Marco Reus waved farewell to Borussia Dortmund after Champions League agony on Saturday, with former team-mate Roman Burki expecting the Germany veteran to join him in MLS.

Burki ended a seven-year stay with Dortmund in 2022, switching the Bundesliga for MLS football as the goalkeeper joined the newly created St. Louis City.

The St. Louis goalkeeper faced Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba in Sunday's 3-3 draw with Inter Miami, and hinted that the league could soon welcome another European star.

"I talked to Marco Reus ahead of the Champions League game, I texted, we didn't talk about the move then because he was obviously focused on the game, but Major League Soccer has a very good chance of seeing him next year or the summer," Burki told ESPN.

"I can't tell which team, I am still trying [to convince him] but at some point it's up to [sporting director] Lutz [Pfannenstiel] and [club owner] Carolyn [Kindle] to make a move."

Reus leaves Dortmund after 12 years with the German side, signing off with a heartbreaking 2-0 defeat against Real Madrid in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium.

Previous reports have suggested Reus could make the switch to the United States, opening up the potential for a reunion with Burki.

St. Louis head coach Bradley Carnell would love to bring the pair back together, though warned that the move is not guaranteed.

"Every time there is a transfer window opening, whether it's our club or not, everyone gets names thrown out at them. We've had plenty of names, whether it's to join now or in six months," Carnell told ESPN.

"We go through our lists, and we see if it makes sense or not. When we are in the position that we are in, sure maybe something comes around.

"The Marco Reus rumours are flattering, it would be something interesting for the league and our team. It's one of Roman's best friends, it would be a nice fairytale story.

"But sometimes reality is far from that. We're working ways and figuring things out, but right now there's nothing to be said about the Marco Reus rumour. But the window opens up pretty soon."

St. Louis owner Kindle echoed Carnell's sentiment, adding: "It's absolutely amazing [being linked to Reus.] In full disclosure, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction.

"Sometimes I call and ask about the rumours, but I thought it would take us three to five years to get to this point of being linked to these figures and we're on year two and these rumours are amazing."

Toni Kroos is set to leave Real Madrid as a six-time Champions League winner but Carlo Ancelotti wants the Los Blancos midfielder to reverse his retirement decision.

The Germany midfielder appears to have played the final club game of his career, signing off with European glory after a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in Saturday's final.

Kroos delivered a perfect corner-kick assist for Dani Carvajal's 74th-minute opener at Wembley Stadium before Vinicius Junior sealed Madrid's 15th crown in UEFA's top club competition.

The 34-year-old Kroos will head to Euro 2024 with Germany this month before calling time on his glittering career, though Ancelotti hopes he will change his mind.

"I'm really grateful to Kroos," Ancelotti said. "He finished at the very top, there is no way to finish higher than this.

"He had the boldness to finish it [his career] and he is a legend at this club.

"All the fans are grateful to him for his attitude, his professionalism. I've told him we are waiting for him to change his mind – we are waiting for you."

It was the sixth winning campaign for Madrid quadruple Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Nacho in the Champions League.

Only Paco Gento (six) has won the European Cup/Champions League as many times among players in history.

This success will be further boosted by the expected arrival of Kylian Mbappe, who is reportedly set to join Madrid after announcing his intentions to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

Ancelotti says Los Blancos will look to new arrivals, as well as the current crop of Madrid stars, to combat Kroos' retirement.

"We have lost an important player, but we have players who can replace him and we will adapt and play a slightly different way," Ancelotti said.

"We have fantastic players and the resources to remain competitive."

Kroos' Germany face Ukraine and Greece in warm-up fixtures before opening their Euro 2024 campaign against Scotland on June 14.

Edin Terzic was unsure whether Jadon Sancho will return to Borussia Dortmund but said the "brilliant" winger will play in more Champions League finals.

The on-loan Manchester United attacker was unable to stop Real Madrid from securing their 15th title in Europe's top continental club competition on Saturday.

Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior did the damage late on for Carlo Ancelotti's side at Wembley Stadium, where Sancho was playing on home turf at England's national home ground.

Sancho is set to return to Old Trafford after being dismissed following his widely reported fallout with manager Erik ten Hag, though Terzic hailed the BVB loanee.

