UEFA Champions League Final: Best Bets for Borussia Dortmund-Real Madrid

Borussia Dortmund is the underdog, but they've been strong defensively — can they take down Real Madrid?

May 28, 2024

The Champions League kicked off last September, when 32 hopeful teams began a long journey to be named the best club team in European soccer for the 2023-2024 season. Nearly nine months later, either Germany’s Borussia Dortmund or Spain’s Real Madrid will claim that title, as they’re set to square off in the Champions League Final on Saturday at 3:00 pm ET at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Before we jump into what we’re likely to see and a prediction for the matchup, let’s take a look back at how each team got here.

The Path to Wembley

Borussia Dortmund finished second in the Bundesliga in the 2022-23 season, which automatically punched their ticket to the group stage of the Champions League. They were placed in Group F, which was arguably the “group of death,” but used strong defensive work to top PSG, Newcastle and AC Milan, taking only one loss in a double round-robin format.

After getting past PSV Eindhoven with relative ease in the Round of 16, Dortmund got everything they could handle from Atletico Madrid in the quarterfinals. However, Dortmund netted a key goal away from home in the 81st minute in the first leg of that matchup to set themselves up with a chance in the second leg. Instead of squeaking by, they put on a show and convincingly found the back of the net four times to advance and face PSG — a rematch from the group stage — in the semis. After enduring a loss and draw against the French side earlier in the tournament, it would have been reasonable for Dortmund fans to have some apprehension, though the German club made the needed adjustments to topple PSG 2-0 in aggregate.

Real Madrid similarly finished second in La Liga in 2022-23, though they had a much cleaner draw to begin their Champions League journey than their counterparts in the final. They dominated Group C with a 6-0-0 record, ambushing Napoli, Braga and Union Berlin with 16 goals.

Thanks to that domination, they drew RB Leipzig in the Round of 16, a team they easily out-class on paper, and were able to secure a 1-0 victory in Germany before tying at home to advance relatively comfortably. After that, Real Madrid faced the powerhouse names we’d expect from this tournament.

In the quarterfinals, they faced Manchester City. They were dominated in possession and scoring chances but used an early goal in the second leg to push their way to penalty kicks on a 4-4 aggregate tie. After a 4-3 win in the shootout, Madrid went on to face Bayern Munich in the semis and made one of the more remarkable comebacks in the tournament in recent memory.  Down 3-2 on aggregate with less than three minutes in full time, Madrid found the back of the net in the 88th minute and once again in stoppage time to send Bayern Munich home in heartbreaking fashion while also denying an all-German final.

What to Expect Saturday

While it requires some fortune to get this far in such a prestigious tournament, both teams are deserving of their current position. Madrid has reached the final primarily due to their offensive firepower. While plenty of that came in the group stage, they are second to only Manchester City in goals scored for the tournament, albeit with two additional games played. However, they’ve been equally leaky along the back line, tallying only three clean sheets in their 12 games.

On the surface, that sets things up interestingly, as Dortmund’s strength lies with their ability to prevent goals due to the elite combination of sturdy defender Mats Hummels and keeper Gregor Kobel. They lead the tournament with six clean sheets and any number of defensive categories such as clearances, tackles, and tackles won.

That suggests this will be a game where each side relies on their strength, with Madrid controlling the flow of the game and Dortmund patiently awaiting the perfect time to counter. Things may not be that simple, however, as Dortmund could come out aggressively in the hopes of springing an early goal before settling into a more defensive mindset – especially given Madrid’s vulnerability along the back line.

Prediction and Best Bets

Real Madrid is a heavy favorite in the market and the public will probably side with them due to their name recognition. It’s admittedly a risky position, but I like the way Dortmund has played heading into this matchup and I believe they’ll be able to score against Madrid.

Pick: 2-1 Dortmund

That leads us to some best bets:

  • Borussia Dortmund moneyline (+380); alternatively tie (+320)
  • Total goals – over 2.5 (-150)
  • Both teams to score – yes (-145)
  • First Goal – Borussia Dortmund (+170)

And a best bet parlay:

  • Dortmund moneyline and over 2.5 goals (+534)
Dale Weber
Dale began working at RotoWire in 2017 writing MLB game wraps. He now covers primarily MLB, NFL and racing, but also has experience writing in a wide range of sports, including MMA, golf and soccer.