The ideal Champions League final is within reach if Mbappé and Real Madrid can deliver

The tantalizing prospect of Kylian Mbappé squaring up to Real Madrid in the Champions League final looms large.

Mbappé becomes a free agent at the end of the season when Madrid is favorite to finally land the forward it has coveted for so long.

Before that there are trophies to be won, with none bigger in club soccer than the Champions League.

Madrid has dominated the competition with 14 wins, while Paris Saint-Germain and Mbappé are still waiting for their first.

Mbappé’s imminent departure has partly been attributed to PSG’s failure to transfer its domestic dominance to the continent. How ironic then if the France forward triumphed in his final year at the club, especially against the team he looks likeliest to join.

Conversely, a record-extending 15th crown for Madrid at the expense of PSG would serve only to confirm to Mbappé that his ambitions are best served at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

With PSG and Madrid kept apart in the draw, either narrative is in play, but the Champions League has a habit of getting in the way of such well-laid plans.


A repeat of the 2013 final anyone?

Bayern beat Dortmund the last time the final was staged at Wembley Stadium, which is the venue again this year. How Dortmund — then coached by Jurgen Klopp — would love to avenge that loss 11 years on.

Dortmund is the outsider to win the trophy having unexpectedly advanced to the semifinals in a season when it trails German champion Bayer Leverkusen by 23 points and may have to rely on a bonus fifth-place spot to qualify for next year’s Champions League.


Mbappe isn’t the only person targeting a fairy tale finale. Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel is stepping down at season’s end after the German giant’s 11-year Bundesliga title-winning streak was broken by Leverkusen.

In a summer when big jobs will be available at the likes of Liverpool and Barcelona, Tuchel could do with rebuilding his reputation by winning a second Champions League trophy, having previously lifted it with Chelsea in 2021.


Harry Kane was expected to finally end his wait to win major silverware when he joined Bayern from Tottenham last summer.

It hasn’t worked out that way so far.

Despite the England striker continuing his outstanding scoring form in Germany with 39 goals in all competitions, the Champions League is his last chance of a trophy in his first season at the club.

What better place to end that drought than at English soccer’s national stadium?


Manchester City’s hopes of starting a new period of European dominance were ended by the all-time king of Europe, Madrid.

Despite dominating the semifinals second leg, Pep Guardiola’s team could not take advantage, drawing 1-1 through extra time and 4-4 on aggregate before losing in a penalty shootout 4-3.

A lack of cutting edge at Etihad Stadium proved City’s undoing and continued a theme against elite teams this season. City has not won in seven games against Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool this term. Having lost key players such as Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez after last season’s treble of trophies, it was revealing the lack of game-changing players Guardiola could summon from the bench against Madrid.

With Erling Haaland failing to score in four games against Madrid, perhaps Guardiola will look for more firepower in the offseason.


Missing out on the semifinals denied Barcelona some 12.5 million euros ($13.4 million) in prize money that would have helped its poor finances. While Madrid is waiting to welcome Mbappé, Barcelona is expected to have to sell players after having already sold off club assets, including part of its future television revenues, in recent years.

The loss to PSG this week ended an unbeaten run of 13 games since coach Xavi Hernández said in January he will step down after the season.

Barcelona’s only hope to send Xavi away with a title depends on winning at Madrid on Sunday and hoping its rival goes into a tailspin in what remains of the Spanish league. Madrid leads Barcelona by eight points.


Bayern will host Madrid and Dortmund is home against PSG in the first legs of the semifinals.

Bayern-Madrid is on April 30, and Madrid will stage the return leg on May 8.

Dortmund-PSG is on May 1, and PSG has the second leg on May 7.

The final is at Wembley in London on June 1.


AP Sports Writer Joseph Wilson in Barcelona contributed.


James Robson is at


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