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Editorials, Sports

Dortmund’s Davids Aiming to Slay Real Madrid’s UCL Goliath

The stage is set for a historic clash in the UCL final. Underdog Borussia Dortmund faces the mighty Real Madrid

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 31st May 2024

The stage is set for a colossal clash in the 2023/2024 UEFA Champions League (UCL) final, with Borussia Dortmund facing the mighty Real Madrid. While Los Blancos, under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, are the clear favorites aiming to add another trophy to their illustrious collection, Dortmund, defying expectations, stand ready to cause an upset.


Their journey to the final hasn’t been easy. The German side battled past rivals Atletico Madrid and then held firm against the firepower of Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain in the UCL semi-finals. Now, they face their biggest challenge yet.


Here are four key players who will be pivotal if Borussia Dortmund is to pull off a historic victory against the European giants:


1. Jadon Sancho: 


Jadon Sancho’s return to Borussia Dortmund has been a story of remarkable redemption. After a tumultuous period at Manchester United, labeled a scapegoat by manager Erik ten Hag, a loan move back to his former club has reignited his career.


Sancho is currently playing some of the best football of his career, surpassing even his pre-United form. Against PSG in the semi-finals, he was arguably the standout player, terrorizing the Parisian defenders with his pace and dribbling skills. Real Madrid’s fullbacks will need to be extra cautious – Sancho possesses the lethal combination of speed and close control to blow past his marker and create dangerous opportunities for his teammates.



Dortmund will be heavily reliant on Sancho’s resurgent form. His ability to stretch the defense with his pace and create scoring chances through precise dribbling could be the key to unlocking Real Madrid’s resolute backline and securing a historic Champions League victory.


2. Niclas Füllkrug:


Niclas Füllkrug is enjoying a breakout season, finding the net consistently for both club and country. In the Champions League alone, he’s amassed an impressive 3 goals and 2 assists in just 12 appearances.


While he didn’t find the scoresheet against PSG, his relentless pressure on their backline throughout the match was crucial. He’s proven his ability to deliver in big moments, having netted important goals against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals.



Facing a well-organized Real Madrid defense anchored by the likes of Rüdiger and Militão, Füllkrug will need to be clinical in front of goal. His current form, boasting 16 goals and 10 assists across all competitions, is a testament to his finishing prowess.


Dortmund must learn a valuable lesson from fellow Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich: failing to capitalize on scoring opportunities against Real Madrid often leads to swift punishment. Füllkrug’s ability to convert chances will be paramount if Dortmund is to overcome this formidable opponent.


3. Mats Hummels: 


Mats Hummels has been a rock at the heart of Dortmund’s defense this season, consistently performing at a high level in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. In the crucial semi-final against PSG, it was Hummels, not only marshalling the iconic “Yellow Wall” defense, but also rising highest to score the all-important goal that secured their place in the final.


Dortmund will once again rely on Hummels’ experience and leadership to shut down Real Madrid’s potent attack at Wembley. He will be tasked with neutralizing the threats posed by Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, and even his former teammate Jude Bellingham.



While Hummels has enjoyed a stellar season for Dortmund, his exclusion from the Germany squad for EURO 2024 by manager Julian Nagelsmann came as a bitter blow. The 35-year-old center-back publicly expressed his disappointment, stating his belief that he remains “one of the five best defenders in Germany.”


However, any lingering disappointment must be set aside. Hummels will need to be at his commanding best, not only defensively but also offensively, by posing a threat during set-pieces. His leadership and ability to switch between defensive solidity and aerial dominance from set-pieces will be crucial for Dortmund’s upset bid against the mighty Real Madrid.


4. Karim Adeyemi


Despite being overlooked by Julian Nagelsmann for the EURO 2024 squad, just like teammate Mats Hummels, Karim Adeyemi has firmly established himself as one of the world’s most exciting young wingers.


Adeyemi has been instrumental in Dortmund’s remarkable Champions League run, and his performance against Real Madrid will be critical to their chances of lifting the trophy. While Jadon Sancho looks to torment Los Blancos from the right flank, Adeyemi will be expected to do the same down the left.



If these four players, alongside the in-form Sancho, can all deliver top-drawer performances on Saturday, then Dortmund might just pull off a historic upset and claim their first Champions League title since 1997. The spotlight will be on Adeyemi, who has a point to prove after his national team snub.


Can he rise to the occasion and etch his name in Dortmund’s Champions League folklore?

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