On Saturday evening, it will be revealed whether Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid will be crowned this year’s Champions League winners. Source: Imago Images
On Saturday evening, it will be revealed whether Borussia Dortmund or Real Madrid will be crowned this year’s Champions League winners. Source: Imago Images

Either Real confirms its immortality or the football world gets another fairy tale

Champions League OlyBet 30.05.2024

Ahead of this year’s Champions League final, the football public is divided into two camps. All Real Madrid supporters will of course keep their fingers crossed for Real Madrid, the rest of the football public – and this is no journalistic exaggeration here! – to Borussia Dortmund who is stepping into the game as an outsider.

The final at the prestigious Wembley is indeed a battle between David and Goliath. On paper, there is no nuance – budget, level and selection of players, this season or current shape – that could favor Dortmund in this duel.

However, things were the same in 1997, when Dortmund last shocked the European crowd, defeating Manchester United in the semi-finals of the Champions League with ricochet goals, and then Turin’s Juventus in the final as well.

Dortmund as a killer of the giants

Jumping from the past to the present, Die Schwarzgelben – Dortmund are called black and yellow because of their colors – have been a proper giant killer this season as well.

As luck would have it, they were drawn into a real group of death in the Champions League, but the Germans dully left giants like Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Newcastle United behind.

In the round of 16, the goddess of the draw then decided to show them some mercy, bringing them against PSV Eindhoven, who they beat 3-1 on aggregate, but then it got tough again.

Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals, Paris Saint-Germain again in the semi-finals. However, with strength and willpower and dutifully bringing candles to the church – in the semi-final against PSG alone, their goalposts rattled six times – the men of Dortmund still pulled through thick and thin, to the final match.

Considering that in the Bundesliga, the men under Edin Terzic’s care could only finish fifth, and in the cup series they fell completely out of competition in the third round, it is worth considering reaching the final in the Champions League as a minor miracle indeed.

The only good thing is that, in the wind of their good Euro performances, they managed to secure Germany the fifth place in the Champions League for the coming season, which, as it turns out, will fall into their laps. In other words, Dortmund will be seen in the highest European level competition next year regardless of the result.

Real chasing the 14th title

Similarly, next year’s Champions League will see Real Madrid, who were crowned domestic champions this year. The arch-rival FC Barcelona was overtaken there by ten points, which in the context of Spanish football means the calendar.

Real, who are chasing their 14th Champions League title, have been just as dominant in Europe: they were unbeaten in the group stage against Napoli, Braga and Union Berlin, scoring 16 goals in six wins.

They have had to work harder in the playoffs, but the context is important here: Leipzig RB, England’s dominant Manchester City and Germany’s giant Bayern Munich have still been defeated.

And Carlo Ancelotti’s guys have yet to feel the bitterness of defeat in the Champions League this year.

The outsider status suits Dortmund

So, it is easy to see why everyone considers Real as the favorite before the final. Also in the betting shops, their coefficient is only 1.3, while if Dortmund wins, the money would be returned with a 3.5 coefficient.

However, this suits Dortmund because, as their sport manager Sebastian Kehl said referring to the 1997 final, it is not the first time they have been in a situation like that. “It just gives us joy and gives us that extra motivation to leave everything on the field and play bravely – because we have nothing to lose when we face Real.”

Marco Reus, who ends his 12-year Dortmund career after this season, also agrees. “Real have played in five finals in the last ten years, so you know what kind of quality awaits you. You know their players are used to all this, so they might not be as excited as we are.

But of course, this is not what decides the fate of the game. At the end of the day, it’s still a football battle where absolutely anything can happen. We must believe in ourselves and believe us – that’s what we will do,” said Reus, who, along with Mats Hummels, is one of the two Dortmund men who reached the Champions League final with the club 11 years ago.

The question is, is it a good memory, because then too the final took place at Wembley, and Dortmund lost that match to Bayern Munich 2:1.

What did the head coaches say?

Dortmund coach Edin Terzić: “It’s almost surreal. I think we deserve to play in the final here. I know we are not favourites and the whole match will be extremely difficult, but we are still talking about a match in which anything is possible. We have already proven this many times this year.”

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti: “We’ve had a lot of problems this year, a lot of injuries, and I don’t just mean the guys who are out with long-term injuries. We also had periods where we didn’t have Vinicius, [Jude] Bellingham and others, but because we’ve won, we haven’t talked about those periods. It just shows that we have a great team full of great players.”

Who to watch in the final?

Although in terms of names, the loudest man in Dortmund is undoubtedly Jadon Sancho, in reality, the team’s key players are completely different. In the midfield, all the personnel are dutifully kept together by Emre Can and Marcel Sabitzer, who are responsible for the defensive side, and Julian Brandt, who is their number 10.

In terms of goals, this year they have mainly relied on center forward Niclas Füllkrug and winger Donyell Malen, who both have 15 hits, but Marco Reus (9 goals) and the already mentioned Brandt (10 goals) can also make a splash when needed.

In the case of Real, the machinery is the same, because it is oiled by veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos and younger Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga in the midfield. In the attacking phase, however, the trio of Jude Bellingham (23 goals), Vinicius (23 goals) and Rodrygo (17 goals) shines brightly. One of the fiercest legends of Spanish football, 34-year-old Joselu (17 goals) offers some change for them.

The opening whistle of the Champions League final in London will sound on Saturday at 10 p.m. Estonian time. Two and a half hours later, at the latest, it will be known whether Dortmund or Real fans will be cheering.


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