Champions League semis shows depth of Newcastle achievement

Paris St-Germain v Borussia Dortmund

Spare a thought for Eddie Howe.

While Borussia Dortmund and Paris St-Germain were going at it for a place in the Champions League final on Tuesday evening, the Newcastle boss could be forgiven for contemplating what might have been

Drawn against both sides in this season’s fabled ‘group of death’, the Magpies went toe to toe with both last autumn, memorably thrashing the French champions at St James’ Park but ultimately coming up short in the face of experienced and savvy European giants.

Indeed, twin defeats to Dortmund home and away cost Howe’s side dearly, albeit it was a tight loss in the North East with Callum Wilson hitting the bar and Anthony Gordon twice coming close to stealing at least a point.

Not to mention that draw in the French capital where Kylian Mbappe netted a controversial late penalty that denied the Magpies all three points.

If nothing else, the fact Dortmund and PSG made the semi-finals - the former progressing to Wembley - demonstrates the calibre of opposition Newcastle were forced to rub shoulders with on their return to the elite.

And they did not look out of place.

An injury crisis of seismic proportions may have derailed hopes of returning to the tournament next season, but the recent form of Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimaraes and Gordon among others has reminded Europe of exactly what they are capable of.

A strong finish across the final week – with three eminently winnable games against Brighton, Manchester United and Brentford – will ensure some form of European football next season (see below post).

And it may just convince their current crop of superstars that the future remains bright at St James’ Park.

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