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Four talking points from the Champions League semi-finals

Four talking points from the Champions League semi-final action, featuring Jude Bellingham’s shithousery and Jadon Sancho’s sparkling performance.

Min-jae meltdown costs Bayern

Harry Kane has said Bayern Munich will travel to Real Madrid with confidence ahead of their Champions League semi-final second leg, though the Germans will feel the trip should – and could – have been made with an advantage.

A first-leg draw leaves the tie finely balanced, ahead of a huge return at the Bernabeu next week. Bayern began brilliantly at the Allianz Arena and had 60% of the possession and six shots inside the opening 20 minutes, but a mistake from Kim Min-jae contributed to the opener for Real Madrid.

Sold by Vinicius’ initial movement towards the ball, the South Korean overcommitted and was then left a distant second in the footrace to Toni Kroos’ through ball in behind. Bayern turned the game around through Leroy Sane’s stunning strike and Kane’s penalty, though a needless foul from Min-jae cost his side late on. The centre-back’s tug on Rodrygo handed the Spaniards a late penalty and leaves the tie level.

Min-jae earned plenty of plaudits for his role in Napoli’s Scudetto last season but found club football’s biggest stage tough this week.

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Bellingham’s got a bit, hasn’t he?

Jude Bellingham is a winner. The Real Madrid midfielder might have struggled to impact the game during his side’s 2-2 draw at Bayern Munich, but one moment in particular showed the midfielder’s win-at-all-costs attitude.

With Harry Kane waiting to take a penalty for Bayern Munich, Bellingham wandered over and uttered some mind games down the ear of his England teammate. It failed to do the trick as Kane confidently dispatched his 43rd goal of the season in all competitions, but showed that Bellingham has no qualms in going against the grain in his pursuit of success.

To try shithousery on an international teammate and the England captain was bold from Bellingham, but we’re here for it.

Sancho sends message to Manchester United

Jadon Sancho struggled to make his mark at Manchester United and there were not many overly upset to see the winger leave on loan for Borussia Dortmund in January. A fallout with Erik ten Hag paved the path for an exit, with Sancho signing for his former club in the winter window.

Since returning to Germany, he’s failed to truly recapture the form that persuaded Manchester United to spend £72.9m on his services in 2021, but provided a reminder of his talent this week.

The 24-year-old was the best player on the pitch as Dortmund took a step towards the Champions League final with a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain. Sancho completed a mammoth 13 dribbles against PSG, the most in a Champions League game this season, recorded three key passes, and won 14 ground duels.

He was electric at the Westfalenstadion on the biggest stage, the sort of performance we have not seen since his first spell in Black and Yellow. It’s too soon to say he’s back, but this was more like it.

Vitinha a shining light (again) for PSG in defeat

The talk surrounding Paris Saint-Germain often revolves around Kylian Mbappe. Quite rightly, amid 43 goals and counting this season, the France captain is the headline act.

However, should PSG progress to the Champions League final, Vitinha will have had as crucial a role as any player in Luis Enrique’s squad. Outstanding across both legs of the quarter-finals win over Barcelona, the midfielder was PSG’s best player once again in the 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund this week.

The 24-year-old had 93 touches, completed 96.3% of his passes, including 12/12 long balls, and won three tackles and four ground duels in a trademark all-action showing. It’s hard to believe this is the same player who struggled on loan at Wolves in 2020/21, in what has been a brilliant individual season in Paris. A prominent role with Portugal this summer, despite a wealth of talent in midfield, is not beyond him in this form.

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