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Five classic finals of the Champions League era

Five classic finals of the Champions League era

Though many would have wanted to see a budding Premier League rivalry hit the European stage with a final consisting of Manchester City and Liverpool, Jürgen Klopp’s Reds will enjoy the chance to take on arguably the most prestigious club in the history of football in Europe when they meet Real Madrid in the city of lights at the Stade de France this weekend in the Champions League final.

Both Liverpool and Real Madrid had a brilliant run to this year’s finals, which on paper, could serve up one of the most entertaining clashes in recent Champions League memory when the likes of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mané, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Karim Benzema, Vinicíus Júnior, Luka Modrić, and Thibaut Courtois come to grips in one of the most famous cities in the world.

But where might this titanic clash potentially stack up against some of the most storied final memories since the Champions League came into being in 1993? Here are five of the most memorable and classic finals of the UEFA Champions League era.

 

1993 | Olympique de Marseille 1-0 AC Milan

One of the bigger upsets in Champions League history, a young and upstart Olympique de Marseille which featured the likes of rising young talents Alen Boksic, Fabien Barthez, and Marcel Desailly, and future World Cup winner Didier Deschamps, bested the perennial powerhouse of the day in Italian giants AC Milan.

The Serie A was at the height of its power in the early-mid 1990s, with Italian clubs reaching the final for seven consecutive seasons between 1991-98, but this day belonged to France thanks to a goal from Basile Boli despite the many chances that Milan crafted across the 90-minute contest. It ould be the club’s only Champions League win, but what a win it was.

1995 | Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 AC Milan

Unfortunately for Milan, another Champions League upset on their record came two seasons later despite the Lombardy-based outfit winning the competition in 1994 after thrashing Barcelona 4-0 in Athens, they once again were narrowly outstripped by youthful exuberance in the mold of Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam.

Five classic finals of the Champions League era

(L-R) Ajax’s Frank de Boer, Nwankwo Kanu, Ronald de Boer and Finidi George celebrate with the European Cup (Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Massive in their own right, Ajax was looking to come into a new era on the back of another gifted crop of young talent which included the De Boer twins, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Edwin van der Sar, Jari Litmanen, Finidi George, and eventual match-winner Patrick Kluivert, who found just enough space to slide past Sebastiano Rossi five minutes before full time. Countless players from this side would define an entire generation and then some, and this finals win is up there with the best of them.

1997 | Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Juventus

Italian clubs and upsets were an unfortunate trend in the 1990s despite the Serie A being the best league in the world at the time and the likes of Milan and Juventus both reaching three finals in a row and Borussia Dortmund’s shock win against Juve on national home turf in Munich stands as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition.

Perhaps the most memorable performance came from Scottish midfielder Paul Lambert who once famously stated that he was the worst player in the Dortmund team, but went on to put in a masterful outing while locking down Zinedine Zidane in the heart of midfield. A brace from Karl-Heinz Reidle and a third goal from local talent Lars Ricken were enough to see Dortmund crowned champions on a momentous evening.

1999 | Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich

Quite possibly the most memorable final in the Champions League era, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United would go on to coin the phrase “Fergie time” in a late win over German giants Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou in Barcelona after Mario Basler put the Bavarian outfit in front early on in the sixth minute.

But United would respond in stunning fashion when Teddy Sheringham found an equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time in the second half, before super-sub and babyfaced assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjær found a winner just two minutes later while breaking countless hearts in Bavarian along the way. Solskjær may not have endeared himself on the touchline as a manager years later, but he will forever be loved for his memorable contribution on the pitch

2013 | Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich

Bayern is at the forefront yet again on the list, but this time, an entertaining and league-defining clash for the Bundesliga pitted the Bavarians against fellow domestic giant Dortmund at Wembley in what was the only time in the Champions League era that two German clubs contested Europe’s biggest prize.

Current Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp was at the head of the Dortmund column on the night as Die Schwarzgelben were hoping to exact revenge on Bayern after Jupp Heynckes’ men blitzed to a domestic league win by a cool 25-point margin. Bayern has taken the lead in the second half through Croatian star Mario Mandžukić before being canceled out by young talent Ilkay Guündogan from the spot eight minutes later. But Bayern once more had the last laugh when Dutch icon Arjen Robben found the winner just a minute before full-time in a trademark clutch moment.