Champions League Final: Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid Sports Guide

Follow Real Madrid vs Dortmund live in Champions League Final today

Welcome to match day. The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund kicks off tonight at 8pm local time (3pm ET) at Wembley Stadium in London.

Madrid, one of the game’s most decorated clubs, is a powerhouse on the elite stage, facing this season’s fifth-best team in Germany, Dortmund. The winners will be crowned champions of Europe.

Wherever you are in the world, we’ve got you covered. In this piece, you’ll find everything you need to know about club football’s biggest competition, from tactical talking points to deals with the devil.

Let’s get into…

Will the ‘Kings of Europe’ add another crown?

Victory at Wembley would secure Madrid’s 15th European Cup/Champions League title. They are the competition’s most successful club (followed by AC Milan with seven titles) and a hot topic throughout their special hold on the trophy. Athletic This week.

Just how Do they do it?

Avid fans of the club will tell you what it’s all about: the irresistible power of their love story, with continental-level glory. The banners at the Santiago Bernabeu are hailed as the ‘Kings of Europe’.

The nature of some of their recent results – comeback after comeback, late goal after late goal – certainly lends oxygen to that claim. It’s an oft-repeated half-joke even among highly analytical observers that explaining Madrid’s success is simply impossible, that all attempts at investigation will be rendered futile or, worse, by an inevitable stoppage-time reversal or some other bolt. . Like this:

Ahmed Walid, Mark Carey and John Muller answer the burning question: Is Madrid really unanalyzable?

Jacob Whitehead and Guillermo Roy take a different approach: a deep dive that involves meeting the club’s devout and superstitious fan base – as well as the opinions of mystics. Is there a higher power at work?

Dermot Corrigan reminded us that before the miracle of their 10th European Cup – winning ‘La Decima’ in the most dramatic circumstances – the storytelling around Madrid was very different indeed. The tension of achieving that elusive identity has boiled over into years of failure that have seen many managers fall.

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So Dortmund have no chance?

Faustian bargains aside, there is one clear reason why Madrid are the favourites: they have a strong squad.

The ratings above, based on a model designed by sports intelligence firm TwentyFirst Group, help show Madrid’s dominance.

But football is a game that often throws up surprises – especially in the knockout stages. Watch Dortmund’s semi-final win over Paris Saint-Germain.

Manchester United loanee Jadon Sancho was sensational in the first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, and not for the first time since returning to his former club.

Sancho provided pace alongside Karim Adeyemi and Doniel Mallen to support Nicklaus Fulcrug in Dortmund’s attack – a center forward Alan Shearer admires. They’ve had a great run at the break, but their run to the finals has been defensively solid.

The German conceded just nine goals in 12 matches and kept six clean sheets – the most in the Champions League since 1997-98, when they defended their European title and reached the semi-finals… where they lost to Real Madrid.

That 1997 win was Dortmund’s only Champions League triumph. They finished as runners-up against Bayern Munich in 2013 – and that final was also played at Wembley.

Many don’t want to upset them, but they’ve already defied the odds to get here.

Noteworthy – Madrid’s left wing

Dortmund pulled off a shocker by knocking out PSG – missing chance after chance in the return leg in Paris – but Madrid will be a different proposition.

As we’ve touched on, while Madrid thrive in moments of adversity and often score goals against the run of play, there’s still method behind the chaos.

Ancelotti’s use of a 4-4-2 diamond has allowed plenty of rotation at the top end of the field. These are usually curved towards the left side.

In the Champions League this season, 42 percent of Madrid’s attacking touches have gone down the left third of the pitch, where Vinicius Jr. and Rodrigo have taken it in turns to torment the opposition throughout.

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They also opened up a whole new world for Jude Bellingham.

The €103million (£80m; $111m) summer signing – he joined from Dortmund and that initial fee could rise to a club record with variables – has reduced his scoring of late, but still none of his team-mates have scored more (with 23, he is level with Vinicius Jr in all competitions). is present).

We don’t need to tell you to keep an eye on Bellingham. The 20-year-old’s transfer market value was recently estimated at a world-leading €280 million by Swiss research group CIES Football Observatory. But you might not be as familiar with him as our La Liga writers, who recently shared what he learned from his first season.

Ahead of this firepower, Endric has already signed and Kylian Mbappe is expected to join him…

Responsible managers

Let’s mention Carlo Ancelotti first. When he leads Madrid to Wembley to face Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, it will be his sixth Champions League final as manager and his 1,324th appearance in the dugout throughout his career.

He already holds the record for winning the most Champions League trophies as a manager (four). It was his 204th in charge of the tournament – another record.

And yet, despite all this, as Dermot Corrigan recently wrote , there is a feeling that the 64-year-old is not really a great coach. Does he get his due credit?

Dortmund boss Edin Terzic, 41, was born in the local region to a Bosnian father and Croatian mother who came and settled as ‘castarpeters’ (guest workers). He grew up a Dortmund fan and it was the only team he managed in a senior capacity.

A year ago, he cried in front of fans in the team’s Yellow Wall block Just A chance to win the league title was lost. This season, he came close to losing the job twice. He faced opposition from his own supporters and, at different times, from two of his senior players.

But Dortmund have still beaten teams they never expected en route to tonight’s meeting with Madrid.

Road to the Finals

New La Liga champions Madrid qualified for the knockout round ahead of Napoli, SC Braga and Union Berlin. Fifth in Germany’s top flight, Dortmund came through the ‘Group of Death’, finishing above PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle.

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In the last 16, Madrid defeated RB Leipzig 2-1, while Dortmund beat PSV Eindhoven with a 3-1 aggregate victory. Then the path to the finals was set.

Dortmund will be the nominal ‘home’ team at Wembley and will play in their usual yellow and black kit. Madrid with their famous all white team.

How to see

According to UEFA, the game will be shown in more than 200 territories and reach 450 million people worldwide, with an estimated global average audience of around 145m.

The final will be broadcast in the US on CBS/Paramount+. TNT Sports’ deal with UEFA means the broadcaster will be able to watch the Champions League final for free in England.

Goodbye and Adios

Let’s say goodbye – or see you later – with a final word on the two departing club legends.

Toni Kroos will play his last game for Real Madrid in Saturday’s showpiece, ending 10 remarkable years at the club, always living on his terms. He is still going strong but has decided to retire from football after playing for Germany at the 2024 European Championships this summer.

Kroos, 34, is one of four Madrid players (along with Nacho, Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal) who can win a joint-record sixth Champions League medal.

That would put them level with Paco Gento. None more so than the former Madrid winger, who died in 2022 aged 88. He was a key part of the side that claimed the first five editions of the competition (when it was the European Cup) from 1956-1960, adding another in 1966. .

Like Kroos, Marco Reus will bow out at Wembley. The 35-year-old Dortmund legend scored a free kick in his final home match earlier this month, his 170th goal for the club in 12 years.

Reus played in Bayer’s final defeat in 2013, which was Kroos’ first taste of success in the tournament.

Finally winning the club game’s biggest prize will be some send-off before he heads to MLS.

(Top photo: Brendan Moran – Sportsfile/UEFA via Getty Images)

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