Takeaways from PSG’s Champions League exit to Borussia Dortmund – Get French Football News

Takeaways from PSG’s Champions League exit to Borussia Dortmund – Get French Football News

We really thought we could get to the final. We were the better team… but it’s football, sometimes it isn’t fair.” Paris Saint-Germain’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi summarised after another disappointing exit from the Champions League. It would be their third semi-final in five years, but unlike in 2020, there would be no shot at glory as the final whistle blew.

PSG had been defeated by Borussia Dortmund home and away by a 1-0 scoreline. It would be an easy point to make that this doesn’t particularly read like PSG deserved to reach the final, but Al-Kehalifi was not being entirely unfair in his assessment.

Perhaps not the better side, but possibly the more dangerous team as they were left rueing the fine margins that seemed to create a chasm between them and their opposition. PSG hit the post or the crossbar six times overall in the semi-final, if just one of those chances went in then the makeup and the feeling of the game would have been very different. But if is only a consolation, and if doesn’t win European titles. 

Tactical mistakes from Luis Enrique 

Luis Enrique’s decision-making across the knockout stages does have to be questioned. There is a case to be made that the Spaniard entered each round of the competition on the back foot due to his tactical composition. Their progress into the semi-finals became a testament to how he would correct his course after his opening gambits would stutter. 

Against Real Sociedad, the Basque side’s intense pressing made life difficult for PSG’s attempts to pass and control in their first meeting. An adjustment with Ousmane Dembélé as a false nine in the second leg prevented the same mistakes. And against Barcelona, Marco Asensio as the false nine was quickly scrapped as an ineffectual ploy against the deep and direct side. 

When travelling to Dortmund last week, their slow start to the tie was no different. They failed to record a single shot on target in the first half and their movements looked far too passive to ever threaten to shake the yellow wall. The decision to bring on Randal Kolo Muani instead of Gonçalo Ramos when searching for a goal was particularly strange. Ramos had scored 7 in his last 10 games often when coming off the bench, while the Frenchman had not scored since the 10th of February.

End of an era or a brave new world for PSG? 

There is no escaping the sense that on multiple counts this was a missed opportunity for the French champions. Firstly, they were playing a Dortmund side that have struggled domestically and outside of these two games had not kept a clean sheet since the 30th of March. However, more pertinently this was to be the final campaign that Les Parisiens could rely on Kylian Mbappé. 

It is all but officially confirmed that Mbappé will leave Paris at the end of the season for Real Madrid. The game last night was to be his swansong at the Parc des Princes on the European stage. As the final whistle blew, PSG could not escape the feeling that this was to be the end of an era.

Football is cyclical and while the departure of Mbappé will change the very fabric of the club, the end of an era can bring about a brave new world. Despite another European disappointment, there are promising signs at PSG; the shift away from a team built around a collection of immensely talented stars towards a more balanced squad has undoubtedly put the club on the right path. And yet, as last night proved, simply being on the right path does not guarantee success. “Sometimes it isn’t fair.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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