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What to look out for in the Champions League final

A fairy-tale ending, an all-English sub-plot and a stack of potential landmarks are all talking points ahead of the UEFA Champions League final.

Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, Marco Reus and Luka Modrić
Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham, Marco Reus and Luka Modrić

Wembley Stadium has witnessed some of the greatest moments in European football history down the years and you can guarantee more will be added to that catalogue on 1 June.

Here are some key talking points ahead of the UEFA Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.

Final build-up

Perfect ending for Reus or Kroos?

After 12 years and 428 first-team appearances for his boyhood club, Marco Reus is calling time on his Dortmund career at the end of the season. The attacking midfielder – who coach Edin Terzić recently described as a "living legend" – went on to establish himself as one of the finest players to grace the Bundesliga after rejoining BVB from Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012, registering 170 goals and 131 assists for Die Schwarz-Gelben as well as lifting the German Cup on two occasions.

For Madrid's Toni Kroos this will be the last game of his club career, following his decision to retire after UEFA EURO 2024. The four-time Champions League winner became only the seventh player to reach 150 games in the competition in the semi-final second leg against Bayern and, in announcing his retirement, said: "My ambition was always to finish my career at the peak of my performance level." Which icon's dream will come true when they bring down their respective curtains in London?

Füllkrug: 'It'll be an amazing day'

English pair go head to head

Jude Bellingham's first season in Madrid following his switch from Dortmund has been nothing short of remarkable. The 20-year-old scored 24 goals in 132 games for BVB but has racked up an astonishing 23 in only 40 matches in Spain as the Merengues eased to the La Liga title and this final. At Wembley Stadium, he will come face to face with the last English starlet touted for such stardom.

Jadon Sancho is now 24 and in his second spell at Dortmund, having plundered 50 goals in his last three full seasons at BVB before heading to Manchester United. The fleet-footed winger's time at Old Trafford did 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 has succeeded him as English football's greatest hope for the future.

Ancelotti looking to extend record

Josep Guardiola, Bob Paisley and Zinédine Zidane have all won this competition three times as a coach. But even those exalted names are put in the shade by Carlo Ancelotti, whose four victories – two with AC Milan and two with Madrid – are unmatched. Also a two-time 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.

Reflecting on their progress to the final, Ancelotti has remained as humble as ever and given the credit to his players. “I'm really grateful to them because they worked really hard, there has been a fantastic atmosphere," he said. "They are really humble, really generous. I think it's the best squad that I've ever had in my career." With that glowing reference of his players, few would bet against Ancelotti extending his record number of successes in this competition to five.

Modrić, Carvajal, Güler and Özcan eyeing landmarks

Ancelotti is not the only man with a milestone on his mind at Wembley Stadium though, as two of his players could etch their own names into the record books should Madrid scoop the silverware again. Luka Modrić and Dani Carvajal are the men in question, as the pair could join Madrid 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 while Toni Kroos could feature in a fifth showpiece victory. At the other end of the scale, Madrid's Arda Güler and Dortmund's Salih Özcan will be hoping to play a part in a victory for their clubs and seal their place as the first Turkish player to win the competition.

Hummels: 'Real Madrid don't get nervous'

Goals guaranteed?

These sides will lock horns for the 15th time in European club competition and history suggests this meeting with be high on entertainment and goals. The previous 14 contests between them have produced an eyebrow-raising 43 goals – an average of 3.07 goals per game. The most recent four matches have spawned 17 of those, with each of those games featuring at least four goals.

A free-scoring encounter would buck the recent trend in the decider; the last four finals have all ended 1-0. In fact, you have to go back to Madrid's 3-1 win against Liverpool in 2018 for the last time the final featured more than two goals or both teams scoring. Good news for the neutral but perhaps some frayed nerves for fans of the two participants!

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