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Real Madrid win record 15th Champions League, defeat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in final at Wembley

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Real Madrid have conquered Europe for the 15th time, winning the UEFA Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the final. While the German club looked like the sharper side for the first hour or so, Los Blancos did what they do best -- win the UCL with late magic. Sixteen minutes from time, Dani Carvajal, Real's shortest player, headed home the winning goal at the front post on a corner kick. Not even 10 minutes later, former Dortmund man, Jude Bellingham, made his previous team pay, scooping up a loose ball before setting up Vinicius Jr. for the second goal, slamming the door shut as Real won it for the sixth time since 2013-14.

It was the first Champions League goal in nine years for Carvajal, but there were signs that it was coming which Dortmund didn't heed. After a strong first half from Dortmund, Real Madrid tightened things up in the second half as Kroos' corner kick deliveries were challenging the Dortmund defense. Dortmund left the right back open yet again to score the opening goal as Real Madrid's old guard set things up. 

The future would take the reigns from there with Bellingham finding an open Vini Jr. in space to close the door on Dortmund. Being involved in a goal in his home country against his former team is quite the end to an excellent debut season for Bellingham at Real Madrid. Now, with Kroos riding off into the sunset, the young Englishman will be the future of this midfield while Vini Jr. is growing into an unstoppable force in attack.

Dortmund had their chances in the first half with Niclas Fullkrug hitting the post and Karim Adeyemi missing a one on one chance, but that's where one of Carlo Ancelotti's biggest calls of the match proved to be the correct one. Despite Andriy Lunin getting Real Madrid to the final, Ancelotti opted to start a now-healthy Thibaut Courtois in the final, and the Belgian shined. Making three saves in the match, his positioning was key in shepherding Dortmund's attackers out of good positions while Madrid's defense struggled in the first half.

But Madrid found their footing, and ensured that a final wouldn't slip through their fingertips while Dortmund suffered from poor execution. Sometimes it's simple that the team who has been here before acts like it and that's just what Real Madrid did, which is why they now have secured eight Champions League titles since 2000

This is their trophy until proven otherwise.

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Borussia Dortmund 0, Real Madrid 2 (FT)

June 1, 2024, 7:02 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:02 pm EDT
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It's number 15 for Real Madrid

Dani Carvajal nets his first Champions League goal in nine years and Toni Kroos had an assist from a corner to ride off into retirement on top of the soccer world. Jude Bellingham assisted Vini Jr for the second goal to clinch the title as Real Madrid have now secured their eighth Champions League title since 2000. Dortmund had their chances but you have to take them better against Los Blancos.

June 1, 2024, 9:03 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 5:03 pm EDT
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There's the clincher

Vini Jr has scored Real Madrid's second goal and it feels like game over for Borussia Dortmund.

June 1, 2024, 8:46 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:46 pm EDT
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The Madrid fans are alive

Even though the 14 time champions had improved things a little in the second half you could tell that their supporters were really starting to get a little bit antsy as we moved beyond the hour mark. The chances were coming their way but Dortmund's too and fairly basic holes in the side had not been addressed. With that one corner the mood is totally changed. The Madrid faithful are hammering the roof above us, on their feet for every kick, totally convinced that this is their year yet again.

June 1, 2024, 8:42 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:42 pm EDT
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Kroos to Carvajal!!!!

The corners have been Dortmund's undoing in this match and could this be a storybook ending for Kroos as he rides into retirement. Real Madrid are now ahead.

June 1, 2024, 8:36 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:36 pm EDT
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Reus enters

In his final game for Dortmund Reus enters for Adeyemi who has had a great game but Dortmund needs an attacking change in the clash. 

June 1, 2024, 8:35 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:35 pm EDT
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Rodrygo draws a corner

It's another chance for Kroos to deliver a corner which Real Madrid got another head to. This game needs Luka Modric to stabilize the midfield but it's tough to see when changes will happen. 

June 1, 2024, 8:30 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:30 pm EDT
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Real Madrid's first shot on target

It's Tony Kroos with the chance from a free kick and then Carvajal had a chance from a corner kick as Real Madrid are having their first chances of the game.

June 1, 2024, 8:13 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:13 pm EDT
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Arrests at Wembley over pitch invasion

You will doubtless remember the delay to the first half when four individuals ran onto the pitch, looking to get seflies with the Real Madrid players. We now have confirmation that arrests have been made.

