How underdog Borussia Dortmund reached the Champions League final while finishing fifth in the Bundesliga

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Happy Remembrance Day! After several teams won some novelties this weekend, the European season is coming to an end and all eyes are quickly turning to the final: Saturday’s Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. I’m Pardeep Cat, trying to kick things off for a big week with a look at the latest.

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⚽ The forward line

🏆 Happy Champions League final week

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Final preparations are officially underway for Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, which will see Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid take to the pitch at London’s Wembley Stadium to be crowned champions of Europe. This is the eighth time Wembley has hosted the showcase, but it’s not only familiar ground for the Champions League trophy – it was also the venue of Dortmund’s last appearance in the final in 2013, when they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich .

They were underdogs 11 years ago and will be again on Saturday, but the differences between the two finalists feel much greater this time. Bayern may have won the Bundesliga that year, but to do so they had to win a two-year series of titles against Dortmund, who were then led by Jurgen Klopp. This season, Dortmund finished fifth in the Bundesliga and will face a Real Madrid team that has cruised to victory in La Liga and surpassed virtually every team that stands in their way in Europe.

However, Dortmund are fully chasing a redemption arc after their latest disappointment at Wembley and have spent the entire Champions League season proving they have what it takes. Topping a group containing Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Newcastle United was the first sign of their true mettle, while the ability to recover from a first-leg deficit in their quarter-final victory over Atletico Madrid and their tactical superiority in the semi-finals over PSG was strengthened. It. Dortmund have quietly shown an impressive ability to compete at Europe’s top levels this summer, and will travel to London with a handful of players ready to do damage.

The team’s attack was the strength during this run to the final and almost resembled Real Madrid’s ability to overcome their defensive shortcomings by outplaying the opposition. Marcel Sabitzer played a key role with five assists to lead the Champions League in that category, while Julian Brandt is in the top five with 24 chances created, while also recording 11 assists in the Bundesliga this season. The addition of Jadon Sancho, on loan from Manchester United this winter, has also helped considerably, completing 12 games in Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg of the semi-finals, becoming the first Englishman to do so to do in a Champions League match.

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That’s good news against Real Madrid, who are scoring an average of 1.22 goals per game in the Champions League this season, but the German team will have to be at their best to take advantage of the opponent’s somewhat porous defense. Dortmund are in the middle of the pack in terms of goals per match (1.42), expected goals per match (1.27) and shots per match (13.17) in the Champions League this season, but as their unlikely run proves, there is no reason to count them down yet.

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🔴🔵 Barcelona wins back-to-back UWCL titles

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As the countdown continues to the men’s final, Barcelona won their second UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Bilbao on Saturday, beating Lyon 2-0 in a match that feels like a turning point for women’s football in Europe.

Barcelona outwitted Lyon but both teams had their chances, with each scoring 14 shots over the course of the 90 minutes. However, the back-to-back champions proved to be more clinical, putting five shots on target to Lyon’s two and ultimately scoring the only goals of the match. Aitana Bonmati extended her reputation as the world’s best player by scoring the opening goal in the 63rd minute, while Alexia Putellas sealed the deal in the fifth minute of stoppage time, a fine reward after a season of struggle after undergoing knee surgery in December had undergone.

The Champions League victory allowed Barcelona to complete the quadruple after winning the domestic league, cup and Super Cup and also served as a fitting farewell for manager Jonatan Giraldez, who will now move to the NWSL to join the third place Washington Spirit to join. The final also marked the first time Barcelona defeated Lyon, which was the gold standard in women’s football in Europe with eight Champions League titles. Lucy Bronze, who was part of Barcelona’s back-to-back victories and won three other Champions League titles with Lyon, was perhaps the perfect person to consider the change of tide.

  • Bronze: “We knew we had to be a club that made history. It’s not easy, it’s hard to win it once, but to do it back to back, Lyon showed how difficult it is. This team finally has that We will go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe.”

Although Barcelona’s squad includes top talent from outside Spain, such as England’s Bronze and Keira Walsh and Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen, the core of the group is made up of local talent who have quickly risen to the top of women’s football. Bonmati and Putellas were part of the Spanish team that won the Women’s World Cup last year and are undoubtedly the favorites to win the gold medal at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. The dominance of Spain and Barcelona goes hand in hand and shows no signs of slowing down.

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🔗 Top stories

���� United win FA Cup: Manchester United’s youth led the way in their FA Cup victory over Manchester City, ensuring the hint of a silver lining in a turbulent season. However, questions still remain over Erik ten Hag’s future after news emerged the day before the final that United have already decided to sack him.

City’s season at a glance: Manchester City may have won a fourth consecutive Premier League title this season, but after lifting just one trophy this campaign, it’s worth asking: was their season a success?

🇩🇪 Leverkusen does double: Bayer Leverkusen defeated Kaiserslautern 1-0 in the DFB Pokal final, remain undefeated in their domestic season to win the double. Granit Xhaka scored the only goal of the match to cap a season in which he exceeded expectations.

🔴 Southampton promoted: Southampton defeated Leeds United 1-0 in the final of the championship promotion play-offs on Sunday to return to the Premier League after one season in the second division.

🔮 Mbappe’s future: After winning the French Cup with Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian MBappe said he will announce his new clubs “in a few days”.

🔴🟠 Roma misses: Roma lost 2-1 to Empoli on the final day of the Serie A season miss out on a place in next season’s Champions League in the process.

💰 Real Madrid’s riches: Real Madrid took the top spot on Forbes list of the world’s most valuable football clubs, overtaking Manchester United for the honor.

🇺🇸🇮🇹 USMNT players in Italy: Here’s a look back at how several USMNT players performed in Serie A this season, which was full of success for Christian Pulisic and not exactly a no-brainer for Yunus Musah.

💰The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • UEFA Champions League Final: Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid, Saturday, 3 p.m
    💰 THE CHOICE: Sebastien Haller scores (+300)
    — A hallmark of Dortmund’s attack this season is that goal-scoring responsibilities are spread across the group, with no one having scored more than three goals in the Champions League season so far. That doesn’t mean several players haven’t delivered in key moments, and that includes Sebastien Haller, whose only goal in Europe so far this season came in Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the quarter-finals. It provided the basis for their 4-2 comeback at home in the second leg and means he goes into the final with the best chances of any Dortmund player to score at Wembley.
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