Champions League: Ranking the top 10 finals of all time

Ranking the top 10 Champions League Finals

With Liverpool set to face Real Madrid in the Champions League Final this weekend, football fans are gearing up for yet another exciting encounter on Europe’s most prestigious stage.

Since the European Cup was rebranded as the Champions League in 1992, there have been a number of brilliant finals between some of the best teams of all time.

The Women’s Champions League has also produced several highly-entertaining finals, including last weekend’s thriller between Lyon and Barcelona.

We take a trip down memory lane and rank the 10 top Champions League finals of all time.

10) Borussia Dortmund 3 – 1 Juventus, 1997

Juventus were the clear favourites heading into the 1997 Champions League Final. The defending champions, led by Marcello Lippi, boasted Zinedine Zidane, Vladimir Jugović and Didier Deschamps in their line-up.

Dortmund may have been the underdogs, but Karl-Heinz Reidle scored twice to give the German side a shock lead at half-time.

Juventus hit back through Alessandro Del Piero in the 65th minute, but Lars Ricken secured victory for Dortmund with a delectable chip just six minutes later. The result was one of the greatest upsets in a Champions League Final.

Scotland's Paul Lambert

9) Barcelona 2 – 1 Arsenal, 2006

To the horror of Arsenal fans, goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off in just the 18th minute of his side’s Champions League Final clash against Barcelona.

This horror soon turned to joy, however, after Sol Campbell scored the opening goal for the Gunners 20 minutes later.

A 10-man Arsenal hung on to their lead until the 70th minute, before they finally caved in to their talented opponents. Samuel Eto’o levelled the score for Barcelona, before Juliano Belletti hit the winner in the 80th minute.

8) Barcelona 3 – 1 Manchester United, 2011

Lionel Messi was at the centre of proceedings as Barcelona blew Manchester United away in 2011.

The Red Devils went into the match having won their fourth Premier League title in five years, but could not contain what Sir Alex Ferguson later called “the best team I’ve faced”.

Pedro opened the scoring for Barcelona in the 27th minute, and although Wayne Rooney equalised before half-time, Messi and David Villa secured the victory in the second-half.

Former Barcelona star Lionel Messi

7) Lyon 3 – 1 Barcelona, 2022

Lyon’s battle against Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League became an instant classic last weekend.

All four goals came in a blistering first-half, starting with Amandine Henry’s stunning long-range effort in the sixth minute. After Ada Hegerberg and Catarina Macario extended Lyon’s lead to 3-0, Alexia Putellas pulled one back for Barcelona.

The second half was goalless, but still as entertaining. Barcelona’s attempts to get back into the game – including Putellas’s stunning lob from the halfway line – were ultimately fruitless.

6) Real Madrid 4 – 1 Atletico Madrid, 2014

Back in 2014, the rivalry between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid was fierce. Atletico had won La Liga just days before they were set to play Real in the Champions League Final – the stage was set for an intriguing encounter.

Diego Godin gave Atletico the lead in the 36th minute, and his side looked set to win their first Champions League title as the match entered stoppage time.

But up popped Sergio Ramos to score a last-gasp equaliser for Real, who then went on to dominate in extra-time. Goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo put the fixture to bed.

Former Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo

5) Chelsea 1 – 1 (4-3P) Bayern Munich, 2012

Although the majority of Chelsea and Bayern Munich’s encounter in the 2012 Champions League Final was goalless, the match will go down in history.

It looked as if Thomas Müller had won it for Bayern Munich after he broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, but Didier Drogba headed in an equaliser just five minutes later.

Neither side could score in extra-time, so the match went down to penalties. Juan Mata missed the first spot-kick for Chelsea, but David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole all scored.

Philipp Lahm, Mario Gomez and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer were all successful for Bayern Munich, but the momentum shifted in Chelsea’s favour after Ivica Olić’s effort was saved and Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post. Drogba stepped up to hit the winner in dramatic fashion.

4) AC Milan 4 – 0 Barcelona, 1994

Despite missing seven key players, including Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi and Gianluigi Lentini, Milan stunned Barcelona in the Champions League Final in 1994.

Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona were heavy favourites to win their second European title in three years, but Daniele Massaro scored two goals in the first half to give Milan an unexpected lead.

Dejan Savićević and Marcel Desailly then scored in the second-half to earn a comprehensive victory over Barcelona.

AC Milan's Daniele Massaro
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3) Manchester United 1 – 1 (6-5P) Chelsea, 2008

Four years before Chelsea clinched European glory by defeating Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out, the Blues suffered the reverse fate at the hands of Manchester United.

The Red Devils went ahead first through Cristiano Ronaldo, before Frank Lampard equalised just before half-time. The game moved into extra-time, with Didier Drogba and Lampard hitting the woodwork, and John Terry blocking a goal-bound shot from Ryan Giggs.

As the match inched towards penalties, Chelsea were dealt a blow after Didier Drogba was sent off for slapping Nemanja Vidić. His presence was missed as Manchester United won the shoot-out, aided by misses from Terry and Nicolas Anelka.

2) Wolfsburg 4 – 3 Tyresö, 2014

This seven-goal thriller in the Women’s Champions League is one for the ages. As defending champions, Wolfsburg were favourites to win, but their Swedish opponents gave them a tough time of it.

In fact, Marta opened the scoring for Tyresö, before Verónica Boquete doubled their lead. Wolfsburg were 2-0 down at half-time, but they quickly turned things around in the second half.

Alexandra Popp made it 2-1 in the 47th minute, with Martina Müller grabbing the equaliser just six minutes later.

Marta then made the score 3-2, but it was to be the last time that Tyresö would lead. Wolfsburg equalised again through Verena Faißt, before Müller scored the winner 10 minutes from full-time.

Wolfsburg won the Women's Champions League in 2014

1) Liverpool 3 – 3 (2-3P) AC Milan, 2005

There can be no disagreement that Liverpool and AC Milan’s clash in the 2005 Champions League Final is the greatest of all.

At half-time, Liverpool were losing 3-0. They had been stunned by an early goal from Paolo Maldini and two strikes from Hernán Crespo.

But Steven Gerrard inspired a legendary six-minute comeback in the second half, reducing the deficit with a header in the 54th minute. Vladimír Šmicer was on target just two minutes later, before Xabi Alonso equalised in the 60th minute.

The match went to extra-time and penalties, during which goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek became Liverpool’s hero. He saved efforts from both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko, helping his side to a European title.

It will be a long time before another Champions League Final tops the “Miracle of Istanbul”.

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