Why Gregor Kobel's heroics at Borussia Dortmund are a bad sign for their Champions League final chances against Real Madrid

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Despite finishing fifth in the Bundesliga, against all expectations, Borussia Dortmund the chance to win their first Champions League title since 1997 on Saturday. Black and Yellow will face off against each other Real Madrid team in the hunt for a 15th Champions League title, but the status of a team has not brought the German club into the tournament so far and it will not happen now. When we examine how Dortmund were able to defy the odds, one of the main reasons was the goalkeeper Gregor Kobelwho helped keep PSG goalless through two semi-finals.

“It seems like we feel comfortable in that situation [as underdogs] but I don't think it really matters to us as a team whether we are considered the underdog or not. We have built a lot of confidence during this Champions League campaign,” Kobel told CBS Sports Golazo Network ahead of the Champions League final. “We have beaten a lot of good teams and we have shown that we can beat any opponent that is in front of us . us and with this confidence we will also face Saturday's match.”

The Swiss goalkeeper has been in great form this season, leading all goalkeepers in saves with 42 and zero with six. Despite Paris Saint-Germain produced numerous attacks during their knockout matches against Dortmund, Kobel was able to shut them down to secure a place in the final. Real Madrid's Andriy Lunin's 38 saves are third behind Kobel, but no goalkeeper has prevented more than Kobel's 7.09 goals in the Champions League. Lunin does reach the top 10 with 2.12 goals prevented, but that still shows the difference between the duo.

Kobel is enjoying one of the most impressive Champions League campaigns since likely starter for Los Blancos, Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian has struggled with injuries this season, meaning Lunin has featured in most of Madrid's Champions League matches. After recovering from an ACL tear ahead of schedule, Courtois subsequently tore the meniscus in his knee, sidelining him until early May. Courtois has now played 333 minutes of La Liga football to end the season without conceding a goal and is now in good shape for what could be quite a battle between the goalkeepers.

Andre Onana has had the best season for a goalkeeper since 2019/20 with goals that did not lead Inter to a Champions League final, which they lost to Manchester city last year, but the only goalkeeper to have more than one season to reach the top 10 in that period is the Belgian between the sticks for Real Madrid.

But his presence on this list has not been a good thing, as both seasons in which he cracked the list were seasons in which Real Madrid failed to win the Champions League title. In fact, no goalkeeper on this list has actually won the Champions League title in the season in which they were in the top 10, which could spell doom for Borussia Dortmund.

Goals prevented per UCL campaign since 2019-2020

1

Andre Onana

below

2022-23

7.84

2

Gregor Kobel

Borussia Dortmund

2023-24

7.09*

3

Odysseas Vlachodimos

Benfica

2021-22

6.42

4

Dominik Livakovic

Dinamo Zagreb

2019-20

6.14

5

Thibaut Courtois

Real Madrid

2022-23

5.85

6

Manuel Neuer

Bayern Munich

2020-21

5.37

7

Nick Pope

Newcastle United

2023-24

4.86

8

Simon Mignolet

Club Brugge

2022-23

4.78

9

Thibaut Courtois

Real Madrid

2020-21

4.63

10

Anthony Racippi

Young boys

2023-24

4.53

While it makes sense that goalkeepers under too much pressure rarely win the Champions League final, Borussia Dortmund would be the perfect team to break that. They have defied expectations every step of the way during their Champions League run, but with one of the best goalkeepers in competition history standing at the other end of the pitch, Kobel will need to be on his game and still have some Courtois to beat in the finale.

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