The stories of the UCL Final: Everything you need to know

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An entire season of European football played and it all comes down to this: Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final

Saturday’s clash at Wembley Stadium in London might not be the matchup most fans were expecting at the start of the season, but both teams have rightfully earned their place in the final. 

Real Madrid saw off an eager RB Leipzig side quite comfortably in the round of 16, before going head to head with defending champions Manchester City in a brilliant and tightly-contested quarter final fixture that finally needed a penalty shootout to declare a winner. The Spanish giants then faced Bayern Munich in the semi final, where they were pushed to the brink and staged a stunning last-minute comeback, courtesy of two unlikely goals from veteran striker Joselu, to reach their 18th final.

Borussia Dortmund breezed past PSV Eindhoven quite easily in the round of 16, before staging a spectacular comeback of their own against Atlético Madrid in an incredibly high-scoring quarter final matchup. Dortmund, led admirably by Mats Hummels, then put on a defensive masterclass in the semi final; a clinic in tight marking and low-block defending against a desperate Paris Saint-Germain side that eventually saw the German outfit through to their third ever Champions League final.

PSG v Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Semi-final

The Key Questions

Can Madrid’s forwards push the Dortmund defense?
It’s no secret that one of the many keys to Real Madrid’s success is the quality of their forwards, particularly since Vinícius Junior and Jude Bellingham have been in scintillating form this season. Both players have been crucial in Real Madrid’s road to the final and will have their task cut out for them against one of the best defenses in Europe. One of Dortmund’s biggest strengths has been their stability at the back, courtesy of goalkeeper Gregor Kobel and center backs Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck. They have kept the most clean sheets out of any team in the tournament and have conceded only nine goals at an average of 0.75 per match. Their aggressive press begins right at the top with their forwards, so Madrid’s dynamic attack will likely be tested yet again.

Can Dortmund’s wingers cause problems for Madrid’s fullbacks?
Wingers Jadon Sancho and Karim Adeyemi have been crucial components to Dortmund’s attacking style of play this season, and given how Real Madrid fullbacks Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy tend to drift forward during attack, there could be plenty of open space left in behind. If Edin Terzić can set up his forwards to probe at this defense the way they have done throughout the tournament, expect Carvajal and Mendy to have their hands full.

Who starts in goal for Madrid?
The biggest burning question in Madrid in the lead up to the game was who would start between the posts. Thibaut Courtois recently made his return from an cruciate ligament injury that kept him sidelined for almost the entire season, while his deputy Andriy Lunin has done a stellar job in his absence. Although this was up for debate throughout the week, manager Carlo Ancelotti recently confirmed that it will be Courtois who starts as Lunin did not train prior to the final due to a fever. Courtois returned to action in early May and looks to have scraped off most of his rust, which may not bode well for the Dortmund attack.

The Storylines

Jude Bellingham’s Dream
Jude Bellingham has had a magnificent start to his Real Madrid career with his first La Liga and Supercopa titles already secured. Bellingham’s dream start in Spain now has the potential to get a dream ending this season: a Champions League final in his national team stadium against his former club. Does it get better than that? Bellingham faces Dortmund for the first time after spending three seasons with them and will be going up against many of his former teammates in a stadium that he has played at a number of times with the England national team. He is Real Madrid’s top scorer so far and has the chance to cap off his debut season in the best possible way, all in front of his home fans.

A German Farewell
Regardless of the result, this will be a match of goodbyes. German international and Real Madrid icon Toni Kroos has announced his retirement from professional football after this summer’s European Championship, meaning that this match will be his last ever for Real Madrid. Kroos joined the club in 2014 and has been an undeniably instrumental part of their success ever since, winning 22 trophies in total, including four Champions League titles. Similarly, fellow German international and Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus has announced that he will be leaving the club this summer, putting an end to a wonderful 12 year stay that has seen him become something of a cult figure at the club. Reus has not announced his retirement, but he has been the backbone of this Dortmund side for many years and will surely be missed.



Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have previously met 14 times in European cup competitions, with Los Blancos having a favorable record of six wins compared to Dortmund’s three. They most recently met in the 2017/18 season, where Real Madrid won both group stage matches. Before that, these two sides met in the 2013/14 season quarter final, where Real Madrid were again triumphant with an aggregate score of 3-2. Both teams are coming into the final filled with confidence. Real Madrid from their recent league win and Dortmund from their excellent shutdown of PSG in the semi final. Regardless of who ends up on the winning side, Saturday’s final will prove to be an exciting, exhilarating and altogether emotional matchup between two quite excellent football teams.