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5 Players Who Underperformed In Champions Leage Semi-Finals

Written by on May 10, 2024

Having enjoyed four fascinating games across two weeks, it is safe to say the UEFA Champions League semi-finals lived up to the billing. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich played out a 2-2 draw at the Allianz Arena in the first leg, setting the stage for a do-or-die bout at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Los Blancos got the job done at the Bernabeu, snatching a 2-1 win right at the end.

Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, beat Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) 1-0 at Signal Iduna Park in the first leg. Many expected the Parisians to turn it around in the second leg at the Parc des Princes, but they could not do justice to their reputation. Dortmund scored through Mats Hummels in the second half of the second leg and sealed an aggregate 2-0 victory.

Vinicius Jr., Joselu, Harry Kane, Toni Kroos, Jadon Sancho, and Hummels were some of the standout performers over the two legs, but today’s article is not about the ones who impressed. Continue reading to meet five top players who did not live up to expectations in the Champions League semi-finals.

#5 Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham Was Not At His Best In The Semi-Finals
Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham Is One Of The Most Valuable Players In The World

Including one of the standout players of the season on this list may look harsh, but Jude Belling really did underperform in the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich. The England international worked tirelessly from start to finish and linked up well with his teammates. However, in the final third, he was quite mediocre. He rarely made inroads into the box and Bayern players blocked his through-balls and outside-the-box efforts with little difficulty.

Bellingham’s performance in the first leg at the Allianz Arena was particularly disappointing, as he ceded possession thrice, lost five ground duels, misplaced both his attempted long balls, and failed to dispatch even a single shot. He will be eager to set the record straight when he meets his former team Borussia Dortmund in his country’s home stadium, Wembley, on June 1.

#4 Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer Was Poor In Champions League Semi-FinalManuel Neuer Was Poor In Champions League Semi-Final
Manuel Neuer’s Mistake Led To Real Madrid’s First Goal

Arguably the best goalkeeper of the 21st century, Manuel Neuer, was well below his lofty standards in the Champions League semi-finals against Real Madrid. He excelled as a sweeper when needed, but his shot-stopping was poor.

While he could not do much to stop Vinicius Jr. from bagging a brace in the first leg, he certainly could have done a lot better to deny Joselu in the second. In the 88th minute, Vinicius Jr. tested him with a drive from outside the box. Given his quality, it should have been an easy catch, but he shockingly spilled it in front of Joselu, who tucked it away from point-blank range. A couple of minutes later, Antonio Rudiger assisted Joselu for a simple tap-in, and Neuer uncharacteristically made no attempts to stop the ball from going in. Instead, he immediately raised his hand for offside, which the VAR overturned.

#3 Rodrygo – Real Madrid

Rodrygo Was Not At His Best In Champions League Semi-FinalsRodrygo Was Not At His Best In Champions League Semi-Finals
Rodrygo Lacked End Product Against Bayern Munich

While Vinicius Jr. dazzled with his performance over two legs, bagging two Man of the Match awards, Rodrygo endured two sub-par Champions League semi-final outings against Bayern Munich. The Real Madrid No. 11 worked hard, made himself available, and took on opponents, but the end product simply was not there. In the first leg, Rodrygo could not test the goalkeeper even once, while in the second leg, he failed to convert when presented with an excellent opportunity inside the opening quarter. Had the 23-year-old been at his clinical best, Real Madrid probably would not have had to suffer to reach the final.

With Kylian Mbappe close to joining Los Blancos in the summer, either Vinicius Jr. or Rodrygo will have to make way. And unless Rodrygo takes his performances up a notch, Carlo Ancelotti will not have to think too much about the call.

#2 Ousmane Dembele – PSG

PSG Star Ousmane Dembele Struggled In UCL SemisPSG Star Ousmane Dembele Struggled In UCL Semis
PSG Star Ousmane Dembele Had A Forgettable Semi-Final

Ousmane Dembele scored in both legs as PSG bagged a 6-4 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. However, he could not make a similar impact against his former club Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals. He struggled to beat defenders in one-on-one situations, misplaced plenty of crosses, and visibly ran out of steam toward the end of both games.

His performance in the second leg at the Parc des Princes was particularly disappointing. Throughout the 90, he had only one shot, which flew off target, misplaced a whopping 13 crosses, ceded possession twice, and lost 12 of 18 duels. He also committed three fouls and saw a yellow card for not playing by the rules.

#1 Kylian Mbappe – PSG

PSG Ace & Real Madrid Target Kylian MbappePSG Ace & Real Madrid Target Kylian Mbappe
PSG Ace Kylian Mbappe Was Not At His Best In The Champions League Semi-Finals

Arguably the best player in Europe, Kylian Mbappe was shockingly poor as PSG fell to a 2-0 aggregate defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semi-finals.

Dortmund did well to isolate the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner in the final third. Lacking service up top, Mbappe had to drop to midfield to get into the game, which nullified his threat to a great extent. Mbappe still broke free a few times but the woodwork came to the Germans’ rescue.

After the 1-0 defeat to Dortmund at the Parc des Princes, Mbappe took responsibility. He acknowledged that he should have been the first one to score, and apologized to PSG fans across the world. Over two legs, Mbappe had four shots on target, lost possession four times, and lost 13 duels. Not the end he wanted at PSG.

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