"I am very happy to work with Jadon," Terzic said after the 2-0 defeat. "I don't know what the future will bring, but for sure it will bring him another Champions League final.

"I didn't speak about his future [at Dortmund} because we have been talking about the present and the present is playing a Champions League final in his hometown, a very special moment for him.

"He is very happy with us and you can see the joy he has and the joy he brings to us. For the last six months, he has been brilliant for us.

"Of course, he took time to get into shape, but you can feel his quality and skills improved our game immediately.

"He not only improved his game, but those around him. He is very gifted."

Terzic's Dortmund will feel they should have, at the very least, got something out of the first half against Madrid.

Madrid's left-hand post denied Niclas Fullkrug, while Karim Adeyemi rounded Thibaut Courtois but could not find the target.

Dortmund have now lost each of their last three major European finals in a row, against Feyenoord in 2002, Bayern in 2013 and Madrid this year.

Yet veteran centre-back Mats Hummels, who played every minute of this Champions League campaign, remains proud of Terzic's men.

"We showed a lot of courage, heart and footballing skill," speaking with Germany's ZDF network.

"We missed out on scoring and then conceded the goal. That's how they always do it.

"That shows their quality, but it also took a bit of luck today."

Jude Bellingham lauded Carlo Ancelotti for unlocking previously unknown potential in his game as the pair celebrated Champions League success on Saturday.

The England international ended his first season in the Spanish capital with LaLiga and European glory, after the 2-0 victory over Bellingham's former club Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium.

A battling victory secured Los Blancos' 15th trophy in Europe's top competition, at least eight more than any other side (Milan, seven), as Ancelotti made further history.

The Italian has won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League more times than any other manager (five), with three of those coming in charge of Madrid.

That is also the joint-most for a manager in charge of a specific team, along with Bob Paisley at Liverpool (three) and Zinedine Zidane, also at Madrid (three).

Bellingham was quick to hail the work of veteran boss Ancelotti before the party started for Madrid in London. 

"He has unlocked a part of my game that I didn't know I had," Bellingham told TNT Sports. "That is the thing about world-class coaches, they make you realise how good you can be.

"They test the limits of your potential. It is like being at school again, you learn something new every day and get better and better."

This was the sixth winning campaign for Madrid quadruple Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Nacho in the Champions League, taking them level with Paco Gento (six) as the players who have won the European competition the most times in history.

Working alongside those players comes with its challenges, though, Bellingham says.

The 20-year-old continued: "Special feeling. Some of my team-mates have five or six titles and they said enjoy your first as it's a feeling like no other when you reach the top of the mountain.

"It's important to maintain that level but never forget your first and enjoy it. They were the better team for the majority but it comes down to moments and if you don't kill us, then it will come back to haunt you."

Having celebrated their league and continental double, Madrid could soon welcome the arrival of world-class forward Kylian Mbappe, who is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires.

With Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo usually either side of him up top, Bellingham expressed his excitement over an enticing link-up with the France attacker.

"It would be amazing if a player like him arrived," Bellingham added. "One of the best in the world."

Edin Terzic says he feels "proud but empty" following Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday.

Dortmund were the better side in the first half, though lacked a clinical edge to punish a Madrid side struggling to create chances.

Late goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior clinched a record-extending 15th European crown for Los Blancos, with Dortmund suffering Champions League heartbreak on Wembley turf for a second time.

The Black and Yellow have now lost their last three major European finals, though Terzic was still able to reflect on the positives from the game despite the disappointing result.

Speaking to TNT Sports after the game, he said: "After a Champions League final we've lost, I'm proud but also empty. It's difficult to think about the last 12 months and analyse that period. But I think we've had a season with a lot of ups and downs.

"Today was a perfect example of what is possible with this team, what we can achieve and that's what's important from tomorrow onwards. We have to try to be more consistent.

"It's difficult to find the words. Performance-wise, we played a great game, but we found out why they've become champions for the 15th time. They were so effective and that was something we missed.

"We showed that we were here to win, not just play a game. We were close. Small things missing. But congratulations to them to keep this kind of hunger. You can see why they are champions.

