UEFA Champions League Final: 5 Things To Watch Out For 

2023/24 UEFA Champions League Final: 5 things to watch out for 

May 27, 2024

The perfect Favourite vs Underdog story, two legends of the game hanging up their boots, an all-English sub-plot, and a stack of potential landmarks will be the talking points ahead of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League final.

Wembley Stadium has witnessed some of the greatest moments in European club football history down the years, more recently the 2013 Champions League final, when Bayern Munich overcame Borussia Dortmund over 90 minutes. 

On June 1, the venue will play host to Spanish champions Real Madrid, who are looking to add an unprecedented fifteenth UCL title to their cabinet, while German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund, who last won the competition in 1997, will want to avoid the outcome of the 2013 final. 

Here are five things to watch out for during the upcoming UCL final. 

Perfect swansong for Kroos and Reus 

Having spent more than a decade and with 428 first-team appearances for his boyhood club, Marco Reus has one last chance to win the biggest European club competition.

Since re-joining the club back in 2012, the former Germany international has scored 170 goals and provided 131 assists for Dortmund, having helped them lift two DFB-Pokal trophies. However, it is the Bundesliga and the Champions League trophies that have eluded him and Dortmund over the past decade. Suffice it to say, Reus will want to end his Dortmund chapter on the highest of notes.

On the other side of the coin, we have the ever-reliable and iconic midfield general, Toni Kroos. The five-time Champions League winner has already announced his decision to retire following Euro 2024 this summer.

The 34-year-old midfielder is only one of seven players to have played 150 or more Champions League games. Moreover, winning another UCL title will take him alongside the likes of Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Ancelotti to further cement his place as Europe’s greatest ever

There have been many great managers both in the past and the present, with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Bob Paisley, and Zinedine Zidane having all won the UCL three times each as a coach.

But even those names are put in the shade by Carlo Ancelotti, whose four victories—two with AC Milan and two with Real Madrid—remain unmatched. Also a two-time UCL winner as a player at Milan, the 64-year-old now takes his place on the bench for the sixth time in a Champions League final in a bid to go two clear of the rest. 

Looking back at their route to the final, one can safely say that Ancelotti’s side had the tougher draw and yet prevailed amidst challenging circumstances, like they usually do, giving themselves the confidence to clinch the club’s sixth UCL title in ten years.

Clash of the English boys 

In the summer of 2023, Jude Bellingham left Borussia Dortmund to join Real Madrid, having scored 24 goals in 132 appearances across all competitions for the German club. However, since his move to Madrid, the England international has been a revelation for the Spanish giants, having racked up an astonishing 23 goals in 40 games in his debut season.

At Wembley, he will come face to face with the last English starlet touted for such stardom.

The 24-year-old Jadon Sancho is now in his second spell at Borussia Dortmund, having amassed 50 goals and 60 assists in his last stint before heading to Manchester United. The English winger’s time at Old Trafford has not hit the same heights, but the magic has seemingly returned since moving back to Germany. The question now is whether he can upstage the man who succeeded him on one of the biggest nights of his career since that 2021 Euro final. 

Records up for grabs 

It’s not just Ancelotti who’s chasing the history books, as two of his own players stand a chance to etch their names into them should Real Madrid lift the coveted trophy again.

Club legends Luka Modric and Dani Carvajal both could join Blancos great Paco Gento as the only players to win the European Cup six times.

The two stalwarts, now 38 and 32, respectively, already sit alongside Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo as the most decorated players in the Champions League era with five triumphs.

At the other end of the scale, Real Madrid’s Arda Güler and Dortmund’s Salih Özcan will be hoping to play a part in for their respective clubs and become in the process the first Turkish player to win the competition.

The ultimate Favorite v Underdog story 

This is Real Madrid’s competition.

Los Blancos are the most successful club in European Cup/Champions League history and are just one game away from securing their fifteenth title. If they win at Wembley, it will be their sixth UCL title in the last ten seasons and also their first unbeaten UCL campaign. 

They won all six of their group games, before overcoming RB Leipzig, Pep Guardiola’s Man City on penalties, and German giants Bayern Munich thanks to two stoppage-time goals from sub Joselu in the second leg to book their place in the final.

However, standing in their way of glory are a Dortmund side looking to avenge their 2013 Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich at the same ground and lift the famous trophy for the first time since 1997. A lot of people had written them off this campaign, but after coming out of the group of death, they knocked out PSV, Atlético Madrid, and most recently Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain without conceding a single goal across both legs.

Since Champions League finals are usually close affairs, with each of the last five seeing two or fewer goals scored in each of them. It could well take only one moment of magic or lapse in concentration to decide this year’s final. 

Rahul Saha

An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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