Ranked: Every Champions League final, from worst to best

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Ronaldo Gerrard Puyol Champions League splitGetty/Goal
  • Milan 2003 Champions League trophyGetty

    272003: Juventus 0-0 (2-3P) Milan

    It seems too obvious to list the competition's only goalless final first, but with both of these teams very familiar with each other and bringing ageing teams to the table, 2003's Champions League final certainly wasn’t spectacular.

    Things got off to a lively start as Andriy Shevchenko had a goal disallowed – wrongly, many would argue – while both Antonio Conte and Andrea Pirlo hit the woodwork, but this was all before both started to sit back.

    Defensively, it was a masterclass – with Alessandro Nesta particularly formidable as Carlo Ancelotti reigned supreme against the club who had sacked him two years earlier.

    And if Shevchenko’s goal in fact should have stood, it didn’t matter in the end, as he scored the winning penalty for Milan after an unsurprisingly goalless period of extra time.

  • Marseille 1993 Champions League winnersGetty

    261993: Marseille 1-0 AC Milan

    Four-time European champions Milan fielded a star-studded XI in the first Champions League final, but it was rising stars such as Alen Boksic, Fabien Barthez and Marcel Desailly who reigned supreme – the latter’s display earning him a move to Milan later that year.

    After Frank Riijkaard and Daniele Massaro failed to test young Barthez – whose erratic but stand-out display was crucial in victory – in great early chances, Basile Boli rose highest from a corner to score a beautifully deft header just before half time.

    Jean-Pierre Papin had a great second-half chance but Barthez, playing like a man-possessed, threw himself at everything and anything that came his way to ensure victory in an end-to-end encounter.

  • Juventus 1996 Champions League winnersGetty

    251996: Ajax 1-1 (2-4P) Juventus

    Holders Ajax faced some task in retaining their European crown in 1996, having lost Frank Riijkaard to retirement, Clarance Seedorf to Sampdoria, Marc Overmars to injury and Michael Reiziger to suspension.

    The latter’s absence forced a defensive reshuffle that meant the Dutch side looked more uncertain than usual, something not helped by Fabrizio Ravanelli’s 13th-minute opener.

    Jari Litmanen equalised before the break but that was the end of the goals in an affair that went all the way to penalties.

    Juventus put on a tremendous tactical display, but Gianluca Vialli was guilty of missing big chances in a game that lacked real star quality, with both goals coming from goalkeeping mistakes.

  • Porto 2004 Champions League winnersGetty

    242004: Porto 3-0 Monaco

    Two surprising finalists would normally promise an exciting Champions League final – but not if one of those is managed by Jose Mourinho.

    The Portuguese coach’s final game before leaving for Chelsea would see him lead his well-organised Porto side to European glory in a tactically flawless performance.

    Carlos Alberto scored a superb volley to break the deadlock before Deco scored the goal his sublime display deserved.

    Dmitri Alenichev rounded things off emphatically on an uneventful and drama-free occasion – the type that rarely happens in Mourinho’s career. 

  • Real Madrid 2000 Champions League winnersGetty

    232000: Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia

    A one-sided and uneventful affair against a familiar opponent; this had the feeling of Real Madrid securing a comfortable win over a mid-table side in La Liga.

    Valencia were never fancied and Madrid showed why as they blew them away in a display that was simply the Spanish giants flexing their muscles.

    Fernando Morientes’ simple header, Steve McManaman’s superb volley and Raul’s composed strike made it great viewing for Madridstas, but there was little for neutrals to get excited about as Vicente del Bosque’s side claimed their eighth European title.

  • Bayern 2001 Champions League winnersGetty

    222001: Bayern Munich 1-1 (5-4P) Valencia

    The 2001 final was as drab as you would expect from a game in which the only goals came from penalties, before the title was then settled in a shootout.

    Gaizka Mendieta broke the deadlock after just three minutes, and when Bayern were awarded a spot-kick moments later, Santiago Canizares staked his claim to be the day’s hero when he saved Mehmet Scholl’s effort.