"This is a proud moment. We took 100,000 people from Dortmund to London, and everybody had the belief. It was a fantastic journey, but I'm also a bit empty inside as it was a great opportunity, but we didn't take it."

On the opposite side, former Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham became the third-youngest player to start a Champions League final for Madrid at 20 years and 338 days, after Iker Casillas in 2000 and Raul in 1998.

Terzic was full of praise for his former player and passed on his well wishes to the England international.

"When he left us, I said the same thing I said to Erling Haaland - that I was proud to be their manager," he added.

"It is his first Champions League win, and it is a proud moment for him.

"I know what Mark, Denise and Jobe are doing to get this success in the family. Congratulations to Jude."

Toni Kroos was hailed as a "legend" by his fellow midfielder Federico Valverde after helping Real Madrid win their 15th European crown in the final game of his club career on Saturday.

Kroos enjoyed a winning send-off in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium, assisting Dani Carvajal's opener in a hard-fought 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.

The 34-year-old – who will hang up his boots after representing Germany at Euro 2024 – joined Luka Modric and Nacho in winning his sixth European crown, a feat only previously achieved by Paco Gento.

Kroos led all 22 starters for touches (108), passes attempted (94), and passes completed (91), while only Ferland Mendy, with perfect distribution, bettered his passing accuracy (96.8 per cent). Dortmund's Julian Brandt matched his four chances created.

Speaking to Movistar after the game, Kroos expressed relief that Madrid had survived a below-par first half, in which Dortmund missed several decent chances.

"The decisive thing was that we didn't concede in the first half. The first half really wasn’t good from us," Kroos said.

"Then we got into the game better and scored the goal. We were fully there and the better team. But it took a long time until we were the better team tonight."

Valverde, meanwhile, was glowing in his praise for Kroos. 

Asked how much he would miss his retiring midfield partner, the Uruguayan said: "A lot, like everyone else. 

"He is a person who has left his legend here, his mark. We, as youngsters, try to learn as much from him as possible, like with Modric. 

"Thank you for all that you have given and taught us on a day-to-day basis, for that competitiveness."

Asked about Madrid's winning mentality, he added: "It comes from the greatest, those who give this value to this club: you always win. 

"Tomorrow we'll go to celebrate, but they'll tell us to win it again next year!"

Jude Bellingham described becoming a Champions League winner as the best night of his life after helping Real Madrid down his former club Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. 

Madrid clinched a record-extending 15th European crown on Saturday, claiming a hard-fought 2-0 win over Dortmund, who spurned several clear opportunities in the first half.

Dani Carvajal headed in Toni Kroos' corner for the 74th-minute breakthrough, before an Ian Maatsen error allowed Bellingham to slip in Vinicius Junior for a late second.

At the age of 20 years and 338 days, Bellingham became the third-youngest player to start a Champions League final for Madrid, after Iker Casillas in 2000 (19 years, four days) and Raul in 1998 (20 years, 327 days). 

He also became the third-youngest English player to do so with any team after Trent Alexander-Arnold in 2018 (19 years, 231 days) and Owen Hargreaves in 2001 (20 years, 123 days).

Speaking to TNT Sports immediately after the full-time whistle, Bellingham was lost for words to describe the feeling of becoming a European champion.

"I've always dreamed of playing in these games," he said. "You go through life and there are so many people saying you can't do things and days like today remind you why you do it.

"When it gets hard at times you start to wonder if it's all worth it. Nights like tonight make it all worth it.

"I was okay until I saw my Mum and Dad's faces. The nights they could have been home at seven o'clock but they were still out at eleven or twelve taking me to football. 

"My little brother there who I am trying to be a role model for too... it's hard to put it into words. It's the best night of my life."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti felt winning the European Cup for a record-extending 15th time on Saturday had been much more difficult than expected for the Spanish champions.

Los Blancos needed two late goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior to beat Germany's Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the Champions League final at Wembley.

"I never get used to it, because it was difficult, very difficult, more than expected," Ancelotti told Movistar Plus+.

"In the first half we were a bit lazy, we had losses and they [Dortmund] were able to play how they wanted, but in the second half we were better and more balanced, with fewer losses.

"This is a dream that continues. I don't know what is going to happen tonight, but we are not going to sleep!"

