Champions League final: Real Madrid seals 15th European Cup after 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund

Real Madrid may stand in the way of a Dortmund fairytale in the Champions League final

LONDON: Borussia Dortmund face a test after their fairytale run to Saturday’s Champions League final as star-studded Real Madrid come to Wembley looking to be crowned European champions for the 15th time.

No club can come close to matching the Spanish giants’ success in the competition and they are heavy favorites against a Dortmund side who beat the odds just to get to London.

Madrid’s habit of somehow getting over the line in the Champions League when it matters was evident in their march to the final.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men withstood a barrage from defending champions Manchester City to win the quarter-final on penalties before another legendary late fightback at the Santiago Bernabeu to see off Bayern Munich in the last four.

The Spanish champions travel to the English capital with rightful confidence, as they want to conclude an unforgettable season.

Madrid lost just twice in 54 games in all competitions, clinching the La Liga title by 10 points and beating Barcelona 4-1 to win the Spanish Super Cup.

“I came because I wanted to win and expected it,” said Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham, who left Dortmund for the Spanish capital 12 months ago.

“He’s almost a bit greedy, but you have to be confident when you’re playing with so many great players.”

Bellingham’s career path shows the scale of the task ahead of Dortmund.

Plucked from Championship side Birmingham as a teenager, he was groomed and developed by the German giants before being snapped up by Madrid for a transfer fee in excess of 100 million euros ($109 million).

Without him, Dortmund have struggled at home this season, finishing fifth in the Bundesliga, 27 points behind Bayer Leverkusen.

Even so, Edin Terzic’s men saved their best for the Champions League stage, reaching the final for the third time in the club’s history and the first time since losing at Wembley to Bayern Munich 11 years ago.

Dortmund topped the Group of Death, which includes Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Newcastle.

PSV Eindhoven and Atletico Madrid were then dispatched before heroic defending kept PSG out of two legs in the semi-finals.

“They have built their season around playing in the Champions League,” added Bellingham.

“They played incredibly, character and mentality, which they showed in many matches. They also had a tough run to the final and you have to respect that.”

As impressive as it was to keep Real’s Kylian Mbappe in the last four, Dortmund know they must go to another level if Madrid are to lose a European final for the first time since 1983.

“Our goal was not to reach the final, our goal is to win the Champions League,” said Dortmund fan turned coach Terzić.

“And if you want to win the Champions League, you have to beat the champions. Now we are waiting for the absolute champion in the history of football and especially in this competition. The final boss.”

Madrid’s rich Champions League tradition means that many personal feats are also at stake on Saturday.

Ancelotti can extend his record as the only coach to win the European Cup four times.

Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos could match Madrid legend Paco Gent as the only player to win the competition six times as a player in the final club game of his career.

UEFA will be hoping to focus on the on-pitch protagonists coming full-time to ensure their decision to return to Wembley for the grand final is not in doubt.

Three years ago, the Euro 2020 final was marred by violence as fans without tickets stormed the stadium gates to enter.

UEFA was also forced to apologize to Liverpool fans for staging the 2022 Champions League final in Paris, which an independent audit found “nearly led to disaster”.

England’s Football Association (FA) has invested 5 million pounds ($6 million) in improving security and infrastructure at Wembley, which is also set to host the Euro 2028 final.

“We never anticipated events like this for the Euro finals and I’m not sure we will again, but we have learned our lesson and have put additional measures in place,” FA director of tournaments and events Chris Bryant said.

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