"It is illegal to enter the field of play at Wembley Stadium, and we strongly condemn the actions of those who interrupted the UEFA Champions League Final shortly after kick-off," said a statement from the stadium. "All of the individuals have now been arrested. We will support the relevant authorities to ensure appropriate action is taken."

June 1, 2024, 8:09 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 4:09 pm EDT
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We've reached the half

Adjustments are needed but it feels like a win for Real Madrid to get to the half level. Something needs to be done to get the attack back into things but Dortmund should be ahead given the chances that they've had. We're in for quite the finish at Wembley. 

June 1, 2024, 7:57 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:57 pm EDT
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Something isn't clicking for Madrid

That really hasn't gone the way Ancelotti would have imagined. We could talk until the cows come home about Madrid's vulnerabilities to the ball in behind but that simply isn't being counterbalanced by an attack that is asking questions of Dortmund. Too much of the play is going through Carvajal and Mendy, who BVB seem intent on forcing to be part of the attacking five. Adeyemi and Sancho are doing a particularly excellent job of robbing the full backs of the passes infield to Camavinga, Valverde and Bellingham. 


On the left Vinicius is at least pulling wide -- he gets double teamed when he does -- but on the other side Rodrygo is really offering very little for his 12 touches, functioning as something like a poaching number nine with no space to get into. It is really amounting to very little threat from the 14 time champions.

June 1, 2024, 7:52 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:52 pm EDT
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Ancelotti made the right choice in net

It was a tough decision to bench Andriy Lunin who got Los Blancos here but as Courtois has made his third save of the game in only the first half of the game it shows why the Belgian is here. Dortmund's xG has now climbed to 1.57 in only 40 minutes.

June 1, 2024, 7:46 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:46 pm EDT
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The stats are staggering 

30 mintues in Dortmund have already produced an xG of 1.54 from seven shots in the match. While only two have found the target, Fullkrug hitting the post was a massive chance. Real Madrid's shape has been poor in the early going of the match as they just need to get to the half. 

June 1, 2024, 7:35 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:35 pm EDT
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Adeyemi is a man posessed

Brandt slips him through and he fired another shot on target early in the match as it's Real Madrid who are now on the back foot. Something needs to change quickly or there will be an opening goal coming for Dortmund.

June 1, 2024, 7:31 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:31 pm EDT
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Bellingham growing in stature

I last saw Bellingham here about three months ago-ish, time goes weird at this stage of the season and international breaks are a weird time. In those intervening months I swear he has been on those Super Mario mushrooms. A kid has become a man. I'm not just writing that due to jealousy at his body transformation, I should say. 

His physicality is having a palpable effect on how Madrid play this game. Dortmund's press is looking dangerous and it's forcing Madrid into the sort of hasty long balls that you wouldn't really back Vinicius or Rodrygo to do much with. Bellingham is another matter though. All Madrid need to do is punt it between the Dortmund lines (which will naturally get stretched a bit more when pressing) and Bellingham can win his duel and secure possession for them.

June 1, 2024, 7:28 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:28 pm EDT
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Again from Dortmund 

This time it's Adeyemi, who is one on one with Courtois and runs wide for a corner kick. Then Fullkrug strikes the post as it has been a start to forget for the Black and Yellow. Facing Madrid, that has to go in.

June 1, 2024, 7:25 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:25 pm EDT
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Danger from Dortmund 

Julian Brandt was in on goal but the flag was raised. It's a warning to Real Madrid as while Dortmund hasn't had many chances, if it was onside, that was a chance that would've troubled Courtois in net.

June 1, 2024, 7:21 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:21 pm EDT
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An early Vinicius Junior attack

The Brazillian had a chance on the dribble but Dortmund's defense was up for the challenge. In the early going, Madrid possessed Dortmund but they haven't caused much danger yet.

June 1, 2024, 7:09 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:09 pm EDT
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Talk about a false start

The much vaunted Wembley stewarding had made for a pretty relaxed experience on the way up Olympic Way this afternoon and certainly there was never any sense that we might be seeing a repeat of the chaotic scenes here just under three years ago at the Euro 2020 final. Still it takes only a few seconds of the actual game before those security arrangements buckle as first one man then three more hurtle onto the pitch, intent on getting selfies with the Real Madrid players. It takes a fair while for security staff (and Marcel Sabitzer) to subdue them and it's not far off the third minute before this game is really up and running.

