The UEFA Champions League is the biggest and most prestigious club competition in Europe and, some may even argue, the world. Reaching the final of such a tournament is the highlight of some players’ careers and it is a moment that fans will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Some clubs reach that stage of the competition once. Other seem to get there every other year. It is a unique occasion that causes people to gather and experience the best of European club football.
Here are five Champions League finals that every football fan should be rewatching during the lockdown!
5 – Real Madrid CF 2-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2001/2002)
This game’s iconic status relies mainly on a single moment – Zinedine Zidane’s amazing left footed-volley right before halftime to give Real Madrid the lead.
Led by Michael Ballack, Bayer Leverkusen had produced an amazing run to reach the final. However, and to Balack’s pain, this was the beginning of his “curse” as he never won a final in his professional football career.
4 – FC Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal FC (2005/2006)
Arsenal had been crowned the Invincibles the previous season and led by Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Cesc Fàbregas, they were able to reach the coveted Champions League final. Still, to get to the trophy they had to get through Ronaldinho’s FC Barcelona.
In a team full of talented players like Ronaldinho, Xavi or Iniesta, goals from Eto’o and Belletti within five minutes were enough to crumble Arsenal’s hopes of reaching European glory.
3 – FC Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United FC (2010/2011)
Manchester United had fought their way to the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. After losing to this same Barcelona two years earlier, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men were looking for revenge.
However, Pep Guardiola, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Puyol, Piqué and company had other plans. In the height of Catalan and Spanish ‘tiki-taka’ football, Barcelona was able to secure their second Champions League win in three years.
2 – Manchester United FC 2-1 FC Bayer Munich (1998/1999)
The year of the treble. In the mythical Camp Nou in Barcelona, Manchester United was able to pull one of the biggest comebacks in European football history by scoring two goals in added time in a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Bayern Munich. It was the climax of a historic season for United, as they also won the Premier League and FA Cup.
1 – Liverpool FC 3-3 AC Milan (2004/2005)
Perhaps the most iconic Champions League final ever. Against a historically great Milan team led by Carlo Ancelotti and with players such as Káká, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Hérnan Crespo or Andriy Shevchenko, Liverpool found themselves 3-0 down at halftime.
Goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso made it 3-3 and took the Reds to penalties where Jerzy Dudek rose as the unlikely hero, stoping three kicks and winning Liverpool their first Champions League win since 1984!