Champions League Final Corners: Will big favorites Real Madrid stop Borussia Dortmund?

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The David versus Goliath angle is used far too often in sports, but sometimes it kicks you in the face and you can’t ignore it. This year’s Champions League final is one of those times.

In one corner we have Real Madrid, possibly the most successful football club in the history of the planet. Real Madrid won La Liga for the 36th time this season and will now try to win the Champions League for the 15th time. No other club has won more than seven (AC Milan). Hell, Real Madrid do lost more Champions League finals (three) than all but seven other clubs have won in the competition’s history.

In the other corner Borussia Dortmund. The David analogy isn’t perfect for Dortmund, because it’s not like this is a small club with no history. Dortmund won the Champions League in 1997 and lost a Champions League final to Bayern Munich in 2013. That said, Dortmund have not won the Bundesliga since 2012 and finished fifth in the league this season.

So it’s the biggest club in the history of the world against the fifth-place team in Germany. It’s a wild game that no one would have predicted at the start of the competition, but I don’t want to downplay Dortmund’s performance. Despite all their problems at home, Dortmund moved out of the “Group of Death” in group play, winning Group F against PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle United. It then passed AtlĂ©tico Madrid and PSG again in the knockout stages. It’s not a coincidence here, but can it accomplish the unthinkable?

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Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund

Date: Saturday June 1 | Time: 3:00 PM ET | Watch: CBS/Paramount+

Moneyline: I’ll start with the disclaimer that this bet is for 90 minutes. You can be sure that Real Madrid will win, including extra time and possible penalties, but the pressure is much heavier and I don’t think we will need the extra time. As I’ve already written, Dortmund weren’t expected to be here, and while they deserved their place, they were also quite lucky.

In the semi-finals, Dortmund did not allow a goal to PSG, despite PSG conceding eight shots on target for a total xG (expected goals) of 4.7. PSG hit the post four times in the second leg.

Relying on that same luck against Real Madrid probably won’t work. Although Dortmund did as much of a job of restricting Kylian MbappĂ© in the semi-finals as anyone could wish for, almost everything PSG does on the attack goes through MbappĂ©. Madrid are not nearly as limited in their options. If you remove Madrid’s version of Mbappe in Vinicius Jr, they still have Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo, Toni Kroos (who is playing in his last game by the way) and more. That’s the great thing about Real Madrid. They don’t have to play a certain way because the team is filled with players who can beat you in multiple ways. That’s why they’ve only lost two games all season, and both were against AtlĂ©tico Madrid. The Choice: Real Madrid (-160)

Total: Real Madrid’s defensive numbers haven’t been great in their last four games; Even though they kept three clean sheets, the figures lack any context. All four matches were played after Madrid advanced past Bayern Munich to the Champions League final and clinched the La Liga title. They were mostly on cruise control. However, Madrid have allowed at least one goal in their last five Champions League matches and in nine of the twelve matches they have played in total. Dortmund have played 49 games this season and scored at least once in 42 games. Just because I don’t think Dortmund will win doesn’t mean I don’t think they will score. The choice: over 2.5 (-135)

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Prop: As I said, Dortmund did a great job limiting Kylian Mbappe in the semi-finals, and I see them taking a similar approach to Vinicius Jr. from Madrid. Both players have similar traits, but there is one important difference between them.

Kylian Mbappé wants to be seen as the best player in the world, and he can be. However, Mbappé is not what I consider a team player on the biggest stages. In the league match, Mbappe was second on the team with seven assists, but in twelve Champions League matches he had none.

This season, Vinicius’ nine assists are second only to Jude Bellingham, and he has four assists in the Champions League this season. It’s not hard to imagine Vini using his speed to reach the touchline and firing a cross towards the front of the penalty area, where one of his teammates could place the ball. The choice: Vinicius Jr. to record an assist (+330)

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General 68-85 -18.91

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