June 1, 2024, 7:06 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 3:06 pm EDT
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The best player in the world

The question of who the best player in the world is up for debate in the post-Messi and Ronaldo era of the club game in Europe, and while many have Kylian Mbappe's name penciled in for that honor, Thierry Henry's pick is someone who will take to the pitch at Wembley today -- Vinicius Junior. He outlines his vote in the Brazilian's favor as pre-game coverage wraps up.

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Almost time to get going

Lenny Kravitz is performing in the lead up to the Champions League final and the teams are ready to get things rolling in less than 10 mintues.

June 1, 2024, 6:52 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 2:52 pm EDT
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A perfect moment for Klopp

Borussia Dortmund -- like a fair few clubs beyond the obvious one -- have a habit of singing You'll Never Walk Alone before kick off in their games. If that is going to hit anyone hard it's going to be the outgoing Liverpool manager (and former Dortmund boss) Jurgen Klopp, who is shown chanting along as loud as anyone. Not long to go and almost as soon as the black and yellow end is done chanting the cries of Hala Madrid go up across the Wembley field.

June 1, 2024, 6:47 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 2:47 pm EDT
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Ancelotti at ease

Carlo Ancelotti has been here and done that. He already has a record four Champions League titles to his name, no other coach can match that and his lead could become insurmountable if Madrid win tonight. 

In his pre-match press conference yesterday he spoke about still feeling the fear but it doesn't seem that it got to him this morning. Here's what he had to say to Spanish broadcaster Movistar:

"I had a great siesta this afternoon. Right now, I'm a lion.. the only problem is that I'm not playing!"

June 1, 2024, 6:40 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 2:40 pm EDT
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A farewell to legends

Wembley Stadium has hosted many iconic performers over the years and will add two more legends of the game to that list today, when Toni Kroos and Marco Reus play for their clubs one last time. Reus was named amongst the substitutes for his final game with Dortmund, which will end his 12 year stint with the club. His role has dwindled this season but he still posted nine goals and seven assists in 41 games this season, but the affection from the Dortmund faithful has not wavered. How could it? He's amongst the club's greats with 170 goals in 428 games, won two German cups and the Bundesliga's player of the season award twice during his spell. The one thing that's eluded him is major silverware in Dortmund -- he joined the club after their back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and was part of the team that finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the 2013 Champions League final.

Kroos, meanwhile, will retire this summer after a 10 year stay in Madrid that was full of silverware. He has already won the Champions League with Real Madrid four times and also has four La Liga titles, his reputation as one of his generation's best midfielders fully intact. That's especially true after this season's run, when the 34-year-old proved he still belonged amongst the game's top players as a maestro in midfield, posting a 95.1% passing accuracy in this season's Champions League.

He has no plans to change his mind, though -- but Guillem Balague had to try.

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Here come the Dortmund players

The warm ups begin for the team in black and yellow, their emergence onto the Wembley pitch for the first time bringing a deep cry of delight from the east end of the ground, which looks like it's already filled to bursting. The passing looks crisp enough in the build up but the one who really catches my eye is Kobel, the goalkeeper who has been so vital in Dortmund's run to the final. Obviously his coaches are hardly smacking balls at him full pelt but he looks so springy, so composed. He hasn't buckled under the pressure on Dortmund's road to the final. It doesn't look like he will today.

The Real Madrid warmups brought quite the hubub too.

June 1, 2024, 6:20 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 2:20 pm EDT
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A matchup to watch

Today's final is expected to be a test of Dortmund's ability to keep up with Real Madrid's attacking firepower, and nowhere is that more true than the right flank. Vinicius Junior has been as clinical as one can be this season with five goals and it will be up to Dortmund's Julian Ryerson and Karim Adeyami to not just keep pace, but perhaps keep him out entirely. Here's James Benge's breakdown of the big battle to keep an eye on.

