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Champions League final odds: Borussia Dortmund 5/2 for second European crown

Borussia Dortmund’s collision with the mighty Real Madrid in the 2024 Champions League final at Wembley will mark 27 years since the Black and Yellows' most famous triumph.

Champions League Final

May 1997, in the backyard of their biggest rivals Bayern Munich, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Dortmund defied all the odds to overcome a fancied Juventus side and claim their first Champions League title.

Prevailing 3-1 at the Olympiastadion in Munich, a spirited Dortmund outfit skippered by German great Matthias Sammer were able to change the course of the club’s storied history.

As this latest Dortmund team attempt to complete their own fairytale against 14-time Champions League winners Real Madrid at Wembley, we look back on the Class of ‘97’s night of greatness in Munich.

The build-up: Familiar foes

The meeting of Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in the 1997 Champions League final would pair two teams who had become accustomed to crossing paths with each other in European competition.

A repeat of the 1993 UEFA Cup final, in which Juventus romped to a 6-1 triumph across two legs, the Old Lady would also prevail over BVB in the semi-finals of Europe’s secondary club competition in 1995/96, before the pair both won one match apiece in the group stages of the Champions League the following year.

The sub-plots in the build up to the 1997 Munich final did not end there.

The two German members of the Juventus team which overcame Dortmund in the 1993 UEFA Cup final – Jurgen Kohler and Andreas Moller – were now integral members of the BVB ranks.

Kohler and Moller were not the only two ex-Juventus players to line up against their former employers in Munich either, with Stefan Reuter and Paulo Sousa also forming part of Hitzfeld’s starting lineup.

To say the two teams were familiar with one another was therefore an understatement, with Juventus certainly holding the upper hand as far as recent meetings were concerned.

Marcello Lippi’s Juventus were hot favourites to beat Dortmund in the 1997 Champions League final, as reigning winners of the competition having beaten Ajax on penalties in the final in Rome 12 months previously.

Adding Alen Boskic and Christian Vieri from Lazio and Atalanta respectively to bolster their attack the previous summer, as well as a French attacking midfielder by the name of Zinedine Zidane from Bordeaux, Juve were crowned Serie A winners in 1996/97.

Although Juventus were strongly fancied to retain their Champions League title, their final opponents Dortmund were no mugs, having knocked out Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in the semi-finals and won the Bundesliga in the two previous seasons.

Italian champions Juve had a starry line-up of box office names – Zidane, Deschamps, Vieri et al. – but BVB themselves had five Euros winners from the previous summer in their midst – Messrs Sammer, Kohler, Reuter, Freund and Moller.

A battle between Italian style and German efficiency lay in store in Munich.

Dortmund dare to dream

The 59,000 capacity crowd present at Munich’s Olympiastadion, half kitted out in black and yellow and the other side black and white, provided the backdrop of a classic European final between two continental giants.

Favourites Juve lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond, with Didier Deschamps sat in front of the defence and compatriot Zinedine Zidane in a number 10 position, whilst Alen Boskic and Christian Vieri led the line.

Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Dortmund set up in a 3-4-1-2 system utilising Germany internationals Stefan Reuter and Jorg Heinrich as wing-backs on either flank, with the influential Andreas Moller in behind front two Stephane Chapuisat and Karl-Heinz Riedle in attack.

Italian champions Juventus would start the 1997 final on the front foot, with the magisterial Zidane getting plenty of touches in midfield and the Old Lady bossing the ball.

Juve’s early dominance prompted some on-pitch management from Dortmund midfield duo Paul Lambert and Paulo Sousa, with the pair deciding to switch sides in the engine room to allow the Scotsman to pay closer attention to Juve talisman Zidane.

This tactical tweak would prove pivotal as the final progressed, with former St Mirren and Motherwell midfielder Lambert successfully limiting Zidane’s impact on the showpiece.

