We review the 10 most epic Champions League finals, throughout its more than 60-year history.
The Champions League is the quintessential competition on the old continent and worldwide, in which the best teams in Europe come together to win the most coveted trophy for any team at the club level.
With a duration of almost a year (remember that its preliminary rounds already take place in the month of June) the long way to go to reach the final multiplies the value of the trophy, having to face, both in the group stage, as in life or death eliminatory, to the most powerful teams on Planet Earth.
Throughout its more than 60 years of history (if we count from the original foundation of the extinct ‘European Cup’, in 1955) we have been able to experience great qualifiers, comebacks (ask Real Madrid), and period matches, but, even with everything, the matches that remain to be remembered are the grand finals, in which the two best teams from the entire European continent face each other.
And finals, we have had something for all tastes: tight matches, big goals, and national and local derbies… so it is an arduous task to able to establish a classification that places the best. However, at FM we have decided to get down to business and be able to cite what we believe are the 10 best Champions League finals.
The 10 Best Champions League Finals
10. Borussia Dortmund 1 – Bayern Munich 2 (2013)
On a football level, it was not exactly the best of the matches, but Der Klassiker, or what is the same, the German Football Classic, deserved to have a presence on this list.
It is not customary for the final of ‘la Orejona’ to offer us great matches of maximum rivalry, but it is true that, from time to time, the fan opens up.
This was the case in the final between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in 2013, having done so with total deservedness, after eliminating Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in the semifinals. Dortmund thrashed Real Madrid (4-1) in the first leg, thanks to Robert Lewandowski’s famous ‘poker’, and at the Santiago Bernabéu, despite ending up falling 2-0, managed to get through to the final.
Much easier were the semi-finals for Bayern, in which they riddled Barça 7-0 on aggregate, also to remember.
Already in the final, the match was characterized by maximum equality in which the details of the cracks of the match were decided. After a goalless first half, although with a good handful of chances, Mario Mandzukic would open the can for the Bavarians; Gündogan equalizing the score thanks to a penalty committed on Marco Reus.
When the game seemed hopelessly doomed to extra time, Arjen Robben stood in front of the Dortman goalkeeper to beat him low, in semi-miss, after a backheel pass from Frank Ribery.
9. Bayern Munich 1 (3) – Chelsea 1 (4) (2012)
Just a year before, the Bavarian team starred in another final, which, moreover, had the honor of playing at home, the Allianz Arena. In front, Roberto di Matteo’s surprising Chelsea, who took charge of the London first team as caretaker manager and managed to reach the final with a very characteristic style of his own.
Also as happened the following season, the two finalists won a ticket for this match after eliminating Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, in the middle of the Mourinho-Guardiola war, a moment in which a large part of the Spanish press was already licking their lips thinking in a grand final between the two flagships of Spanish football.
However, in two tremendously tight qualifiers (Real Madrid fell on penalties, and Barcelona after Lionel Messi missed a penalty that meant qualification), the two Spanish teams were eliminated and got off the bus that was taking them to Munich.
It was a tremendously tight final, in which there were few chances and the goals came at the end of regulation time. Thomas Müller put Bayern ahead in his stadium already in the 82nd minute, and when everything seemed lost for Chelsea, a superb header from Didier Drogba, coming out of a corner taken by Juan Mata from Oviedo, equalized the score again, which would also reach the end of extra time.
On penalties, a great performance by Peter Cech gave Chelsea the first Champions League in its history, for which its owner, the Russian Roman Abramovich, had been longing for many years.
8. Manchester United 1 (6) – Chelsea 1 (5) (2008)
At a time when the Premier League reigned with an iron fist in the world football order, two of its teams managed to reach the decisive match, in what was the first final between two English clubs. Two great projects faced each other: on the one hand, the United of the great Cristiano Ronaldo, who despite his young age (23 years), was already running as the best footballer of the moment and the future Ballon d’Or.
And, on the other hand, the megalomaniac project of the aforementioned Roman Abramovich, who, 4 years after taking over the majority shareholding in Chelsea, managed to reach the final of the continental competition.