Ancelotti added to TNT Sports: "It seems a dream but it is reality. Really happy for sure. A final is always like this [with good and bad parts of the game].

"We were able to win, it was a fantastic season and we are really happy to be able to win the cup again."

Asked how Madrid are able to keep winning the Champions League, he replied: "It is the history and tradition of the club and of course the quality of the players.

"The club is a family, we work all together without problems and the atmosphere is really good in the dressing room.

"I need to thank the club and the players, no big egos, really humble, it was not difficult to manage the squad this season."

Carvajal also acknowledged Madrid had been fortunate to escape from a first half where Dortmund squandered a host of good goalscoring opportunities.

"After the first half we had, we didn't even deserve to go the changing room with a level score, but this is football and we are very, very happy," said defender Carvajal, who scored the first goal by heading in Toni Kroos’ corner.

For Dortmund, it was another Champions League final loss at Wembley, which also hosted their 2013 defeat by domestic rivals Bayern Munich.

"At the moment we are bitterly disappointed," said Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel. "Against Real you don’t get too many chances and they always become dangerous.

"We had our chances and should have done a bit more.

"We are still disappointed, but 100% it was a huge success to come here and play this game, so we are very proud."

Borussia Dortmund's hopes of sending Marco Reus off with a Champions League title ended in heartbreak as they lost 2-0 to Real Madrid on Saturday.

After 12 years with his boyhood club, Reus announced the Wembley showpiece would be his final match for Dortmund.

But despite a dominant first-half performance, they could not beat the serial winners, who scored two late goals through Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior to win their 15th European crown.

Edin Terzic’s side were given just a 21.4 per cent chance of victory by the Opta supercomputer before kick-off, but they came out of the blocks quickly with the aim of flipping the script.

Dortmund’s expected goals (xG) figure of 1.68 in the opening period was the largest by a team in the first half of a Champions League final on record (since 2013-14), and was also the highest by an opponent against Madrid in the first half this term.

Their two big chances fell to Niclas Fullkrug and Karim Adeyemi, the former striking the post and the latter forcing a good save out of Thibaut Courtois, having earlier wasted a one-on-one chance with the Belgian goalkeeper.

The German team were solid in defence too, forcing Madrid into half-time without having a single shot on target – the first time that has happened to any team in a Champions League final since Tottenham versus Liverpool in 2019.

Julian Brandt looked to be key for the Black and Yellow, creating four chances, the most in a Champions League final since Luka Modric against Atletico Madrid in 2015-16 (seven), though that tally would be equalled by Toni Kroos in the second half.

Reus was brought on for his 424th and final BVB appearance in the 72nd minute, hoping to sign off in the perfect way, but it was another departing German that soon caught the eye.

Kroos, playing for Madrid for the last time ahead of his retirement, set up Carvajal for Madrid’s opener just two minutes later.

Gregor Kobel saved 46 of the 56 shots on target he faced this season in the competition, and he made three big stops to keep Dortmund in the contest at 1-0.

However, an Ian Maatsen mistake led to Madrid’s second, with Dortmund conceding in the final 15 minutes of a Champions League game for the first time this campaign as Jude Bellingham slipped in Vinicius to convert.

Dortmund have now only won one of their last five finals in major European competitions (3-1 versus Juventus in the 1997 Champions League), losing each of their last three in a row (against Feyenoord in 2002, Bayern Munich in 2013 and Madrid in 2024).

Borussia Dortmund left everything out there on the Wembley Stadium turf, but everything was not enough. For the Champions League belongs to Real Madrid, and to Toni Kroos.

Los Blancos captured their record-extending 15th European crown with a hard-fought 2-0 win over BVB on Saturday, with second-half goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior punishing Edin Terzic's men for a series of misses.

For all the star power available to them, for all the talk of destiny pitting Jude Bellingham against his former club at the home of English football, Madrid just seem to have a knack for finding unlikely heroes, and Carvajal certainly fits that category.

The identity of Madrid's opening scorer may have been a surprise, but that of the man who created it was not.

In the final game of his storied club career, it was Kroos whose pinpoint corner was glanced home by Carvajal. By the time Kroos was substituted to a rousing ovation in the 85th minute, Ian Maatsen's error had allowed Vinicius in to make the victory safe.