  • Benge: "The Borussia Dortmund right flank might be forgiven for skipping over the tape from Real Madrid's semifinal win over Bayern Munich when the time comes to prepare for their forthcoming opponent. No one really needs to be shown how cruelly effective Vinicius can be when he gets the scent of weak prey. Real Madrid's No.7 has been in devastating form over recent months, saving his most decisive contributions for the biggest games with assists and goals in the triumphs over Manchester City and Bayern. Dortmund did a fine job of slowing but not stopping the advance of Paris Saint-Germain's wide forwards in the semifinals, but they will be tested once more come Saturday night."
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Sancho's redemption arc

Five months ago, Jadon Sancho's stock was trending downwards. The potential that was obvious when he signed for Manchester United in 2021 had yet to be realized, and he had spent months on the sideline after manager Erik ten Hag exiled him. He was in desperate need of a winter move and returned to his old club, Dortmund, in a deal that has been well worth it so far.

He's started each of their knockout matches en route to the final and notched an assist along the way, becoming the main conduit for Dortmund's attack on the wings. He also had one of his best games in recent memory in the semifinals, becoming the first Englishman -- and the first person since Lionel Messi -- to complete 12 take-ons in the first leg of their win over PSG, and with a Champions League winners' medal at stake in his home country, he will likely be crucial to Dortmund's success.

Here's teammate Emre Can on the optimism Sancho inspires at Dortmund.

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The Yellow Wall is forming

Lads, do you know the game is still the best part of an hour and a half away? Get to the bars! It seems that even the slightest movement by anyone is an inducement for those fans already in the Dortmund end to cheer. Can you imagine the cries that went up when Jurgen Klopp popped up on screen?

June 1, 2024, 5:35 PM
Jun. 01, 2024, 1:35 pm EDT
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Everyone plays a part

While the Real Madrid lineup is full of few surprises, there are also several storylines around the players who have notably picked up injuries this season. Thibaut Courtois' big return stands out amongst the rest but David Alaba is on the bench for the first time since undergoing surgery on an ACL injury in December. He might not end up playing today but the presence of important players can offer an intangible boost for those who are expected to be on the pitch, as well as those who will miss out.

That's the case for Aurelien Tchouameni, who will miss out on his first Champions League final with a stress injury in his left foot. Earlier this week, he told Guillem Balague about the role he's playing from the sidelines after an impressive season with the Spanish champions.

  • Tchouameni: "I'm going to be here for my teammates, help them to win this game and we have a good mindset coming up. For sure, we are going to play an incredible game. ... It was sad, but I feel like it's part of the game. It's part of my story and let's see what's going to happen but the most important thing is to win this game, no matter who we play. We got an incredible team so I'm sure that we're going to do everything in order to win this game. ... I'm going to be on the bench. I might not play, but I am going to be on the bench like my other teammates. I'm going to be part of this team on Saturday. ... It's not like I didn't play the entire season. I played a lot during this Champions League [season]. For sure, if the team wins, all the club, all the Madridistas will also win this title so I'm just going to push everybody to be ready and to compete."

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Real Madrid's financial might

Real Madrid already have a star-studded squad featuring Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham and are expected to add Kylian Mbappe to their roster next season, a reflection of their strong financial standing as much as their championship-winning pedigree. They are now the most valuable club in the world, beating Manchester United for that distinction this year, and continue to add to their strong economic position by maximizing their stadium's potential.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is both a successful soccer and concert venue, hosting Taylor Swift once Real Madrid made their way to London for the Champions League final. Swift's stop is expected to generate around $4 million, according to reporting from James Benge, while the NFL regular season game they will host next year will add to the regular cadence of extracurricular revenue the club is now generating. Benge also recognizes that they successfully stayed within the bounds of La Liga and Europe's financial regulations, demonstrating a financial might few have in this modern era of soccer.

  • Benge: "Unlike their great rivals, Madrid came out of the COVID-19 woods relatively unscathed. They had gotten out of the Cristiano Ronaldo business at an opportune moment and for many years a squad of serial European champions only required investment on the fringes. Rebalancing a squad around Vinicius and Rodrygo, among other young talents, required significant fees but altogether lower wages. Even as more and more young talent has been snapped up, Perez has kept a close eye on the purse strings. According to analysis by Swiss Ramble, Madrid's 49 percent wages-to-turnover ratio is the best in La Liga. They ought to have no issue acing UEFA's squad cost regime."
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