The Athletic FC: Mbappe’s dream dies as Dortmund head to Wembley; Ten Hag debate continues

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Hello! Dream a little dream today. Like Borussia Dortmund and their yellow wall.

On the way:

👀 Mbappe’s fairytale ends, Hummels drives Dortmund to Wembley

🏃🏾 Can a footballer outsprint Usain Bolt?

🆕 Premier League trading cards change (ownership) hands

🇳🇱 Man Utd’s Ten Hag has some supporters… in the Netherlands

No French revolution for Mbappe and co

In moments of defiance, Paris Saint-Germain will tell themselves that their plan just about worked.

There’s more to the Qatari project there than football but cut through the geo-politics and what they wanted more than anything was a first Champions League.

It’s why they made Kylian Mbappe king. It’s why they poached Neymar and Lionel Messi from Barcelona. And they have had chances — quarter-finals, semi-finals, the final in 2020 — they have just never got it done.

Last night was a prime example, eliminated from the last four by a Borussia Dortmund team who fought for it brilliantly. Dortmund head to the final at London’s Wembley Stadium. PSG move into a different era. They and Mbappe are done. All things being equal, he heads to Real Madrid as a free agent.

You can put yesterday down as the closing chapter in PSG’s GOAT phase. It’s over.

It’s in the post…

A few minutes of madness gave Dortmund perfect clarity: PSG hitting a post at one end of the pitch, Dortmund heading up the other end and scoring through Mats Hummels almost immediately.

Hummels, 35, was in Rolls-Royce territory all game.

No doubt at all that the Germans came out on the right side of insanely tight margins, or that nothing ran for PSG. They hit a post again. Then they hit the crossbar twice.

They might have had a penalty, too, for this foul by Hummels on Ousmane Dembele. The referee gave a free kick and, you know what, I’ve watched this tackle countless times but I still don’t know what I think.

Kylian Mbappe says he has played last Champions League game for PSG… this season.

Dortmund dreaming of Wembley

I’m not going to paint Dortmund as destitute but one of the beauties of German football is the way it tries to keep hideously wealthy investors at arm’s length from its clubs.

Put it this way: if Mbappe decided to play the field this summer, he wouldn’t be fielding serious offers from Dortmund. Financially, they cannot vie for a player like him.

The world might have craved Mbappe versus Real in the final but there’s another nice story brewing here. Midfielder Marco Reus’ time is almost up at Dortmund. Nearing his 35th birthday and the end of his contract, he gets to check out on the biggest club stage.

Reus — pictured (top) celebrating with fans after the game — was in the team when Dortmund made the Champions League final in 2013, with Jurgen Klopp as coach. I looked back at that line-up and it was loaded: Reus, Hummels, Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gundogan, all hitting their primes.

This team? More a collection of misfits, including Jadon Sancho, on loan from Manchester United. I’m not telling you who to back in the final but a Dortmund win is as close as you’ll ever get to purity in the Champions League. No PSG triumph would ever have been that.

Bolt vs Mbappe

A slightly earlier start to Mbappe’s summer (PSG have the Coupe de France final to deal with first) gives him scope to pursue one of his ambitions: a race against Olympic hero Usain Bolt.

Bolt has been spoken about a fair amount in football: partly because of the trial he had at Central Coast Mariners in Australia a while ago (was he any good? “Erm, not as good as he thought he was”) but also because sprinting speeds in the Premier League seem to be on the up.

In February, Tottenham Hotspur’s Micky van de Ven posted a top speed only marginally slower than Bolt at full pelt when the Jamaican set the 100m world record.

It’s a meaningless comparison, obviously, and it didn’t take Bolt long to find out that straight-line pace only gets you so far in football. He can’t do what Mbappe does. Mbappe can’t do what he does. But hell, let’s get this race on anyway.

A Tantalising Two Minutes ⏱️

It just so happened that a few hours before PSG and Dortmund turned on the briefest passage of play, we had asked our writers to pick their ‘most exciting two minutes’ in football.

This was based on the Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in the U.S., and you’ll find some good choices in here. There’s a definite winner in my opinion: Troy Deeney for Watford against Leicester City. It was, by a street, the most epic play-off goal ever scored, 11 years ago this week.

Take the time to find the full footage online, even if you’ve seen it before. And as the live commentary went, don’t scratch your eyes…

Around The Athletic FC: Dutch courage for under-fire Ten Hag

07 05 TenHag

Getty Images / Simon Hughes

🇳🇱 Erik ten Hag’s hometown in the Netherlands is resolutely backing him — but get into the comments of this read by Simon Hughes and he’s running short of support at Manchester United. The ‘time to go’ camp is filling up.

🇪🇸 The best kid in the playground? That was a primary-school-aged Mikel Arteta. Children from the neighbouring primary used to scale a wall to watch him.

🇩🇪 We could be on for an all-German final in the Champions League. Bayern Munich have the small task of stopping Real Madrid tonight but Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t look like yielding to anyone.

  • Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich, 3pm ET / 8pm UK; Paramount+, TNT Sports 1. LIVE blog.

Bielsa and the amateur goal machine

Promising news for the wannabes among us, the five-a-siders and the Sunday league legends.

Reports in Uruguay say national coach Marcelo Bielsa — a man who follows up his own mind, always — is set to call up amateur goal machine Walter Dominguez, a striker who plays in the country’s lower leagues.

Disclaimer: he hasn’t actually been called up yet, it’s not certain he will be and the friendly he might play in, against Costa Rica, sounds like a bit of a trial event. Bielsa isn’t even planning to be there for it. But it hasn’t been discounted as a possibility. Which means Dominguez — 38 goals in 19 games for his club Juventud Soriano this season — could break the mould. There’s hope for us all.

Not sticking stickers

Everyone remembers their first football sticker album (you got it in one — Scottish Premier Division 1986-87).

The sticker and sports-card business has been booming for decades and we’ve got a little exclusive: the Premier League rights for them are leaving Panini. Fanatics Collectibles has secured a deal to supply them from June 2025. This makes me a bit nostalgic. I grew up with Panini and its logo, the knight with a lance — but money talks.

(Top photo: Reus celebrates Dortmund’s win – credit: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

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