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Champions League: eternal regrets or heading towards History, PSG facing its destiny

The favorite PSG against Dortmund? This is what we could legitimately say before the first leg, last Wednesday at Signal Iduna Park.

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Champions League: eternal regrets or heading towards History, PSG facing its destiny

The favorite PSG against Dortmund? This is what we could legitimately say before the first leg, last Wednesday at Signal Iduna Park. Best players, upward momentum, peaceful context… Everything indicated it. What’s changed since then? Nothing. Borussia, however, is not a second-rate team, and they earned respect in their magnificent and boiling stadium, winning 1-0 a match that could have gone to either side. The fifth in the Bundesliga could also have benefited from a wider advantage... There were chances. Big ones. Huge opportunities for some of them. Niclas Fullkrug converted one, on a defensive alignment error... and because Nico Schlotterbeck, author of the decisive pass, was not close enough. “A team is like an orchestra. Players can be world stars, they must help in defense, and our defenders, as good as they are in defense, must help bring the ball into the opposing area,” squeaks Luis Enrique.

Winners of their last two European trips, to San Sebastian (1-2) and Barcelona (1-4), the Rouge et Bleu did not have their best game in Germany, that is quite clear. For its part, the BVB pulled out all the stops and pocketed the first round. Place in second, this Tuesday (9 p.m., Canal and RMC Sport 1), at the Parc des Princes. 90 minutes, 120 and penalties if you like, to join Bayern Munich or Real Madrid in the final, June 1, at Wembley.

Obviously, the status of favorite gives nothing, no privileges, no gifts. We will expect more from Luis Enrique, some of whose choices have been questioned in Germany, but also from his major players, starting with Kylian Mbappé, who appeared discreet in the Ruhr but who could have finished with an assist and a goal. It didn't matter much. So close, so far. The famous details. Those who make the victories and the defeats, the qualifications and the eliminations, those who give rise to eternal regrets or who allow History to be written, with a capital “H”.

And there is the mental aspect which has so often sinned in Paris, the management of emotions, of pressure. “We are aware of the pressure, but the group is very calm. We are confident and we are sure that we will qualify for the final,” Mbappé insisted on Sunday. “We will win, that’s for sure,” confirmed Luis Enrique at a press conference, in French in the text. “That’s all I know how to say in French,” he laughed. And I always think how my team is going to win. For this, there is no miracle recipe. This time, you will have to put the balls deep, make every effort to lose, including the attackers, and be even more attentive behind. People died of starvation. This is what the Parc des Princes will be waiting for. A Park who will play his role as 12th man, that's for sure. “He is a great opponent, I am sure that it will be a very complicated match, a match which will be decided on the details, but confidence comes from preparation, from work, from the certainty that the supporters will have a very nice party and that they will push us to the end,” says Marquinhos, assuring that said fans “can change a match with their songs, their energy”.

However, it will be up to the players to do the work, to play, to win. It will be without their warrior, Lucas Hernandez, out for the rest of the season. No excuse. Back against the wall. As in the previous round against Barcelona (2-3, 4-1), as in 2020 against… Dortmund (1-2, 2-0). “If we concede a goal, it doesn't matter, it happened to us against Barça. You have to stay calm. If we score two goals quickly it will be up to the opponent to react,” slips Luis Enrique, who has brought a very new serenity to Paris. And this even if the group remains relatively young. Like “Marqui”, the most capped player in the history of the Parisian club, certain elements are, however, flawed. Mixture that works so far. “This experience is important, to have players who have had key moments, decisive moments. In the locker room, we are very well served in this area… The coach also has this experience, he knows how to prepare very well for this type of key match, a match which can result in a qualification like that,” he underlines.

Also read “Confidence comes from the work of the whole season”: Marquinhos believes in it before PSG-Dortmund

There is a final at the end, the fourth in the European Cup for PSG, its second in C1. The opportunity to offer France its second Champions League, 31 years after OM. The stakes are enormous, exciting, dizzying. What if it’s the right year, 13 years after QSI arrived? Faced with this BVB 09, without disrespect, the opportunity is too good to return to the final. The disappointment would only be more painful in the event of going off track. The joy, all the more intense in the event of qualification. “What would happen if we were eliminated? Nothing, life would go on, the sun will rise, and when there is sunshine in Paris, it's always wonderful,” smiles Luis Enrique, seeking to reduce the pressure weighing on his players' shoulders. It is nevertheless there, very present. PSG facing its destiny.

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