This win was not straightforward, though. With Madrid, things rarely are.

Madrid's road to Wembley was not quite as dramatic as the frankly ridiculous series of events that led to them winning their 14th crown in 2021-22.

On that occasion, Carlo Ancelotti's men pulled off a series of increasingly unlikely rescue acts to break the hearts of Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City before Thibaut Courtois kept Liverpool at bay in the final.

They still faced their share of adversity this time around, though. 

Having come under fierce pressure against RB Leipzig in the last 16, they made a dismal start to the home leg of their quarter-final against Manchester City, Phil Foden putting them on the back foot within two minutes. Within another 12, Madrid found themselves 2-1 up.

After a pulsating 3-3 draw, they needed a desperate rearguard action to negotiate 120 minutes at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola's all-conquering machine fired off shot after shot – 33 in total, the most in any Champions League knockout game since Liverpool attempted 34 against Atletico Madrid in March 2020.

But the ball simply would not go in after Kevin De Bruyne cancelled out Rodrygo's opener, setting the stage for Andriy Lunin's penalty shoot-out heroics to send Madrid through.

In the last four, they produced their best impression of the class of 2022, former Stoke City and Newcastle United man Joselu – much maligned when he arrived on loan last June after a failure to lure Kylian Mbappe – stepping off the bench with a last-gasp brace to stun Bayern Munich.

Ahead of Saturday's match, Madrid had only trailed for 7.5 per cent of their total game time in the Champions League this season (90 minutes out of 1,200), the lowest percentage of any side. 

They had, however, won four matches after falling behind, with only Barcelona in 1999-00 and Los Blancos themselves in 2016-17 (five each) ever recording more comeback wins in a single edition of the tournament. 

Resilience, aura, whatever you want to call it, Madrid have it by the bucketload. 

Onto the final. Madrid were again slow out of the traps, even the effortlessly cool Ancelotti looking slightly ruffled as Dortmund's excellent transition play caught them out time and again.

Madrid were caught flat-footed when Mats Hummels released Karim Adeyemi through on goal midway through the first half, yet the youngster's touch past Courtois took him too far wide and Carvajal recovered with a vital challenge. That was warning number one.

Warning number two came when Maatsen slipped Niclas Fullkrug through on goal two minutes later. There was a hint of offside as the Germany striker stretched to prod goalwards, but an even bigger hint of fortune for Madrid as the ball bounced off the inside of the post and found its way to safety. 

Another six minutes later, warning number three as Adeyemi beat Carvajal in another footrace, his low strike from the angle working Courtois again.

Madrid became the first team to fail to record a shot on target in the first half of a Champions League final since Tottenham versus Liverpool in 2019. Their total of two first-half attempts was their joint-fewest in 55 games this season.

Dortmund had them on the ropes, but like Leipzig, City and Bayern, they failed to deliver the knockout blow. 

For all the exuberance of Terzic's team, for all the noise and colour brought by the Yellow Wall behind them, the outcome somehow felt inevitable, and so it proved.

Kroos began finding his range early in the second half, testing Gregor Kobel with a clever free-kick from near the corner of the area before seeing another set-piece nodded over the top by Carvajal – a sighter for the right-back. 

Dortmund continued to threaten at the other end, though, with Courtois again worked by Fullkrug's diving header just after the hour mark.

The big moment, as is so often the case when Madrid are involved, seemed to come out of nowhere.

One perfect swing of Kroos' right boot, one inch-perfect corner delivery, and Dortmund were on the back foot. 

A Dortmund recovery never looked likely from there, with Madrid slotting into cruise (or should we say Kroos?) control.

The midfielder led all 22 starters for touches (108), passes attempted (94), and passes completed (91), while only Ferland Mendy, with perfect distribution, bettered his passing accuracy (96.8 per cent). Dortmund's Julian Brandt matched his four chances created. 

At half-time, Kroos might have looked jaded as Madrid's midfield was caught cold by Dortmund's rapid transition play. By full-time, he was the coolest man at Wembley.  

When it comes to the big moments, Madrid just know how to dial it up. Perhaps no player quite personifies that trait like Kroos.

When announcing his retirement last month, Kroos said he wished to go out at the very top.

