Dortmund out to bury Wembley memories in Champions League final against Real Madrid

Wembley will host the climax of the European football season for the sixth time in history, but the first since 2013 when Dortmund and Real Madrid face each other on June 2 (3am, Malaysian time).

Wembley holds bad memories for Dortmund as it lost the 2013 final 2-1 to arch-rival Bayern Munich. This match will mark the first time it has reached the title decider since then.

Real has won five titles in 10 years and 14 in total, making it the most successful club in this competition. Real is also unbeaten in the finals since the tournament changed its name to the Champions League in 1992, winning eight in total.

But, while the Spanish club is the hot favourite to win its 15th Champions League crown, veteran coach Steve Darby will be cheering for the underdog – Dortmund. The German club has upset the odds to reach only its third final of this competition and is chasing its second title after winning in 1997.

“My brain says Real Madrid will win, as it has too many class players who can win a game. I also think Carlo Ancelotti is a top-class coach,” said Darby, who has coached in Malaysia, Laos, Bahrain, India, Australia, Fiji, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.

“I would love for Dortmund to win as they seem like a club that belongs to the people and will show that you can still win without spending millions.

“But usually in football, the brain wins over the heart.”

The final will be of particular interest among English fans as Real’s Jude Bellingham and Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho will be on opposite sides of the pitch.

Bellingham moved to Spain from Dortmund last summer and has flourished, scoring 19 goals as Real regained the league crown from Barcelona.

Sancho, also a product of Dortmund, moved to Manchester United in 2021 but has only played 58 times after falling out with Erik ten Hag. He was sent back on loan to his former club in January.

Both players will be in the England national team’s first XI when it plays in the Euro 2024 tournament, which kicks off on June 15.

This is the sixth time Wembley is hosting the final. The first was in 1971 when Ajax beat Panathinaikos 2-0, then in 1978 when Liverpool edged Club Brugge 1-0.

Fourteen years later, Barcelona defeated Sampdoria 1-0, while Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1 in 2011, before Bayern edged Dortmund two years later.

Two players from the 2013 Dortmund side – Mats Hummels and Marco Reus – are still playing and will hope for a happier ending this weekend.

The clubs with the most wins in the tournament are Real (14), AC Milan (7), Liverpool and Bayern Munich (6), Barcelona (5), and Ajax (4).

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