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Champions League: Dortmund face familiar foes PSG in semi finals

Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain will meet in the Champions League semi-finals, almost eight months after facing off in the opening match of their European…

Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain will meet in the Champions League semi-finals, almost eight months after facing off in the opening match of their European campaigns.

The two sides emerged from this season’s ‘group of death’, which also featured Italian giants AC Milan, who made last season’s final four and ambitious Newcastle.

While PSG were tipped to go far in what has become Kylian Mbappe’s farewell tour, Dortmund surprisingly topped the group.

The 1997 winners are now on the cusp of returning to Wembley – the venue of their 2013 Champions League final loss to arch-rivals Bayern Munich.

Although another London meeting with Bayern is possible with the Bavarians on the other side of the draw, Dortmund will need to first get past PSG, who needed to come from behind in their quarter-final tie with Barcelona.

Dortmund delivered their worst performance in Europe this season at the Parc des Princes earlier this season but Edin Terzic’s underdog side will back themselves to spring an upset in the competition which matters the most to PSG and their Qatari backers.

‘Nonsense to say otherwise’
“If you’re already there, it makes sense to fight to play in the final,” a beaming Terzic said after the victory.

“We will try everything.”

Compared to their stuttering domestic form, Dortmund’s impressive Champions League record this season has not only perplexed observers, it has kept Terzic in a job.

Sitting 23 points in the table behind Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten champions Bayer Leverkusen Dortmund sit fifth and face an uphill battle to qualify for next year’s Champions League.

Tuesday’s win not only means Terzic is likely to stay in the dugout beyond this season, but it will also silence some of the dissenting voices criticising his squad selection.

One such talking point is his preference for journeyman forward Niclas Fuellkrug over teenager Youssoufa Moukoko to lead the line.

Against Atletico, Fuellkrug scored Dortmund’s third with a brilliant header to level the tie on 71 minutes, breaking a nine-game scoring drought, having been benched for Saturday’s win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

The 31-year-old striker, who had spent most of his career in the second division until helping Werder Bremen get promoted two seasons ago, is now headed for the Champions League semis in his first year in European football.

Describing the night as “magical”, Fuellkrug said, “Our only goal now is Wembley – it would be nonsense to say otherwise.”

‘We had some problems’
Dortmund were thoroughly outclassed in a 2-0 loss in Paris in September, but secured the top spot and arguably deserved victory in a 1-1 draw at home in December.

“There are of course some advantages and some disadvantages when you play against a team you have already faced in the competition,” Fuellkrug said afterwards.

“We were very good at home against the Parisians. I believe the knockout games are not comparable to the group games – they’re something else.

“You’ve seen what we’re capable of – that will give us lots of self-confidence through the next few weeks.”

Terzic admitted his side struggled in the French capital but said PSG would be facing a different Dortmund in the semis.

“We had some problems away from home but played a good game at home,” he said.

“You can see how we’ve developed, how solid we are now – we want to take advantage of that.”