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Highlights and context: Weidenfeller’s early saves look pretty big now

Apr 30, 2013, 6:01 PM EDT

He isn’t one of the first names you think of when Borussia Dortmund come to mind, yet as his team got off to a slow start at the Santiago Bernabéu, goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller stepped up. As you’ll see at the beginning of this highlights package, courtesy of FOX Soccer, two big saves within the match’s first 20 minutes kept Real Madrid from building any early momentum.

Within the ranks of German goalkeepers, Weidenfeller’s respected though not necessarily highly regarded. He’s 32. He doesn’t have a national team camp, and among the five goalkeepers in the picture for national team callups, his name is unsurprisingly absent. He’s a solid guy, but by no means is he one of the league’s best.

That means these games — tonight’s at the Bernabeu and next month’s at Wembley — are the biggest of his career, and tonight, as Borussia Dortmund sat back, shunned last week’s proactive approach, and let Real Madrid dictate the game, it fell on Weidenfeller to maintain Dortmund’s advantage.

And he did. A big stop on Gonzalo Higuaín. Huge save on Cristiano Ronaldo. Pressuing a Mesut Ozil shot wide. Weindenfeller was stellar.

[MORE: Late charge not enough for Real Madrid]

Because of their off-field dramas, there’s been a lot of focus on Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze. Marco Reus will always garner attention, and the continued fascination with Mats Hummels means the erratic rear-guard will always be a focus of discussion.

But on their way to Wembley, it’s nice to see one of Dortmund’s supporting cast get a moment in the sun. Tonight, Weidenfeller played a starring role.

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