Dortmund weather storm to sail into uncharted waters

Posted by Stephan Uersfeld

Wembley 2013! When the season started back in August it was beyond Dortmund's dreams. Wembley. The home of football, now hosting a club that has given football a lifeline. You might count me out for the pathos formula, but here is how it happened.

It begins with Real Madrid doing what they are supposed to do. The pressure on. Four corners within just ten minutes. Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller is the one to weather the storm. For a while. Fifteen minutes will be enough. Real are desperate to score, and they come close. It's Cape Horn.

- Rigg: La Decima disappears for another year for Madrid
- Delaney: Frantic finale fitting for Dortmund
- Press Pass: Dortmund seal Wembley date
- Real Madrid 2-0 Borussia Dortmund


Remontada (the comeback) - Angel di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo both denied. Several times. And slowly Dortmund take command of the game, the only battlefield being Robert Lewandowski's face for most of the first half. Instructions to foul the four-goal Pole, scourge of Madrid in the first leg, are carried out. Sergio Ramos having a go. Elbowing Lewandowski. And 10 minutes into the game Mario Goetze leaves, injured. He's the key to Dortmund's game, keeping control. But in comes Kevin Grosskreutz, the local guy.

After 20 minutes, Real have not managed to score the goal they greatly desire and things changed. For a while. And Dortmund have weathered the storm. For a while. Without Goetze and with Real still trying to secure that goal to lead them towards Remontada. For some 15 minutes Real had tried to sink to Dortmund. And they nearly managed to do so. But Weidenfeller was there.

What must it have been like for the Borussia lads from Dover? Who have been there since the dull days of Thomas Doll? Now travelling to see every Dortmund game this season. And going into the game 4-1 was all that mattered. Picking up a call saying the extent of the fall might be too much to take, but in Madrid nobody cared about the fall. Half-time in Madrid. 8-1 to Germany. And no way for Dortmund to fail.

"It ain't over 'til it's over," Rocky Balboa once said, and during the second half Borussia Dortmund did all they could do to not prove Balboa wrong. Ilkay Gundogan missed a sitter, Lewandowski hit the crossbar and then failed to put a good chance past Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

The Real Madrid storm appeared to quell and finally it was time to think about going to London. Dortmund had seemingly sailed safely around the shores of Cape Horn, the struggles of passing through unknown waters long gone. Dortmund had made it to the final without even struggling. Unbeaten and proving to the world that the Young Guns can certainly do a job.

Two years ago, when Dortmund were rushing towards the first Bundesliga title, not even those in Germany knew what the team was capable of.

I could go on about this forever. I could mention the Dortmund fans in Madrid, I could write about the two goals that made the life of every Dortmund fan miserable. I could talk about how Gundogan was everywhere and Mats Hummels enjoyed one of the games that will continue to make him one of Europe's best centre-backs.

But on this night, why should I? You will read about Real nearly, nearly, nearly coming back from the 4-1 from the first leg. And, hell yeah, they came close to it. But close to something is never enough, and Borussia's story continues.

The storm, after sailing through safe waters, picked up again. Eighty-two minutes in, Karim Benzema scored and three minutes from time Ramos doubled it. Spain to gain revenge after all? Dortmund defended desperately and Borussia fans all over the world fell silent for a minute. Malaga. A repeat? This is football, but not the way it is supposed to be.

It never happened. Marco Reus took the ball into the Madrid half and after a long six minutes of injury time Dortmund were through. Into the final. At Wembley. The weirdest thing to happen to die Schwarzgelben in a while. Starting from pot 4, drawn into the Group of Death, topping that group, and, as underdogs, going all the way to the Champions League final.

After 96 minutes, finally, Howard Webb ended the game. Real had edged close to Remontada, but not close enough. From pot 4, from obscurity, Borussia Dortmund have made their name in Europe during the past few months.

With an all-German final more than just possible, die Schwarzgelben are en route to destroy Bayern Munich's season. A record-breaking season in Bundesliga and elsewhere for die Roten. But by beating Bayern, Borussia Dortmund could, once and for all, become the best team in Europe.

And could there be a better way to introduce yourself as the most obnoxious rival than winning the Champions League in London? Dortmund have sailed past Cape Horn for a second time and they are looking forward to yet another cruise on May 25.

ESPN Conversations