By joining Carvajal, Nacho and Luka Modric in winning six European crowns, a feat only previously achieved by Paco Gento, he has certainly accomplished that. 

Real Madrid were crowned kings of Europe for a record-extending 15th time with a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final at Wembley on Saturday.

Huge favourites going into the game, the Spanish side were outplayed for long periods but broke Dortmund's resistance with late goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior.

Veteran right back Carvajal glanced in a header from a Toni Kroos corner in the 74th minute and from that moment Carlo Ancelotti's side sparked into life.

Vinicius slid home Madrid's second in the 83rd minute to silence the yellow-clad Dortmund fans who had created a wall of noise throughout the final.

It was hard on the German side who missed several good first-half chances, the best of which saw Niclas Fullkrug hit the post from close range.

Data Debrief: Madrid deliver unbeaten campaign

Victory in the final meant Madrid had gone through a whole European Cup or Champions League campaign without defeat for the first time.

Ancelotti's side won nine and drew four of their 13 matches this season, not losing any. They are the second LaLiga team to achieve the feat, as Barcelona also managed it in 2005-06 under Frank Rijkaard.

The match also saw Vinicius (aged 23 years and 325 days) become the youngest player to score in two Champions League finals, having also netted against Liverpool in their 2022 triumph.

Borussia Dortmund have not come this far in the Champions League to be mere witnesses to Real Madrid lifting the trophy for a record-extending 15th time, coach Edin Terzic vowed on Friday.

"You don't play a final, you win a final and that is our clear goal," Terzic, who will be up against his role model Carlo Ancelotti, told reporters before leading a training session at Wembley Stadium.

"We're happy to be here but we have to win at Wembley against Real Madrid, to hold that trophy in our hands."

Dortmund finished a distant fifth in the Bundesliga this season and few would have given them much hope of reaching their first Champions League final since 2013, when Wembley also hosted their defeat against domestic rivals Bayern Munich.

But Terzic's side stunned Atletico Madrid in a quarter-final thriller and then provided a tactical masterclass as they beat Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in both legs of the semi-final.

"Madrid have a role as the favourites, but we weren't favourites against Atletico or Paris either," Terzic added.

"If we are brave and not here to see Madrid win their next trophy, then we're going to have a chance.

"We are the team with the most clean sheets in the competition. You need to keep the opposition as far away from goal as possible. 

"We weren't at our highest level when we conceded goals in September, but we are a totally different team now and have shown we are ready to compete for the trophy."

One of the many threats to Dortmund's hopes will be a familiar one in the form of Jude Bellingham, who left the club for Madrid last year and has taken LaLiga by storm.

"Few players have had contact with Jude. Everyone is in the zone and concentrating on their task," Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt, sitting alongside Terzic, said. 

Saturday's final, Dortmund's 300th major European game, will be the final match in the iconic yellow shirt for Marco Reus, while Madrid's Germany midfielder Toni Kroos is also preparing for his last club game before retirement.

"I was able to play with both of them. Toni is an absolute icon and a sensational guy who has won everything," Brandt said.

"Marco is also one of the reasons why I play for BVB. He was an idol for me as a child and teenager. It's still a lot of fun to train and play with him."

Luka Modric has rejected the notion Real Madrid are clear favourites to beat Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, describing the game as "50-50".

Modric could win his sixth Champions League title on Saturday, when Madrid take on Dortmund in the showpiece game of the European club season at Wembley Stadium.

With Madrid finishing 10 points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga and Dortmund limping to a fifth-place finish in the Bundesliga, Los Blancos have been touted as overwhelming favourites.

Modric, however, does not see things that way.

"Everyone is saying that we're the favourites, but it's not like that, I see a 50-50," Modric said.

"Dortmund are a big club, they have had a great season in the Champions League and they will make it very difficult for us. We need concentration and to demonstrate on the field that we are capable of beating them."

As Madrid look to write another chapter in their love affair with Europe's elite club competition by winning a record-extending 15th title, boss Carlo Ancelotti says his players do not need any further motivation.

Heading to his eighth European Cup/Champions League final as a player or coach, three of which have come with Madrid, Ancelotti says it will be a case of business as usual. 