    But after Stefan Effenberg stepped up a scored a second-half penalty, Oliver Kahn would instead claim the final as his own following 120 minutes of football in which chances were at a premium.

    The legendary Bayern shot-stopper saved twice in the shootout and wrote his name into club, and Champions League, history.

  • Liverpool celebrate vs Tottenham, Champions League final 2018-19Getty

    212019: Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool

    This final was always at a disadvantage, simply because of the incredible semi-finals that precedes it.

    Lucas Moura's hat-trick, completed in the 96th minute, sealed Tottenham's place in Madrid at the expense of Ajax, after Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit.

    However, the all-English clash was not the attacking affair anticipated, with Liverpool sitting back for most of the game after a lively start which saw Mohamed Salah convert a second minute penalty.

    Tottenham tried their best to get back into the game but a lack of creativity, and a string of strong saves from Alisson, denied them on their debut at this stage and instead Divock Origi sealed victory with an arrowed strike late on.

  • Inter 2010 Champions League winnersGetty

    202010: Inter 2-0 Bayern Munich

    After his tactics led Porto to an unprecedented Champions League triumph six years earlier, Mourinho masterminded the same success at Inter in 2010 as a counter-attacking strategy allowed them to comfortably overcome Bayern Munich.

    The fact that the Germans were missing Franck Ribery through suspension certainly helped, but this was another tactical masterclass from Mourinho, with Wesley Sneijder at his very best and Diego Milito as clinical as ever.

    The latter’s brace – the first an emphatic finish and the second a superb solo effort – was the decisive factor as Mourinho out-thought Louis van Gaal to complete Inter’s treble but, in the process, create an affair that rarely excited the neutral.

  • Milan 2007 Champions League winnersGetty

    192007: Milan 2-1 Liverpool

    Milan claimed the revenge they so desperately wanted in the 2007 final, just two years after throwing away a 3-0 lead to lose the 2005 Champions League title to Liverpool.

    Liverpool started the brighter of the two, but Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick deflected off of Filipo Inzaghi and in before Kaka slipped the striker in to round things off with a clinical finish from a tight angle.

    Dirk Kuyt pulled one back for the Reds with just a minute to play but the title was Milan’s in much less dramatic – and exciting fashion – than when these two sides met two years prior.

  • Real Madrid 2017 Champions League winnersGetty

    182017: Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid

    It’s always a shame when strikes as great as Mario Mandzukic’s in the 2017 Champions League final count for nothing, but his equalising overhead kick proved nothing but a consolation when Real Madrid swept Juventus aside at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

    Cristiano Ronaldo put the holders ahead with a neat strike on 20 minutes and, after Mandzukic’s acrobatics and Casemiro’s deflected effort, he bagged his second of the day with a tidy finish.

    Gianluigi Buffon’s Champions League dream had faded in the matter of four second-half minutes, but just to be sure, Juan Cuadrado’s red card – prompted by some Sergio Ramos theatrics – put the final nail in the coffin before substitute Marco Asensio completed the rout in the final moments.

  • Barcelona 2009 Champions League winnersGetty

    172009: Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United

    Pep Guardiola’s first season as a manager was a dream, seeing him lead Barcelona to La Liga, Copa del Rey and, finally, Champions League glory.

    Stadio Olimpico was left in awe as tiki-taka stole the show against an admittedly poor Manchester United, for whom Cristiano Ronaldo was at his most ludicrous with efforts attempted from every angle and distance imaginable.

    Samuel Eto’o stabbed the ball under Edwin van der Sar for 1-0 before a certain Lionel Messi, who had danced past opponents all evening, headed in Barcelona’s second.

    They were a cut above Ferguson’s side in a game nowhere near as competitive as was anticipated – despite what the scoreline may suggest.

  • Real Madrid 2016 Champions League winnersGetty

    162016: Real Madrid 1-1 (5-3P) Atletico Madrid

    When the Champions League final treated us to a second Madrid derby in three years, once again, it did not disappoint.

