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Dortmund face Madrid at the 'home of football'

UCL final preview

2024/05/31 14:27

At Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday evening, we have the latest instalment of European football’s greatest game as Borussia Dortmund face Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Champions League.

Dortmund, looking for their second European title, come up against the royalty of Europe in 14-time European champions Madrid in a game that does appear to be something of a massive mis-match in terms of the two teams but, on the day, in football, who knows?

Ahead of the showpiece event in the city that has hosted the most European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals, we have a rundown and preview of the two teams and clubs as well as weighing with a prediction on who will be this season’s team to lift ‘old big ears’.


Manager: Edin Terzic (GER)

Domestic position: 5th in the Bundesliga

UCL best: Winners (1997)

Trophies won: 21 = Bundesliga x8, DFB-Pokal x5, DFB/DFL-Supercup x6, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup

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Summary: The last time Borussia Dortmund played in a UEFA Champions League final was also, coincidentally, the last time the final was played at Wembley Stadium as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Der Klassiker rivals Bayern Munich in the English capital with Jurgen Klopp at the helm.

Since then Dortmund have not necessarily underachieved but have most certainly failed to hit many heights, both domestically and on the continent. The Black and Yellows have, once again, underwhelmed in the Bundesliga this season and are only guaranteed a spot in the UEFA Champions League next season due to German clubs’ performances in UEFA competition this season meaning they are one of two leagues, alongside Italy’s Serie A, to receive an extra spot into the tournament.

The eight-time German champions fought manfully through the easier side of the draw en route to this final with a come from behind defeat of an underperforming Atletico Madrid side followed up by knocking out the true perennial underachievers, comedically so, Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals.

The performances of Mats Hummels have been magnificent in the knockout stages but his recent outspoken criticism of manager Edin Terzic has put a cloud over things as they travel to London – and also probably indicates why Julian Nagelsmann thought him not the best drinks carrier to take in his squad to UEFA EURO 2024.

Dortmund will play a functional style of football that seeks to harm Real Madrid’s biggest strengths and the battle between Julian Ryerson and Vinicius Junior is key. If Terzic prefers, he could play Julian Brandt in the hole of a 4-2-3-1 but the likelihood is that Salih Ozcan partners Emre Can and Marcel Sabitzer in a flatter midfield three. Eyes will be on wingers Jadon Sancho and Karim Adeyemi on the counter-attack if they are to spring a surprise. 

Run to Wembley…

Groups | Paris Saint-Germain (A) | 0-2 L
Groups | Milan (H) | 0-0 D
Groups | Newcastle United (A) | 1-0 W
Groups | Newcastle United (H) | 2-0 W
Groups | Milan (A) | 3-1 W
Groups | Paris Saint-Germain (H) | 1-1 D
R16 | PSV Eindhoven (A) | 1-1 D
R16 | PSV Eindhoven (H) | 2-0 W
QF | Atletico Madrid (A) | 1-2 L
QF | Atletico Madrid (H) | 4-2 W
SF | Paris Saint-Germain | 1-0 W
SF | Paris Saint-Germain | 1-0 W


Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Domestic position: Winners of La Liga

UCL best: Winners x14 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022)

Trophies won: 96 = La Liga x36, Copa del Rey x20, Copa de la Liga, Supercopa de Espana x13, UEFA Champions League x14, UEFA Europa League x2, UEFA Super Cup x5, FIFA Club World Cup x5

Summary: What to say about Los Blancos. Rooting for Real Madrid is perhaps an indictment on what football has become and the lack of a financial playing field but there is something warm and endearing about Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout and his band of experienced heads, such as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, with the former retiring at the end of UEFA EURO 2024, and world class youngsters like the aforementioned Vinicius as well as Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham.

Madrid have embodied the stereotype of themselves this season with almost comical ways of dramatically ‘finding a way’ as they seemingly always do and they did so again in the semi-finals with a late Joselu brace turning the game on its head against Bayern Munich a few weeks ago.


@Getty /

Madrid have suffered just two defeats across the entire season which encompasses 54 matches in all competitions with both of those defeats coming at the hands of city rivals Atletico Madrid at the Metropolitano and one of those coming in extra-time.
The way they play is pragmatic but that doesn’t make it dull – unless that suits the way they intend to play against the opponent. Ancelotti’s style is and always has been getting the best out of superstars and there is nowhere better to implement that than at Santiago de Bernabeu.

Vinicius will be key up against what is a slow Dortmund back-line and the late runs of Bellingham will cause havoc for what is likely to be three defensive-minded Dortmund midfielders. That will mean the Germans are likely pinned back so unlocking the door could be a challenge for Madrid and perhaps not something they are overly used to but they are overwhelming favourites. 

Run to Wembley…

Groups | Union Berlin (H) | 1-0 W
Groups | Napoli (A) | 3-2 W
Groups | Braga (A) | 2-1 W
Groups | Braga (H) | 3-0 W
Groups | Napoli (H) | 4-2 W
Groups | Union Berlin (A) | 3-2 W
R16 | RB Leipzig (A) | 1-0 W
R16 | RB Leipzig (H) | 1-1 D
QF | Manchester City (H) | 3-3 D
QF | Manchester City (A) | 1-1 D [AET 1-1 PENS 4-3]
SF | Bayern Munich (A) | 2-2
SF | Bayern Munich (H) | 1-0

Playmaker prediction: Real Madrid to win 

Whisper it but this one has the potential to follow a major trend in UEFA Champions League finals and be tortuous to watch for the neutral. If Dortmund are concerned by the likes of Rodrygo and Vinicius then their ageing and slow-ish back-line will be deep, thus opening the door for Bellingham but the three midfielders of Can, Ozcan and Sabitzer will not be much further up the pitch. Sancho and Adeyemi will have chances to isolate Madrid’s full-backs on the counter-attack but whether or not they have the quality to do so is another matter. Kroos and his likely 70th minute replacement Modric will be key in picking the lock and it could be a day for an unlikely hero off the bench with in-form Arda Guler and Brahim Diaz offering an incision and precision around the edge of the box. Madrid should win and may even cruise to victory but Dortmund, as they did against PSG for 180 minutes, will believe they can frustrate. 


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2024-05-31 15h52m by jreedmanbrst
As a football fan, I can't wait for this match! Dortmund may not have the same prestige as Madrid, but they have proven themselves as a formidable team. Can't wait to see who will lift the trophy!
2024-05-31 15h21m by jgibsonson
As a football fan, it's a huge disappointment to see such a mismatch in the final of the UEFA Champions League. Dortmund may have a chance, but it's hard to see them overcoming Madrid's dominance in European football. Still, as they say, anything can happen in football. Excited for the showdown at Wembley!
2024-05-31 14h53m by eyoungs8
As a football fan, I completely disagree with this article. I believe that Dortmund is a strong team and has the potential to beat Real Madrid in the final. While Madrid may have a long history of success in the Champions League, Dortmund has shown time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with. I am confident that Dortmund will come out on top and lift the trophy.


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