"The priority is to transmit clear ideas to the players. I will be as direct as possible because that’s how I feel my players react the best pre-game," he said.

"I will talk about tactics. Emotions come later and everyone deals with them according to their character. 

"Before the game there will be negative emotions, but fear is an important part of doing things well, we need to know that.

"I'm confident because over the season the team showed two important features: technical quality and sacrifice. They will be key tomorrow. 

"The more direct I am, the less nervous the team will be. We have shown the quality and the collective sacrifice. Both will be the keys to tomorrow's outcome."

Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed Thibaut Courtois will start in goal for Real Madrid in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Much of the pre-match talk centred around which goalkeeper Ancelotti would choose after Andriy Lunin played a pivotal role in helping the team to the final while Courtois was out with a long-term knee injury.

However, it appeared the Ukrainian ruled himself out of the game in a social media post on Thursday, saying: "I am very sad to say that I won't be able to prepare for the most important game of the season and the most important game of my life with my team.

"Many thanks for the messages of support and encouragement!"

In his press conference on Friday, Ancelotti said that Courtois will be starting in goal as Lunin has been suffering with the flu and had to travel separately from the rest of the squad.

The Belgian recently returned to action by featuring in four LaLiga games earlier this month, keeping clean sheets in all of them.

Courtois was also named Player of the Match in the 2022 Champions League final due to his brilliant performance in their 1-0 win over Liverpool. 

The biggest game of the European club season is upon us, as Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid face off for the Champions League trophy at Wembley Stadium.

It's fair to say Edin Terzic's side were not expected to get this far, particularly when they were drawn into a tough group containing Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Newcastle United.

However, they passed that test with flying colours before seeing off PSV, Atletico Madrid and PSG – for a second time – to book their ticket to Wembley, where they suffered final heartache against Bayern Munich 11 years ago.

Madrid, on the other hand, always expect to feature in this game.

They have had to do things the hard way this term, coming from behind in heavyweight ties against Manchester City and Bayern to emerge as favourites for a record-extending 15th European crown.

Jude Bellingham has been their talisman in his first season after leaving Dortmund, being crowned LaLiga's Player of the Season after leading Los Blancos to their 36th domestic title.

Few would bet against him having a decisive impact upon his return to England on Saturday.

The game will also represent a swansong for two iconic figures in German football, as Marco Reus prepares to leave Dortmund after 12 years and Toni Kroos plays the final game of his glittering club career.

Two DFB-Pokal wins are all Reus has to show for his distinguished spell with BVB, having also missed Germany's 2014 World Cup win due to injury. Kroos, on the other hand, could cap his career with a record-equalling sixth European crown, with his first coming with Bayern against Dortmund.

Whoever lifts the trophy, expect emotional scenes. 

What's expected?

Unsurprisingly, given their continental pedigree, Real Madrid enter Saturday's showpiece game as favourites, with the Opta supercomputer giving them a 55.6 per cent chance of victory inside 90 minutes.

Dortmund are assigned just a 21.4 per cent chance of claiming the trophy within regulation time, with 23 per cent of simulations seeing the final go to extra time and potentially penalties.

This will be Madrid's 18th appearance in a European Cup or Champions League final, with their 17 previous finals already the most of any club. They have lifted the trophy on 14 of those 17 appearances.

Dortmund, meanwhile, are making just their third appearance in a Champions League final, having overcome Juventus 3-1 in 1997 before losing 2-1 to Bayern in 2013. This will be the first Champions League final between a Spanish team and a German team since 2002, when Los Blancos overcame Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

 

Only Man City (28) have bettered Madrid's 26 goals in this season's edition of the Champions League, while only City (25.1) and PSG (24.9) have topped their total of 24.3 expected goals (xG). Dortmund rank seventh for goals scored (17) and eighth for xG (15.2), with both finalists outperforming their underlying attacking metrics in the competition, Dortmund by 1.8 and Madrid by 1.7.

It is at the other end where BVB might have been a little fortunate. Their average of 1.9 expected goals against (xGA) per Champions League game in 2023-24 is the highest of any team to progress beyond the group stage, and they have been indebted to goalkeeper Gregor Kobel. 