    Sergio Ramos was on target again, Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty, Dani Carvajal limped off crying and Stefan Savic missed a sitter all before we had even reached the hour mark.

    Atletico got their equaliser late on through Yannick Carrasco, just moments after Gareth Bale had seen his shot cleared off the line, as the San Siro was treated to a much more even period of extra time than the Estadio da Luz in 2014.

    It was a goalless half hour, though, making it the seventh Champions League final to be taken to penalties where, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo smashed home the winning spot-kick and Real were champions of Europe for an 11th time.

  • Ajax 1995 Champions League winnersGetty

    151995: Ajax 1-0 Milan

    This was an absorbing final between one of Europe’s greatest teams, Milan the reigning champions and in their third successive final, and an exciting young side looking to rediscover past glories, Ajax having reached their first final since winning a third successive European Cup in 1973.

    Marco Simone was the Italians’ brightest spark, catching a volley sweetly in his best chance but firing it straight at Edwin van der Sar, while Daniele Massaro would spin and strike just wide.

    The game looked destined for extra time until a moment that created a superstar. 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert came off the bench and received a pass from Frank Riijkaard that put him through on goal and the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Real Madrid 1998 Champions League winnersGetty

    141998: Juventus 0-1 Real Madrid

    With the calibre of players on show and the amount of chances created, it’s still a wonder this game ended with just the one scored.  

    Edgar Davids, Zinedine Zidane and Filipo Inzaghi all should have netted for Juventus, while Raul should’ve been on the scoresheet for the winners. 

    However, while clinical finishing wasn’t on show, this was a game otherwise of the highest quality, played at an exhilarating 100mph. 

    Davids’ trickery and Zidane’s electricity looked like it would eventually win it for the Italians, but Predrag Mijatovic was instead the match-winner in a what was a brilliant contested and fiery affair between two of Europe’s best teams. 

  • Real Madrid 2018 Champions League winnersGetty

    132018: Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool

    The 2018 Champions League final promised to really be one for the neutrals. Two attack-minded sides going all out at each other for 90 minutes, with club football’s greatest prize at stake. 

    But Mohamed Salah’s injury ended the chances of this being a classic – even if plenty of drama followed. 

    Loris Karius threw the ball at Karim Benzema’s outstretched leg to break the deadlock in bizarre fashion, Sadio Mane equalised from close range and then Gareth Bale entered the fray. 

    The Welshman produced a stunning overhead kick to rival manager Zidane’s as the best ever scored in a Champions League final, before adding a second when his speculative shot was pushed into his own net by the unfortunate Karius, who was later said to have been suffering from a concussion caused by Sergio Ramos. 

    It was certainly an entertaining final, but not in an orthodox manner. 

  • Real Madrid 2002 Champions League winnersGetty

    122002: Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Real Madrid

    Real Madrid cruised to victory when they were favourites in 2000, but that wasn’t the case against Bayer Leverkusen two years later, with the German side playing their part in an even and entertaining final. 

    They exchanged blows in a lively start as Raul and then Lucio scored to make it 1-1 after just 13 minutes, but this final is remembered for one thing only – Zinedine Zidane’s winning strike on the stroke of half-time. 

    The Frenchman’s sublime volley proved the difference in this exciting clash, albeit with the help of substitute Iker Casillas, who replaced the injured Cesar in the second half and made a handful of crucial saves to claim his second Champions League title, just five days before his 20th birthday. 

  • Barcelona 2015 Champions League winnersGetty

    112015: Juventus 1-3 Barcelona

    One of the best attacks in Europe against one of the best defences – the 2015 final promised to be an intriguing tactical battle if nothing else. 

    However, Barcelona got off to a flying start through Ivan Rakitic’s third-minute strike, drawing Juventus out and creating a much more open and attacking clash. 

    After Gianluigi Buffon kept Juve in the game with a great save to deny Luis Suarez, Alvaro Morata levelled things with the simplest of finishes – but the setback seemed to only make treble-seeking Barcelona even better. 

