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Dortmund bank on solid defence, quick transitions against Real

Dortmund bank on solid defence, quick transitions against Real

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Dortmund bank on solid defence, quick transitions against Real

Borussia Dortmund are clear underdogs in the Champions League final against 14-time winners Real Madrid but the Germans’ surprise European run this season has been in sharp contrast to their rollercoaster domestic campaigns.

Edin Terzic’s Dortmund, bidding for their second Champions League title after their 1997 triumph, finished a disappointing fifth in the Bundesliga.

They have, however, been far more consistent in Europe despite having 10% less possession in the Champions League than in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund kept six clean sheets in 12 Champions League matches this season, counting on a strong defence and quick breaks.

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These clean sheets included both semi-final legs against Paris St Germain with Dortmund winning 2-0 on aggregate.

Terzic has set up his team in Europe with, at times, five defenders, providing a solid backline as the foundation of their game.
Central defenders Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck have been in spectacular form in recent months and the latter was included in Germany’s Euro 2024 squad.

That will be key for Dortmund along with quick transitions provided by speedy wingers Jadon Sancho and Karim Adeyemi trying to stretch the Real defence.

Their pace down the wings will be crucial in Dortmund’s counter-attacks, knowing that Real will have a bigger share of possession and the Germans will wait to carve out chances on the break.

Terzic hopes Adeyemi and Sancho can open up space for centre Niclas Fuellkrug, Dortmund’s best striker in the competition this season with three goals.

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Fuellkrug’s role, however, is far from just scoring, with the burly Germany forward often dragging opponents with him and allowing team mates opportunities.

It comes as no surprise that 12 different Dortmund players have scored at least one goal in the Champions League this season.

“I say ‘don’t play the occasion, play the game’,” Terzic said. “My aim is not to try out new things or to overcoach. But to use the experiences we made this season and say which experience fits this game.

“For the lineup we still have some training session to see who will prove themselves. But we know that our substitutions can have an influence,” he said.

Among those likely to be on the bench but expected to come on is departing veteran Marco Reus.

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“It will not be good enough to have a starting lineup and hope the lads will do it. In this game we have to count on the entire quality of the full squad,” Terzic said.

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Former Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic is joining Hajduk Split after Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab terminated his contract by mutual consent following a six-month spell.

The 36-year-old scored once in eight games after joining Al-Shabab in January 2024 as they finished eighth on 52 points.

“The club management agreed with the Croatian player Ivan Rakitic to terminate the contractual relationship between the two parties by mutual consent,” the Saudi club posted on the X social media platform.

Hajduk Split on Sunday announced the signing of the former Barcelona and Sevilla midfielder for one season with the option of an extra year in what will be his first campaign in Croatia.

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Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland, played 106 games for Croatia, scoring 15 goals, and helped the country reach the World Cup final in 2018. 

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Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

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Croatia's Vida retires from international football

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has retired from international soccer after 14 years in the national team, the Croatian Football Federation said on Sunday.

Vida, 35, made his international debut in May 2010 and has played 105 matches for Croatia. He was part of the Croatia side that reached the final of World Cup 2018 and finished third in World Cup 2022.

“It is an honour to wear the most beautiful jersey in the world once in your career,” Vida said in a statement.

“And when you do it 105 times, you play in seven major competitions … then you can just be infinitely grateful for such a privilege.”

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Former Bayer Leverkusen and Besiktas player Vida currently plays for Greek top-flight club AEK Athens. 

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Sydney Collins will miss the Paris 2024 women’s soccer tournament after fracturing her left leg during a training game in her first match back after suffering a similar injury to her right leg earlier this year, Team Canada said on Saturday.

Gabrielle Carle will replace Collins in Canada’s Olympic squad, while Desiree Scott will take Carle’s spot as an alternate for the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, it said.

Collins sustained the injury on Thursday during a closed-door training match against Nigeria, her first since fracturing her right leg in February.

“Our hearts go out to Sydney during this difficult time. She has worked incredibly hard to return in time for Paris 2024, and while this is a setback, we know she will come back stronger,” said women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman.

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“She will be with us in spirit every step of the way.

“With the depth and resilience of our roster, it’s a next-player-up mentality, and both Gabby and Desiree’s experience will be invaluable to our team’s success.”

Canada will begin the defence of their Olympic title on July 25 against Group A opponents New Zealand. 

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