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The Superbru Herald - Superbru News

Preview: 2024 Champions League Final

As they so often do, the Champions League knockouts have delivered incredible entertainment once again this season, and we're left with an intriguing final featuring one team that so often plays on this stage and another that does so far less regularly.

14-time champions Real Madrid face a Borussia Dortmund side looking for a second European Cup. Squad quality, form and, perhaps most significantly, sheer Champions League heritage all suggest that Real Madrid are the likely winners, but here are a few factors to consider when making your Superbru prediction for this huge game.



Club legends say goodbye

It often feels as if Champions League games are decided by narrative and emotion, and there's no shortage of either in this final. Dortmund legend Marco Reus will be leaving the club this summer after making 428 appearances (likely 429 after this weekend), while this will be the final club game that Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos ever plays as he's announced that he will be retiring from football after Euro 2024.

It's not hard to picture one of Reus or Kroos deciding this final as they bow out. Based on performances in this knockout stage so far, Reus is likely to impact the game as a substitute since Jadon Sancho, Julian Brandt and Karim Adeyemi have been favoured as the attacking support for centre forward Niclas Fullkrug.

Kroos has started every single one of Madrid's knockout matches thus far and will likely be joined by Eduardo Camavinga in midfield as well as Jude Bellingham and Federico Valverde as French international Aurelien Tchouameni is sidelined with injury.

Kroos is searching for a remarkable fifth Champions League title with Madrid in the final game of his club career. Reus is aiming for a first ever Champions League win having started in the 2013 final which Dortmund lost 1-2 to Bayern Munich (also at Wembley).

Madrid eyeing further history

A fifth Champions League title with Madrid and sixth overall would indeed be an incredible achievement for Toni Kroos, and a few of his teammates have also already reached that milestone and could equal history with another triumph here.

Real Madrid great Paco Gento is the only man in history with 6 European Cup wins to his name having been a part of the dominant Madrid side of the 50s and 60s, but Luka Modric, Nacho and Dani Carvajal could join him this weekend as they each already have five to their name.

Of course, these stats are in relation to winning the European Cup as a player. In terms of managers with the most European Cup wins, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti already stands ahead of the rest with 4 which is 1 more than Bob Paisley, Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola.

Ancelotti won this competition twice as a player with Milan before also winning it twice as a manager with the Rossoneri, so a third trophy lift as Real Madrid manager this Saturday would extend the impressive record he already holds.

A modern final to be decided by 'throwback' strikers?

Finally, from a more tactical perspective, there's an interesting similarity between how these teams got to this stage in terms of the profile of their centre forwards who each scored vital goals. At the start of the season, you'd never have expected Niclas Fullkrug (31) and Joselu (34), widely considered to be old school 'target men', to be the players coming up with the decisive goals that have earned a place in the Champions League final, yet here we are and there's a chance they could now be the difference at Wembley too.

Fullkrug has made himself very useful in his debut season for Dortmund with 12 goals and 8 assists in the Bundesliga, but his performances at the sharp end of this Champions League campaign have been invaluable as he's followed up the goal and assist he managed in the quarter-final second leg vs. Atletico Madrid with two excellent performances in the semis against Paris Saint-Germain.

We will almost certainly see Fullkrug lead the line for Dortmund in this final, and it will be fascinating to see him battle with international teammate Antonio Rudiger considering the German defender's physical attributes make him better equipped than most to cope with Fullkrug's power. Edin Terzic has done a great job of blending Fullkrug's more 'throwback' attributes into Dortmund's slick attacking style and the striker himself has shown he's far more than just a target man ahead of a home Euros with Germany that he may well also be a significant part of.



Joselu, on the other hand, is more likely to have a say on this game as a substitute if required, just as he did in miraculous fashion in the semi-final second leg vs. Bayern. Joselu's story is already a remarkable one, as having initially been on Madrid's books more than a decade ago before going on to appear for another 8 different clubs around Europe, his return to the club he supports this season has already blessed him with a fairytale moment in that semi-final.

Introduced after 81 minutes by Ancelotti with Madrid 0-1 down on the night, Joselu scored 88th and 91st minute goals to take his team to the final on yet another incredible Champions League night at the Bernabeu.

This is supposed to be a 'transition year' for Madrid following Karim Benzema's departure with Joselu essentially signed as a stopgap while the club waits for Kylian Mbappe to join them next season, yet they've strolled to the LaLiga title and are now on the verge of an incredible 15th European Cup win.



If Real Madrid do manage the victory on Saturday night, there's no shortage of players that would be fitting scorers of the winning goal. As mentioned, Toni Kroos is playing his final club game, Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal are chasing history, Vinicius Jr is on for the Ballon d'Or, and Jude Bellingham is playing in his home country against his former club after a truly incredible first season with Los Blancos.

Yet many forget that this is supposedly a season in which Real Madrid were essentially looking to just get through before they start to assert real dominance with the arrival of Mbappe next year. The prestige and aura that they carry in this competition has taken them to an 18th final, and if they end up getting over the line in this so-called transition season, who better to get them over the line than the man who perhaps represents that 'transition' tag best?

Predictions

Personally, I'm struggling to see anything other than a Real Madrid win, though I think and hope it will be close since it's a final! Dortmund are going to need another huge performance from their defenders (Mats Hummels has been immense in this European campaign) but I think the 14-time winners will have too much and I think I'll be going 0-2.

Feel free to drop your own predictions in the comments!
765 caps
0-1 real
Belligham
30 May 10:40
8,437 caps
REAL 3-1. Hope it's not another 1-0 scoreline, as has happened in the last 4 finals
30 May 12:00
765 caps
Who acores.
30 May 13:26
0 caps
It gonna be real m winning 2-1
30 May 14:32
85,289 caps
Hoping for a Dortmund win....
30 May 15:41
Dortmund 3-2
30 May 18:56
Fullkrug 2 goals
30 May 18:57
765 caps
Everyone pray for a fortmund win
We need this for marco reus
30 May 18:59
21,053 caps
Who dares wins.
31 May 03:38
49,208 caps
Ancelotti is the difference - Real should win quite comfortably. What a result for Sancho if Dortmund win, considering how his season was going at Utd.
31 May 07:31
765 caps
Its the end of a great season. What has been your favourite moment of this season
31 May 08:22
5,907 caps
borussia dortmund 1, real madrid 0.
1 Jun 17:10
6,041 caps
Penalties
1 Jun 19:57
1,065 cap
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