    Suarez slotted home after Lionel Messi’s effort could only be parried by Buffon before Neymar, who had teased Stephan Lichtsteiner all evening, got the goal his performance deserved in stoppage time. This was MSN at their very best. 

  • Bayern 2013 Champions League winnersGetty

    102013: Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich

    After an incredible pair of semi-finals – Dortmund having overcome Real Madrid 4-3 and Bayern thrashing Barcelona 7-0 - these German rivals certainly did their best to produce a worthy final in an entertaining 2012-13 campaign.

    It was an end-to-end affair between the Bundesliga pair, in which momentum changed hands as quickly as any final on this list.  

    Mario Mandzukic tapped in Arjen Robben’s cross to give Bayern the lead, albeit one that was cancelled out quickly through Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty in eight minutes of football that summed up this even encounter. 

    In the end, the class of the Bavarians shone through, with Robben scoring a dramatically late winner that earned redemption for his missed penalty in the 2012 final, meaning Jupp Heynckes would leave the club in the most illustrious of manners – with a treble to his name. 

  • Man United 1999 Champions League winnersGetty

    91999: Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich

    The first 90 minutes of this game were nothing to write home about, as Bayern Munich took the lead early on through Mario Basler and little happened after.

    But the drama in ‘Fergie time’ made it one of the most iconic finals Europe has ever seen, with Teddy Sheringham equalising in the first added minute before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made Man United champions of Europe in the third.

    It wasn’t as good a game as either of their two group stage meetings, but it was much more dramatic and that it completed a treble for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, who were missing Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in Barcelona, made it all the more spectacular.

  • Barcelona 2006 Champions League winnersGetty

    82006: Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal

    Jens Lehmann’s reckless red card after just 18 minutes of the 2006 Champions League final threatened to add the occasion to this competition’s ‘one-sided’ category – but it did anything but. 

    Sol Campbell’s header before half-time put Arsenal ahead despite their numerical disadvantage against Barcelona, and it kept them ahead for some time. 

    Samuel Eto’o hit the post, substitute Manuel Almunia was called upon several times, and Thierry Henry should have added to the Gunners’ lead. 

    But, in the end, the inevitable happened – the Londoners caved to two wonderfully crafted goals, with Henrik Larsson coming off the bench to provide two assists, for Eto'o and Julian Belletti, in a thrilling affair in which momentum constantly swung between two talented sides. 

  • Dortmund 1997 Champions League winnersGetty

    71997: Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Juventus

    This may be the greatest upset in a Champions League final.

    Dortmund were making just their second appearance in this competition (fifth overall, including the European Cup) and found themselves coming up against the holders, who remained one of the best teams in Europe.

    But the silk and skill of Italy’s finest was stifled by a dogged display from Scottish midfielder Paul Lambert, who described himself as the worst player in this Dortmund team but one who played a crucial role in Munich, particularly to thwart Zinedine Zidane.

    Karl-Heinz Reidle scored twice to put the Germans comfortably ahead by half time and, although Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back for Juve, a wonderful chip from 20-year-old local boy Lars Ricken rounded off this fantastic underdog tale.

  • Barcelona 2011 Champions League winnersGetty

    62011: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United

    If there is a game that defines Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, this is it. 

    An incredible passing machine destroying Sir Alex Ferguson’s serial winners – a Manchester United team that had just won their fourth Premier League title in five years. 

    Lionel Messi, still just 24 years old at this point, was at his very best and central to every goal. 

    The Argentine's run diverted the attention of the United defence to allow Pedro to score the first; he drilled the second into Edwin van der Sar’s bottom corner from 20 yards and then danced down the right to create the opportunity for David Villa to curl home a third. 

    “In my time as a manager, it’s the best team I’ve faced,” Ferguson admitted at full-time. It’s probably the best team Wembley and the Champions League have seen, too. 

  • Real Madrid 2014 Champions League winnersGetty

    52014: Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid

    As if having a Madrid derby in the Champions League wasn’t exciting enough, Real’s relentless obsession with ‘La Decima’ and the fact that Atletico had won the league title at Camp Nou just days before set this up to be a spectacle. And it didn’t disappoint.

