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C1: the key duels of the final between Real and Dortmund

  • June 1, 2024
  • 8 Min
  • 10

If the Champions League final between Real Madrid, ultra-favorite to win a 15th C1, and Borussia Dortmund, unexpected outsider, appears unbalanced on paper, several duels could decide the outcome of the meeting.

. Rüdiger against Füllkrug: new duel of colossi

The German rock Antonio Rüdiger, boss of the Madrid defense and imperial in his previous clashes against two of the best attackers in the world Erling Haaland (Manchester City) and Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), will have the ultimate challenge of muzzling his compatriot Niclas Füllkrug, formidable atypical scorer in the air.

At 31, the German No.9, still in the second division less than two years ago, led Borussia to the final thanks to a high-class goal in the first leg against PSG (1-0) and a presence at all times in the return (1-0), allowing his team to emerge via long balls, feeding his wingers and midfielders thanks to his deflection play.

On paper, Rüdiger has everything in stock to emerge victorious from this duel, which could push Füllkrug to play on Nacho’s side, whose aerial play is the weak point, depending on the nature of the match.

. Vinicius against Ryerson: mission impossible?

C1: the key duels of the final between Real and Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund defender Julian Ryerson (l) in the fight with PSG striker Kylian Mbappé, in the semi-final second leg of the Champions League, May 7, 2024 at the Parc des Princes / FRANCK FIFE / AFP/Archives

After having perfectly managed his confrontation against Kylian Mbappé in the half, the Norwegian full-back Julian Ryerson will, with the help of the experienced Mats Hummels, have the difficult task of containing the twirling Vinicius Junior, who is tormenting the European defenses in turn.

As he proved against Manchester City in the quarters, then Bayern Munich in the half, Vinicius is simply unstoppable when he is on a big night. Joshua Kimmich, Bayern midfielder placed on the right side of the Munich defense can attest to this, after having experienced a real ordeal at the Bernabeu in the half return.

Often positioned between his left wing, his favorite area, and the front of the attack, the Brazilian striker, in full swing since the start of 2024, will be a real headache to manage for the Scandinavian defender, who will try to minimize his influence through his speed and positioning.

. Sancho versus Mendy: danger zone

C1: the key duels of the final between Real and Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund’s English winger Jadon Sancho (l) against PSG in the Champions League semi-final second leg, May 7, 2024 at the Parc des Princes / Odd ANDERSEN / AFP/Archives

On the other side, it is the French full-back Ferland Mendy who will have a hard time facing the English winger Jadon Sancho, untenable in the double confrontation against Paris and back to the forefront in his former club, where he is on loan from Manchester United.

Especially since the 24-year-old dribbler, excluded from the English selection, will be keen to demonstrate his talent on home soil, at Wembley, in a stadium where he has not returned with the Three Lions since the defeat in the final of Euro-2021 against Italy during a penalty shootout during which Sancho missed his attempt.

The excesses of Sancho, and his combinations in the axis with Niclas Füllkrug and Julian Brandt, and those of Karim Adeyemi on the left, will be the main dangers to manage for the Madrid defense, often intractable, but which had been fooled against the Bayern on individual sequences from Leroy Sané (goal scorer) and Alphonso Davies (return scorer).

. Bellingham vs. Emre Can: mastery of the middle

C1: the key duels of the final between Real and Dortmund

Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham celebrates a goal against FC Barcelona, ​​April 21, 2024 at the Bernabeu stadium / OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP/Archives

Very discreet during the semi-final against Bayern, Jude Bellingham will be scrutinized for his first Champions League final, he who joined Real in the summer of 2023, from… Borussia Dortmund.

If his performance compared to the start of the season has waned a little, Bellingham remains the keystone of the Madrid game and will face his former teammate and now BVB captain, Emre Can.

Placed alongside the Austrian Marcel Sabitzer in the Borussia midfield, Can was invaluable in the Dortmund midfield to slow down the development of the opposing game, both in the quarter-finals against Atlético Madrid and in the semi-finals against PSG.