The continental extravaganza has produced some exceptional title-deciding games over the years.
The UEFA Champions League has long been the pinnacle of club football with teams from around Europe, vying for the coveted trophy year after year. The fame and glory that comes with winning this prestigious tournament has been known by previous few sides over the years.
The fierce competition that the champions league promotes has lead to some of sports’ greatest finals. From Zidane’s volley against Leverkusen to Bale’s bicycle kick against Liverpool, these famous fixtures are hardly loath for iconic moments, making them some of the greatest sporting spectacles of all time.
We at Khel Now bring you our list of the top five UEFA Champions League finals of all time.
5. Arsenal FC 1-2 FC Barcelona – 2005-06
Perhaps the closest that Arsenal have ever come to winning the Champions League was in 2006, when they found themselves locking horns with Barcelona in the final. Arsene Wenger had built one of the best Arsenal sides in recent history, with the likes of Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas in scintillating form coming into the match.
An early red card for Jen Lehmann did little to subdue the rampant gunners who found themselves in front at the break and deservedly so. However, the irresistible Catalans soon wore down the resolute Arsenal defence and scored twice to clinch one of the most hotly contested Champions League finals of all time.
4. Borussia Dortmund 1-2 FC Bayern Munich – 2012-13
Borussia Dortmund overcame Real Madrid in dramatic fashion in the semifinals of the 2013 Champions League while Bayern Munich thrashed Barcelona by an aggregate of seven goals to nil to set up an all-German final. Perhaps one of the most intriguing subplots of the match was the fact that a red-hot Mario Gotze was not included in the Dortmund starting lineup after he had agreed to join Bayern Munich the following season.
The team from Munich took the lead through Mario Mandzukic before they were pegged back by an Ilkay Gundogan penalty to bring the game level.
However, it was Arjen Robben that popped up, dancing through defenders to win the game late on in the contest to give their erstwhile manager Jupp Heynckes a fitting farewell with a treble to his name.
3. Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich – 1998-99
Manchester United were on course to complete a monumental treble of the League title, the FA Cup and the Champions League, a feat that had been accomplished by few sides in Europe. However, standing in their way was the monumental task of defeating Bayern Munich. The germans held the lead till the 91st minute, when David Beckham whipped in a corner that Teddy Sheringham bundled over the line to bring his side level.
Just two minutes later, a similar corner saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stab home from merely a yard out, forever imprinting the words “And Solskjaer has won it!”, in the minds of United fans the world over.
20 years later, Ole Solskjaer finds himself in the manager’s seat at United, hoping to bring back the days of glory in which he was so heavily involved.
2. Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (3-2P) – 2004-05
A Liverpool side that was struggling in the league found themselves involved in one of the most unpredictable Champions League finals of all time. The team from Merseyside conceded in just the first minute to Paulo Maldini before conceding twice more in quick succession to Hernan Crespo.
However, from a seemingly dire situation, Steven Gerrard’s men dragged themselves back with three goals in the second half and goalkeeping heroics from Jerzy Dudek to send the match into a penalty shootout which the Reds won. Without a doubt, one of the most bizarre Champions League finals of all time.
1. Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid – 2013-14
Real Madrid are by far and away the record winners of the great competition. But perhaps their most iconic title came in 2014, when they became the first side to claim 10 Champions Leagues. The match saw Real Madrid pitted against their bitter city rivals Atletico Madrid who stood firm as their final roadblock to ‘La Decima’.
The Rojablancos took the lead in the first half through Diego Godin and looked set to claim the title over their rivals. However, it was not to be. The Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos rose above the crowd from a corner in second half stoppage time to head the ball into the net, sending the game into extra time.
Real Madrid then proceeded to rip apart the Atletico defence with the likes of Bale and Cristano Ronaldo leading from the front.
This match remains one of the most dramatic and best contested finals of all time.