    Atletico took the lead through Diego Godin in the first half and from there, particularly with Diego Costa having limped off, it was simply a question of whether their formidable defence could withstand Real’s world-class attack.

    The answer was dramatically delivered as a resounding no.

    Sergio Ramos sent the game to extra time with a stoppage-time header, where – inspired by the brilliance of Angel Di Maria – Gareth Bale, Marcelo and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo would all capitalise on Atletico’s despondency to clinch that historic 10th European title.

  • Chelsea 2012 Champions League winnersGetty

    42012: Chelsea 1-1 (4-3P) Bayern Munich

    When Bayern Munich welcomed Chelsea and their interim boss Roberto Di Matteo to their Allianz Arena in 2012, many expected only one result. 

    Bayern’s crowning moment seemed inevitable as former Blue Arjen Robben joined Franck Ribery in terrorising Chelsea’s defence – and it was just minutes from being confirmed when Thomas Muller finally broke the deadlock after 83 minutes. 

    But, four years on from his red card in the 2008 final defeat to Manchester United, Didier Drogba wrote his name into Stamford Bridge folklore as a true legend. 

    The striker’s header sent the game into extra time, where Robben was denied from 12 yards by Petr Cech, and it was he who scored the winning penalty after Ivica Olic was also denied by Cech and Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post. 

    An exhilarating modern classic. 

  • Man United 2008 Champions League winnersGetty

    32008: Man United 1-1 (6-5P) Chelsea

    Some finals have everything and this was one of them. 

    An end-to-end encounter by no means spoiled by both sides’ familiarity with each other saw Cristiano Ronaldo at his very best in his former winger role, while showing what the future had in store when he headed home the game’s opening goal.

    Chances aplenty came and went both before and after Frank Lampard levelled the scores, with both Didier Drogba and Lampard hitting the woodwork as the game moved into extra time, while John Terry blocked Ryan Giggs’ goal-bound shot and Drogba was sent off.

    Penalties were needed to bring this incredible affair to a conclusion, with Edwin van der Sar the hero – stopping Nicolas Anelka’s effort after Ronaldo’s spot-kick was saved and Terry slipped and missed. Drama to the last moment.

  • Milan 1994 Champions League winnersGetty

    21994: Milan 4-0 Barcelona

    How did Milan win the 1994 Champions League without seven key players, including Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta? By producing what is arguably the greatest performance by a team in the history of Europe’s elite competition. 

    The Italians came out all guns blazing against the winning machine that was Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona, Dejan Savicevic leaving Miguel Angel Nadal on the floor to set up Daniele Massaro’s first, with his second coming before half-time. 

    Another embarrassing moment for Nadal allowed Savicevic to score an outstanding lob just minutes into the second half, before Marcel Desailly got in on the action to complete a rout that Cruyff’s revolutionary side were rarely handed and certainly not expected to receive on this occasion. 

  • Liverpool 2005 Champions League winnersGetty

    12005: Milan 3-3 (2-3P) Liverpool

    There has been no greater Champions League final than the iconic Miracle of Istanbul, in which Liverpool fought from 3-0 down to be crowned champions of Europe on penalties. 

    Paolo Maldini’s first-minute goal got Milan off to the best start possible, and Hernan Crespo seemed to have dealt killer blows with his quick-fire brace at the end of the first half. 

    But Steven Gerrard inspired his team to the most incredible comeback this competition has ever seen. His header narrowed the deficit to two, Vladimir Smicer drilled home a second from range and then Gerrard burst into the box and won a penalty – Xabi Alonso scoring the rebound after his initial effort was saved. 

    Jerzy Dudek took the game to a shootout thanks to a sensational double save to deny Shevchenko in extra time, and he was the hero there – Shevchenko the man denied again in the final spot-kick. 

    The sheer excitement of this end-to-end comeback clash makes it unbeatable, with the fact it handed Liverpool their historic fifth European title only adding to the legacy of what is arguably the greatest game ever played in club football.