Borussia Dortmund title would beat ANYTHING Jude Bellingham does at Real Madrid
For a long time this year, Borussia Dortmund’s last game of the season, at home against Mainz on Saturday, seemed to be special because it would be Jude Bellingham’s farewell.
The football gods had other ideas and now it seems to be special for a much more important reason: Dortmund is about to win the Bundesliga.
Hardly anyone believed that Bayern would stumble in the race to the finish line. Thomas Tuchel was seen as a safe pair of hands after Julian Nagelsmann was sacked following a mid-March defeat at Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen.
And when Bayern led 3-0 against Dortmund on 23 minutes in Tuchel’s first game in charge, it was on the Westfalenstadion’s famous yellow wall: it will be them again – for the eleventh season in a row.
Now, with 90 minutes to play, Dortmund just need to ‘win again’, in the words of their sporting director, Sebastian Kehl. Mainz have only won two of their past 10, but those wins came against Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, so they’ve shown they are capable of reaching another level against better teams.
For a long time this year, Borussia Dortmund’s last game of the season, Saturday at home against Mainz, seemed special as it would be a farewell to Jude Bellingham (above)
But now it could be the game that gives Dortmund an unlikely Bundesliga championship title
Dortmund received more than 300,000 ticket applications for the 80,000 capacity venue
However, there will be no complacency from Dortmund, and if they win, they won’t even have to check the score in Bayern’s match in Cologne. They may even get a boost from Bellingham’s return. The England international missed last week’s trip to Augsburg with a knee problem, but should play a part on Saturday.
The 19-year-old, with eight goals from midfield, is one of the stars of this potentially title-winning season, whatever role he plays on the final day, but there are so many other stories behind a remarkable campaign.
Sebastien Haller wins the league just one year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was signed from Ajax along with Karim Adeyemi last summer as the club did their best to wisely reinvest the money they received from Manchester City in Erling Haaland.
Replacing the Norwegian was always going to be a two-man job and Haller’s health problems meant he missed the first half of the season.
Adeyemi has weighed in with nine goals in 19 starts, but it’s the nine in 14 starts for Haller since his return from the World Cup break that have really pushed Dortmund over the line.
Then there’s head coach Edin Terzic, who is only 40 and grew up with Dortmund as a fan. And his sporting director Kehl, who is only three years older and won the title three times with Dortmund as a player.
This is a young project that will be partially cut short in the summer by Bellingham’s departure.
Real Madrid have had to wait for the end of the Bundesliga season before finalizing their negotiations on a player who came through Birmingham City’s youth ranks. They have told the German club that they do not want to pay more than 100 million euros.
Bellingham is on the verge of a massive transfer this summer alongside Spanish giants Real Madrid
Dortmund’s valuation is closer to €140m (£122m), but the difference will be split in the form of add-ons and bonuses when negotiations resume.
Before Bellingham goes to a ‘Galactico’ presentation at the Bernabeu in front of some 60,000 spectators, he will first enjoy his moment at the summit in Germany.
The club’s 80,000-story Signal Iduna Park could have sold out three times, with Dortmund receiving 300,000 requests for tickets for today’s game, and Borsigplatz, where trophies are celebrated, is set for a celebration tomorrow.
The hardest triumphs are always the sweetest.
Despite everything he achieved after that, Sir Alex Ferguson’s greatest managerial achievement was building an Aberdeen side that won a European final over Real Madrid.
Likewise, he won plenty of silverware after that, but nothing will ever match Jose Mourinho’s Champions League win with Porto in 2004.
Bellingham is going to win a cupboard full of medals at Real Madrid.
But what he is about to do at Borussia Dortmund will be hard to top during his club career.
Vinicius is the real victim, forget the petty squabbles
Vinicius Junior will not play in Real Madrid’s last away game this season, at Sevilla, as he was left out of the squad with a knee problem.
It comes at the end of a week in which he has taken a level of responsibility well beyond his 22 years to stand up to racism.
He will now watch with interest and probably some skepticism what happens next. It felt like a watershed moment in Spain this week, but the self-interest of those dominating the debate still slows progress.
Valencia wants to take the brunt of the partial closure of five games (already reduced to three on appeal).
While Real have used the situation to complain about referees, and other clubs have criticized Real after Vinicius’ red card was withdrawn.
If tribalism wins, the fight against racism cannot.
If you really want football to be a sacred space where the prejudices that ruin so many people’s lives outside the sport can never gain a foothold, speak up about it.
If you’re just hitting your own drum, pipe down.
Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior (centre) is the real victim in Spain’s latest racism spat
Little to celebrate at PSG’s party
PSG will win Ligue 1 tonight if they take a point in Strasbourg. And then the party can begin. Just kidding.
Which parties? It’s another gleeful domestic triumph in the shadow of Kylian Mbappé’s likely 2024 departure and Operation Get Rid Of Neymar.
And it will almost immediately give way to the real business of preparing for next season, starting with the resignation of coach Christophe Galtier.
Jose Mourinho remains the favorite for the job, but Luis Enrique is still available, while highly regarded former River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo is also poised to embark on a European managerial career.
Napoli are also looking for a new coach, Luciano Spalletti wants a sabbatical and Roma expect to lose Mourinho, so need a replacement too.
Nothing stays the same for long, even at clubs where silverware has been won.
Elsewhere, at least, a little bit of success can still be enjoyed before the revolving door starts to turn.
Do they have that in Paris?
While there is little to celebrate at the party of the likely future French champion Paris Saint-Germain
When Spain won Euro 2012 – their third title in a row – by beating Italy 4-0 in the final, they were lined up without a number 9 and charged into center forward to score the second goal was Jordi Alba.
The Barcelona left-back announced this week that he would be leaving the club after 11 seasons.
He will almost certainly accept Saudi Arabia’s retirement package, with Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi likely to join him.
It was Messi who was one of the first to pay tribute to him and no wonder – Alba was Messi’s biggest ally on the field with 23 assists.
Barca have lost their best attacking left-back ever, although everything we’ve seen from 19-year-old Alejandro Balde suggests they have a more than adequate replacement.