Borussia Dortmund vs PSG: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can have a positive impact when Borussia Dortmund and PSG lock horns on Wednesday.

The 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stage will end on Wednesday, with many spots in the Round of 16 still up for grabs. The Group of Death presents two intriguing fixtures, one of which will see Borussia Dortmund and PSG clashing at Signal Iduna Park.

Borussia Dortmund can finish atop Group F after going unbeaten between Matchday 2 and Matchday 5. The Black and Yellows lost their first UEFA Champions League game of the season to Paris Saint-Germain, creating doubts about their credentials to reach the Round of 16. But they have bounced back well to qualify for the knockout phase.

On the other hand, PSG started the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League with a win over Borussia Dortmund. But they have faltered since then, managing only one victory in four subsequent fixtures. The latest saw them get out of jail to hold Newcastle United to a 1-1 draw, which kept them ahead of the Magpies.

With PSG’s qualification on the line, there is no margin of error. On the other hand, Borussia Dortmund cannot take this game lightly as they need a point to seal the top spot in Group F. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three players who can tip the scales for their teams with their performance on Wednesday.

Julian Brandt

We begin our list with a Borussia Dortmund player before rounding it off with two Paris Saint-Germain stars. But the usual suspect Marco Reus does not make the cut, with Julian Brandt instead getting the nod.

The German international has endured a topsy-turvy ride at Borussia Dortmund since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen. While he has had bouts of inconsistency, the player has often stepped up and singlehandedly influenced the proceedings in many games.

That has also been the case this season, with Brandt being one of the most consistent performers for Borussia Dortmund. He is the player who makes the Black and Yellows tick, and his output in the final third will determine whether Dortmund can make matters worse for the inconsistent PSG side.

If Brandt rises to the occasion, Borussia Dortmund can run rings around the sub-par PSG, with the full-backs, in particular, leaving space for the hosts to exploit. If not, the away side might run away with the game, considering the inconsistencies of the Dortmund attack.

Kylian Mbappe

The key man for PSG. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

We move on to the PSG part of the column, with the list continuing with Les Parisiens’ talismanic attacker. We are talking about Kylian Mbappe, who needs to rise to the occasion for PSG to return home with the maximum quota of points.

PSG’s inconsistencies in the UEFA Champions League are not surprising, considering Mbappe has found the back of the net only thrice in five appearances thus far. That is uncharacteristic of the French international, who tends to step up on the bigger occasions.

That was evident when Mbappe almost singlehandedly helped France nearly clinch a second successive World Cup triumph in Qatar last year. But with goals not coming at the usual rate for the 24-year-old, the Ligue 1 champions have not delivered the goods as well as they would have liked.

However, PSG will take heart from Mbappe’s excellent form in Ligue 1, with the exceptional attacker amassing 15 goals and two assists in 14 league appearances. The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner, whose future has attracted clubs like Chelsea, Newcastle United, Liverpool, and Real Madrid, must bring those performances to the final Champions League Group Stage game.

Achraf Hakimi

Our list ends with a defender, which does not happen usually with these features. But we have picked Achraf Hakimi, whose marauding runs can capitalise on the vulnerabilities of the Borussia Dortmund backline.

Like Mbappe, Hakimi scored in the reverse fixture to seal the three points for PSG. His runs and precise deliveries from the flanks can trouble the home side’s defensive unit, which has often flattered to deceive, although that has not been the case in the UEFA Champions League.

However, considering the Black and Yellows come into the game on the back of a disappointing performance in the Bundesliga, Hakimi and PSG will know the hosts are ripe for the taking. So, if the Moroccan international rises to the occasion, Les Parisiens can punish the home side while taking the burden off Mbappe’s shoulders.

Hakimi also has history with Wednesday’s hosts, having played for them for two seasons between 2018 and 2020. So, he will be eager to make his mark at his former stomping ground. Expect a rollicking display by the former Borussia Dortmund full-back.

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