Although primarily entrusted with holding Dortmund’s midfield together and man marking Zidane, it was Scotland international Lambert, signed on a free transfer following a successful trial period the previous summer, who provided the telling assist for the 1997 final’s opening goal.

Following an in-swinging corner from the left from Moller, Lambert followed manager Hitzfeld’s pre-match instruction to target the Juventus defence with diagonal balls, with the Glaswegian sending in a cross to the back post where the clinical Riedle was on hand to blast Dortmund ahead in the 29th minute.

With their tails up and the ardent Dortmund support in the stadium in delirium, Dortmund would go for the throats of a stunned Juventus side – doubling their advantage through Riedle again just five minutes later.

Once more it was a Moller corner from the left which was the Italians’ undoing, with ex-Lazio hitman Riedle – nicknamed ‘Air’ for his aerial prowess – bulleting a header past helpless Juve skipper Angelo Peruzzi in goal.

Shell-shocked and in need of new inspiration to turn the 1997 final’s tide and rescue their hopes of retaining their Champions League trophy, Juve boss Lippi turned to 22-year-old Alessandro Del Piero, with the talented forward replacing full-back Sergio Porrini as a half-time substitute.

The introduction of the technically gifted Del Piero – who had notched 15 goals in a breakout campaign in 1995/96 – helped to galvanise Juve in the second period.

It was the Juventus academy graduate who would halve the deficit in the final on 65 minutes, applying a deft flick beyond Stefan Klos in the Dortmund goal following some neat work from Boksic down the left.

With 25 minutes still to play it was all to play for in Munich, and as history transpired, Italian international Del Piero would not be the only substitute to make a significant impact in the 1997 final…

Record-breaker Ricken

Two weeks after his involvement in the final was threatened after he hurt himself in a motorbike accident, 20-year-old Dortmund academy graduate Lars Ricken readied himself on the substitutes’ bench – eager for an opportunity to make an impact on the biggest stage of club football.

His chance would arrive in the 70th minute, with Dortmund manager Hitzfeld challenging Ricken to go on and score the final’s decisive goal.

Attacking midfielder Ricken had delivered a number of vital moments for BVB in their 1996/97 Champions League campaign, netting in both the quarter-finals against Auxerre and at Old Trafford versus Man Utd.

His most pivotal goal would arrive in the Munich showpiece, however.

Barely had Ricken got his bearings on the field when he found himself racing through on goal.

Collecting a pinpoint through ball from Moller in behind a loose Juve defence clearly yet to familiarise themselves with Ricken’s surroundings, the sprightly substitute looked up to see Juve goalkeeper and captain Peruzzi well off his line.

Ricken's mind was made up, lifting a perfect chipped effort over Peruzzi's head and into the back of the net to send the Dortmund support inside the Olympiastadion into raptures.

The hometown hero lost himself in celebration, racing down the touchline to embrace with his teammates and manager Hitzfeld.

Not only is Ricken's goal the fastest from a substitute in Champions League final history - notching just 16 seconds after entering the field - its quality marks it out as one of the most iconic efforts in this illustrious fixture ever.

The hometown hero later revealed the most famous goal in Dortmund's history was plotted during the 70 minutes he spent on the substitutes' bench in the final, having clocked that Peruzzi was positioning himself far from his goal line.

The situation for Ricken to exploit Peruzzi's positioning just happened to present itself, in a goal that would define his career in the sport.

If the story of Ricken's finest hour was not compelling enough, the Dortmund matchwinner was also serving in the German army barracks at the time, and required permission for time off to compete in the Champions League final.

Receiving 16 international caps during his career, Ricken recounted that the army barracks wanted him to spend three days in military prison ahead of the final after breaking disciplinary rules, with the German instead having to work a number of extra night shifts after being crowned a European champion.

Ricken and his teammates' achievements in Munich may not have fully registered until they returned to Dortmund, where they were serenaded by a sea of black and yellow comprised of 600,000 jubilant supporters.

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