to be that team this year," Edin Terzic said afterward.
"I will drink more than one glass [of red wine] tonight," said Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke.
Luck on their side
Like all great sides, they needed their fair slice of luck. A deflection from defender Nico Schlotterbeck's went just wide instead of going in. Mats Hummels' sliding tackle clipped PSG's Ousmane Dembele centimeters outside the box rather than in.
French midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery hit the post from a tight angle when he looked destined to put the visitors in front. His Portuguese teammates Nuno Mendes and Vitiniha sent long-range efforts onto the post and bar, respectively.
An effort from Kylian Mbappe, a World Cup champion who is no stranger to scoring big goals, hit the bar with four minutes to go. PSG ended the tie having hit the woodwork six times and scoring no goals.
In both games, luck was on Dortmund's side, and composure was not on PSG's. When Reus was asked about the woodwork being on their side, he simply replied, "Who cares? No one will ask about that in the morning. They'll only see our name in the final."
To speak only of luck, though, would be to ignore how Dortmund have played in what has become a legendary run to the final. The German club finished top of a group with PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle. They dealt with PSV in the last 16, dramatically overcame Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals and overturned the overwhelming favorites without conceding.
Fitting, then, that this team of entertainers makes the Champions League final in the year they have looked the most inconsistent in the Bundesliga. Last season, they lost the German league title in heartbreaking fashion on the final day. This time around, they've twice drawn with Heidenheim and are nowhere near the top three.
A victory years in the making
But this victory was a testament to a team finding itself at the perfect time — Dortmund played the same starting eleven for the third straight game — and a coach who is showing he belongs at the top level. The club's last run to the Champions League final in 2013, one they lost to Bayern Munich in London, was due in part to the emergence of Kevin Grosskreutz, the fan-turned-player. Now, with Terzic, it's the fan-turned-coach. The connections in this club remain at its core.
"That's why we do it," said Terzic, watching the clips of his team celebrating with fans and friends afterward. "We wanted it last year in our own stadium, but the pictures looked different. Tonight, we were able to give some of that back to our fans today."
Perhaps there was an element of that carrying this team through this season. This was a victory for all those moments when the club's mentality was questioned, for the trauma of the bomb attack on the team bus in 2017, for Reus, the club's iconic figure who recently announced his departure after 12 years of service that passed with more major injuries than major titles, for the fans who traveled to Paris and had to pay more for the cheapest ticket than many PSG fans in Dortmund did, for a league that has shown the rest of Europe it is possible to enjoy football without opening the door to rampant capitalism.
The scenes of players, fans and families celebrating together afterward offered an opportunity to remember what this club and all connected to it have been through in recent years and why that makes this moment so special for them.
Hummels the hero
For a side whose pieces have finally fit together, it was only logical that Hummels, a club icon also critical in their 2013 Champions League run, won man of the match. The 35-year-old defender has played every minute in Europe this season, and while there have been dips this season, there have also been plenty of vintage performances from the veteran defender.
Tuesday night's showing in Paris was another example of that: a stretched foot to deny Mbappe, 78% of his tackles won, and in game 506, perhaps the most important goal of his career.
In 2017, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said of PSG's €222 million purchase of Neymar: "Once a country owns a club, everything is possible."
Everything, it seems, other than the Champions League title. Since the Qatari takeover, PSG have been to one final. Borussia Dortmund are now heading to their second in the same timeframe, and they might even face Bayern Munich all over again.

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