UEFA Champions League

The View From Germany: Dortmund stat-pack & 8/1 Bet Builder tip

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt
Can Julian Brandt deliver for Dortmund at Wembley?

We've asked world feed TV commentator and Bundesliga columnist Kevin Hatchard to take a deep dive into Borussia Dortmund's Champions League campaign, as they prepare to face mighty Real Madrid at Wembley.

Champions League Superboost

Real Madrid are hunting their 15th European Cup/Champions League trophy and should they be successful, they will have won more than double the number of the next best side, which is AC Milan on seven.

Standing in their way is Borussia Dortmund, who are appearing in just their third such final, having won the competition in 1996-97 & lost - at Wembley - to Bayern Munich back in 2012-13. Madrid's European dominance and the odds suggest this will be a routine evening for Carlo Ancelotti's men, so Betfair have decided to offer up a Superboost that is likely to reflect the state of the game.

Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel has been nothing short of sensational in the Champions League this season, saving 84% of the shots on target he has faced in the competition (42/50). Opta tells us that based on the quality of chances he has faced on target, the average 'keeper would have conceded 14 goals, compared to Kobel's actual total of just seven (excluding own goals).

Not only that, Kobel has the most Champions League clean sheets to his name with six, with his 42 saves averaging out at 3.8 per game in the competition this season.

The Yellow Wall indeed.

The thing is, Dortmund do have a lot to thank Kobel for getting them this far, as of all the sides that qualified for the knockout stages this season, only Napoli (16.9) face more shots per game than Dortmund's 15.3, so Kobel has been kept incredibly busy.

With Real expected to dominate the ball and take the game to Dortmund - who will be happy to sit off - we can expect a high number of shots from the Spanish champions - just ask the guys on the Football... Only Bettor Podcast.

Only three sides have averaged more shots on target per game than Real Madrid in this season's Champions League (5.7), and Ancelotti's men are primed to pepper the Dortmund goal once again at Wembley.

Betfair have boosted the Dortmund goalkeeper - which includes whomever may replace Kobel should he get injured - to make 3 or more saves vs Real Madrid to 1/12.00 - up from 1/21.50!

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
Saturday 01 June, 20:00
Live on TNT Sports

Dortmund's campaign full of highs and lows

While Borussia Dortmund have distinctly underachieved in the Bundesliga this season - they deservedly finished fifth - they have saved their best performances of the season for the Champions League. Placed in the "group of death" alongside Milan, PSG and Newcastle, they lost just one of six games and topped the section.

A coaching reshuffle (former BVB players Nuri Sahin and Sven Bender were brought in to assist coach Edin Terzic) gave Dortmund some post-Christmas momentum, and they only lost four of their 18 league matches in 2024. Dortmund were moments away from becoming the first team to beat the runaway leaders Bayer Leverkusen, only for Josip Stanisic to net an equaliser with just moments remaining. They did manage to hold onto a lead in Munich, as they beat Bayern 2-0 to secure their first league win at the Allianz Arena for ten years.

In the Champions League's knockout phase, Dortmund have had a similar rollercoaster ride to Saturday night's opponents Real Madrid. Against PSV and their former coach Peter Bosz, Dortmund toiled at times, and the newly-crowned Dutch champions missed some golden opportunities before eventually falling short.

In the quarter-finals, Dortmund were simply dreadful in the first hour of their first leg at Atletico Madrid. They gave up two awful goals, and Gregor Kobel made what turned out to be a vital save from Samuel Lino to prevent it from becoming 3-0. Sebastien Haller's goal late in the first leg reduced the arrears, and then BVB won a dramatic second leg 4-2 to progress.

In the semi-finals, PSG hit the frame of the goal six times across the two legs, but Dortmund won both legs 1-0 and defended like lions. Centre-backs Nico Schlotterbeck and Mats Hummels were particularly impressive, and Swiss international Kobel was as commanding as ever. Jadon Sancho, brought back to his spiritual home in Dortmund on loan after a nightmare spell at Manchester United, produced his best display of the season in the first leg of the semi-final, as he tormented left-back Nuno Mendes.

Dortmund were on the cusp of glory last May, as they only needed to win their last game of the season to win the Bundesliga title. On a tear-filled afternoon at Signal Iduna Park, BVB blew it, drawing 2-2. Will it be heartbreak again, or will the Black and Yellows repeat their Champions League-winning heroics of 1997?

Ones To Watch

Let's take a look at some of the players who can help Borussia Dortmund become the champions of Europe on Saturday.

The Shooter - Niclas Füllkrug

There have been times in the career of Niclas Füllkrug when the bustling striker has seemed close to giving the game up. He has undergone four major knee operations, and it wasn't that long ago that he was plying his trade in the second tier.

However, the 31-year-old is the ultimate late bloomer. He scored a league-high 16 goals for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga in the 2022-23 season, earning a move to Borussia Dortmund. Vital goals against Atletico Madrid and PSG have helped power his new club to the Champions League final, and he has scored a stunning 11 goals in 15 caps for Germany.

Füllkrug has 20 goals for club and country this term, and he usually at least hits the target. He has had at least one shot on target in eight of his last nine games for BVB, and he's found the target once or more in eight of his 12 Champions League appearances, including the last five.

The Creator - Julian Brandt

While much of the buzz ahead of Wembley will be about Sancho, Julian Brandt is the true creative spark in the Borussia Dortmund attack. The former Bayer Leverkusen star has racked up 11 Bundesliga assists this season, and he's set up two goals in the Champions League.

If you look at Shot Creating Actions, Brandt is miles clear at the top of Dortmund's list (in the Bundesliga he has 133 according to fbref.com, while second-placed Donyell Malen has 74), and he is a fine set-piece taker too.

You can back Julian Brandt to score or assist at 13/53.60.

The Passer - Nico Schlotterbeck

While Nico Schlotterbeck garners attention for his last-ditch defending and his all-action style, the fact he has a cultured left foot is often forgotten. The German international centre-back is a vital part of Dortmund's build-up from the back, and his ability to launch an accurate 60-yard pass upfield for the likes of Füllkrug or Malen to run onto is a handy weapon.

Schlotterbeck had nearly 1200 more pass attempts in the Bundesliga this season than the next Dortmund player on the list, and his completion percentage of 94.6 is more than respectable, not least because he does try more showy passes from time to time.

It is however worth noting that in the Champions League, Schlotterbeck's regular defensive partner Mats Hummels has made more pass attempts, even if his Bundesliga number is much lower.

The Fouler - Emre Can

Boasting an impressive CV that features Bayern, Liverpool and Juventus, Emre Can has had a solid Champions League campaign, despite the fact he has lost his place in the Germany set-up. After some flirtations with the centre-back position, he is very much a deep midfielder for Dortmund, a player who allows the likes of Julian Brandt and Marcel Sabitzer to act as free eights.

As a defensive midfielder, racking up fouls and cards is an occupational hazard. Emre Can has produced more Bundesliga fouls than any Dortmund player this term, and he picked up five yellow cards. In the Champions League he has committed a team-high 15 fouls and racked up four bookings.

I'll combine some of these traits, and use the Sportsbook's Bet Builder tool to combine Dortmund's keeper (Kobel, injury-permitting) to make three or more saves in normal time, Füllkrug to have a shot on target and Emre Can to be shown a card. That gives us a combined price of 8/19.00.

Now read Kev's Golden Boot preview ahead of EURO 2024!

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