Thus, the match passed in absolute equality, with which the regulation time and the extra time ended. Before, Cristiano’s initial goal was repelled by another from a ‘blue’ idol, Frank Lampard. In the penalty shoot-out, Cristiano himself would miss his shot, although the error that has passed into the memory of all football fans, and especially the English, is the slip that caused the transcendental failure of John Terry, and that, at the same time, dessert, meant the achievement of the third Champions League for Manchester United.
7. Borussia Dortmund 3 – Juventus 1 (1997)
In one of the longest-running finals on this list, one of the biggest upsets ever seen in a Champions League final took place.
The ‘Vecchia signora’ landed in the final as huge favorites and reigning champions, at a footballing moment dominated by those of Piero, Nedved, Zidane, Deschamps, and company.
However, Dortmund, for whom it meant their first participation in a European Cup final, surpassed the Turinese at all times, whom they defeated with a Riedle brace and a great goal from Ricken, leaving the goal achieved by Alessandro worthless. of the Pier.
6. AC Milan 4 – FC Barcelona 0 (1994)
Match marked the end of the second-best Barça in history, the well-known ‘Dream Team’, while it was also Johan Cruyff’s last game as culé coach.
The Barcelona players had managed to reach two finals in the last three seasons (the first was the famous 1-0 victory against Sampdoria) with a unique and precious style of play that surprised both locals and strangers, and that was always kept as a treasure in Camp Barça, at least, until the arrival of the ‘Pep Team’.
Despite this, the final was a very hard setback for this period Barcelona, when they fell thrashed (4-0) against Capello’s Milan, who also had outstanding players for the time, such as Savicevic, Maldini, and Desailly. Thus, the truth is that Barça was not a rival for the Italian team, which passed over the Catalans as if it were a real roller.
5. FC Barcelona 2 – Manchester United 0 (2009)
Pep Guardiola’s first season as Barcelona coach, marked the beginning of an absolutely magical period for the Catalans, and which could not have had a better ending.
After having mathematically achieved the league title, having conquered the Copa del Rey (1-4, against Athletic Club) and having endorsed Real Madrid the famous 2-6, the Catalans arrived at the event in Rome as top favorites for the title, having shattered Olympique Lyonnais and Bayern Munich in the knockout stage, and having sealed a place in the final with Andrés Iniesta’s famous goal at Stamford Bridge.
However, facing Barça was Manchester United, the current champion of the competition, who also had the current Ballon d’Or, Cristiano Ronaldo, in their ranks.
Already in the game, despite the great start of the English, who managed to besiege Víctor Valdés’ goal in the first moments of the match, Samuel Eto’o’s early goal quickly tipped the balance in favor of the Barcelona fans, who, From this moment, they began to dance to the sound of the ball, as they had been customary throughout the football year.
After a long stretch of the game in which United never had a real chance, beyond the tight score, to tie the game; A superb cross from Xavi Hernández left Leo Messi alone in front of Van der Sar, whom he beat thanks to one of the best-headed goals in memory of the youth squad from Barcelona.
With the 2-0 also came one of the most iconic celebrations of the Argentine star, who, falling after the shot, lost one of his boots, which he would kiss in celebration of the goal. With the end of the game, Barça put the finishing touch to what is, more than probably, the best season in the history of the Catalan club.
4. Real Madrid 4 – Atletico Madrid 1 (2014)
The first of the two finals in Madrid that were played practically consecutively took place in Lisbon, meaning the long-awaited ‘Tenth’ European Cup for Real Madrid, which had been resisting the whites for 12 long years.
The two biggest teams from the city of Madrid faced each other in the final, after having eliminated Guardiola’s Bayern Munich and Mourinho’s Chelsea in the semifinals, in both cases, quite emphatically. Especially in the case of the meringues, who after 1-0 in the first leg, overwhelmed the Bavarians with headers in the second leg (0-4). On the mattress side, after Vicente Calderón’s 0-0 win, they managed to clearly prevail (1-3) over the ‘blues’ in the second leg.
The final match had an outcome that is well known throughout the world. After Atlético went ahead on the scoreboard, thanks to a header from Diego Godín, we reached the second part of the match, in which Real Madrid overwhelmed the colchoneros. And although Cholo’s men managed to resist until the end, Sergio Ramos ‘ eternal goal in the 93rd minute equalized the game to take it to extra time, where Madrid took advantage of athletic fatigue to end up thrashing their eternal rival (4- 1).