According to Opta's expected goals on target (xGoT) model, he has prevented 7.1 goals in the Champions League this term, conceding seven times from 14.1 xGoT faced. Madrid, meanwhile, have conceded 15 times from 15.6 xGA.  

Sancho to cap underdog story?

When Jadon Sancho was unceremoniously exiled from the Manchester United squad by Erik ten Hag last September, few would have expected to see him play in European football's biggest game within the same season. 

Sancho was initially slow to get going upon his loan return to the Westfalenstadion in January, but he has found his feet in recent months, particularly in Europe.

The winger produced a talismanic display in the first leg of Dortmund's semi-final triumph over PSG and has completed 25 dribbles across his six Champions League appearances this season.

That is the most by any player in the knockout stages of a single edition of the tournament since Neymar recorded 32 for losing finalists PSG in 2019-20.

Should Sancho inspire Terzic's men to victory, it will go down as one of the greatest comeback stories in recent memory.

Moreover, having finished fifth in the Bundesliga, Dortmund will be the second-lowest ranked German team to ever compete in a European Cup/Champions League final, after Bayern won the 1974-75 edition while finishing 10th domestically. 

Fans of an underdog story will be right behind Sancho and Dortmund on Saturday.

 

Is Madrid's name on the trophy?

When Carlo Ancelotti led Madrid to their most recent European crown in 2021-22, it sometimes felt like a greater force was at work.

Los Blancos came from behind in three successive knockout ties against PSG, Chelsea and City, pulling off increasingly unlikely rescue acts to reach the showpiece game in Paris, where Thibaut Courtois' heroics set the stage for Vinicius Junior to down Liverpool.

There has been a greater degree of control about Madrid this season, but their European aura certainly remains intact. 

Madrid have only trailed for 7.5 per cent of their total game time in the Champions League this season (90 minutes out of 1,200), the lowest percentage of any side. 

They have, however, fought back to win four matches in which they've been behind in the competition this term, with only Barcelona in 1999-00 and Madrid themselves in 2016-17 (five each) having more comeback wins in a single edition.

The most memorable of those saw Joselu's late brace dump Bayern Munich out in the semi-finals, but they also had to hold firm to keep RB Leipzig and City at bay in their previous knockout ties.

Teams are advised to play the game rather than the occasion, but Madrid often find something extra when it matters most in a tournament they regard as their own.

PREVIOUS MEETING

The teams last faced each other in the Champions League in 2017-18, with Los Blancos winning both games in the group stage, triumphing 3-1 away and 3-2 at home.

Neither side has previously managed to win three straight European games against the other, though.

Dortmund did memorably overcome Madrid en route to their last Champions League final in 2013, with Robert Lewandowski scoring all four goals in a 4-1 first-leg triumph before they held on in the second leg, a 2-0 defeat sending them through 4-3 on aggregate. 

However, BVB have only won three of their 14 previous Champions League meetings with Madrid overall, drawing five and losing six.  

Among teams they have faced at least five times in the competition, only against City (17 per cent) do they have a lower win percentage than versus Madrid (21 per cent).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Borussia Dortmund: Mats Hummels 

Dortmund have had to stand firm in the face of pressure en route to the final, and if they are to overcome the might of Madrid, another solid rearguard action will be required.

Hummels has not missed a single minute of Champions League football this season, and he could become the first outfielder to be ever-present for the eventual winners since Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid in 2017-18.

Like departing team-mate Reus, he could appear in his second Champions League final 11 years on from his first. Juventus icon Gianluigi Buffon (12 years between 2003 and 2015) was the last player to appear in two showpiece games with a longer wait between them.

Real Madrid: Jude Bellingham

Who else but former Dortmund star Bellingham?

The England international has earned a reputation as a player for the big occasions this season, and few would bet against him having a decisive impact against his old club at Wembley.

He has created more chances while under pressure (19) than any other midfielder in this season's Champions League, with four of those resulting in assists. The only player to provide more assists while under pressure from at least one opposition player in the 2023-24 tournament is Dortmund's Marcel Sabitzer (five).

Just as importantly, Bellingham never shirks his off-the-ball work. He has made the most high-intensity pressures of any player in the 2023-24 Champions League overall (572) and in the knockout stages specifically (344).

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