Real Madrid ended a season that was about to be the most important in the history of Atlético de Madrid, which did manage to win the league title, in the final moments of regulation time. For the whites, it is already a season that will be remembered until the end of days, as it meant the achievement of the maximum continental wound after 12 years of waiting.
3. FC Barcelona 3 – Manchester United 1 (2011)
Match that was, in the words of Ryan Giggs himself, “the most embarrassing match of his entire career” due to the incredible superiority of Barça. To the words of the Welshman, we must add those coined by the coach of the ‘red devils’, Sir Alex Ferguson, who stated that “they are the best team we have faced.
” And it is that Barcelona printed a thunderous superiority to its rival during the little more than 90 minutes that the game lasted. It didn’t matter that United managed to equalize Pedro’s opening goal, or that the final scoreboard only showed a two-goal difference; Barcelona passed well above Manchester United, and he could not do anything but applaud his rival at the end of the match.
In one of the most critical moments of the Guardiola-Mourinho war, the Blaugrana team appeared in the final after having eliminated the whites in the semis, thanks to the 3-1 aggregate with which they put the tie on track, above all, for the victory 0-2 at the Santiago Bernabéu, with a stellar goal from Leo Messi. Ferguson’s men did so after beating Schalke quite clearly in the semi-finals (4-1 overall).
In the final itself, after the 1-1 with which the break was reached, the goals of Messi and David Villa apparently did justice throughout the match, which could have meant a hard thrashing for United.
2. Manchester United 2 – Bayern Munich 1 (1999)
It is, without any doubt, one of the most incredible finals in memory, due to the unexpectedness of its final score. Two of the most important teams in the history of European football, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, met at Camp Nou to discover the new European champion.
Thus, the game turned very quickly for the Germans, who took the lead in the 5th minute, with a free-kick goal from Basler, beating Schmeichel. After a hard ‘give and take’ throughout the match, in which the Bavarian defense managed to prevail over the English, madness would come.
After 90 minutes, Sheringham, a United legend, picked up the second play in the Bayern area to establish equality on the scoreboard, after more than 85 long minutes of agony. When everything seemed headed for extra time, just 60 seconds later the net miracle would take place. In a center thrown by David Beckham, Solskjaer would again use the second play in the German area to come back from the match and establish the final 2-1, which served to give Manchester United the orejona.
1. Milan 3 – Liverpool 3 (2005)
By antonomasia and established world order, it is, without a doubt, the final of finals, when we talk about the Champions League. Starring two of the biggest teams on the old continent, it gave rise to an inexplicable madness that is still usually remembered today.
The Milan of the Cafú, Maldini, Kaká, Schevchenko… who had been European champion only two years before, appeared in the final as the clear favorite and with the firm intention of winning the Champions League again. On the other side of the draw came Rafa Benítez’s Liverpool, who had eliminated Chelsea in the semi-final with a ‘ghost goal’ from another Spaniard, Luis García.
Very soon, Milan showed their favoritism, as they managed to take the lead in minute 1 of the match, with a goal from Paolo Maldini. After this early goal, Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan managed to put together some great football, with which they completely dismantled the English, and thanks to which Hernán Crespo’s brace would arrive, with which the break would come. End of the first half and the transalpine team won 3-0. The Champions League seemed totally awarded for the Milanese.
However, after the restart, the well-known ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ took place, and Liverpool managed to equalize the match in just 6 minutes, which had elapsed since Gerrard’s first goal, in the 54th minute; until the tie, made by Xabi Alonso in the 60th minute of the game.
However, the ‘miraculous’ of Liverpool did not end here. Before the end, Traoré cleared a shot from Andriy Shevchenko almost to an empty goal, and Dudek made two ‘casillescas’ saves, stopping two shots from the Ukrainian striker on an empty goal, moments before the end of the match.
After a goalless extra time, Liverpool completed the ‘holy work’ and won the penalty shootout, winning the final 2-3 in which ‘Sheva’ missed again, Dudek having his shot.
These are the great finals disputed, to date, for the great crown of the European continent.