Tomorrow night will see two of the World’s biggest football clubs Real Madrid and Liverpool face off in the 25th Champions League final since the European Cup rebranded in the 1992/1993 season.
Over the years the finals of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition has produced some truly epic encounters. Here is our list of the five greatest UCL finals of all time.
AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona 1994
This was a heavyweight clash if ever there was one, with Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona team – so good they were nicknamed the dream team – facing off against Fabio Capello’s superb AC Milan side that had dominated Italian and European football for many years.
Despite Milan’s pedigree, Barca went into the game as favourites, but the Italian side would put in one of the greatest ever European final performances of all time, sending the La Liga side home with their tail between their legs after romping to a 4-0 victory in the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
Bayer Leverkusen 1 – 2 Real Madrid 2002
This fixture was another superb encounter between the Galactico’s of Real Madrid and a Micheal Ballack inspired Bayer Leverkusen.
The game took place in Glasgow and will forever be remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s stunning left footed volley which would ultimately prove to be the winner.
Despite the Bundesliga side looking considerably weaker on paper, they piled on the pressure late on, but they would be denied a young substitute goalkeeper by the name of Iker Casillas.
In all honesty though, it was all about the mercurial Frenchman Zidane’s strike, which is easily the best ever winning goal in a UCL final.
Ajax 1-0 AC Milan 1995
Although this game was probably not the most entertaining of watches it was a fixture and result that caught the imagination of football fans around the globe.
It would be decided by a 85th minute strike by 18-year-old substitute Patrick Kluivert, as a Ajax side which was made up of mostly teenagers from the Amsterdam club’s youth academy toppled the mighty AC Milan.
The Dutch side was managed by Louis Van Gaal and consisted of young talents like Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Edwin Van der Saar, and Marc Overmars who would all go on to have stellar careers with other top European clubs.
Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United 1999
This dramatic victory sealed a famous Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.
German giants Bayern took an early lead when midfielder Mario Basler smashed a low free-kick past Peter Schmeichel. Bayern continued to dominate throughout the rest of the game, but were unable to get the decisive second goal to put the game to bed.
Then as the game entered its dying moments United striker Teddy Sheringham slotted home from close range in the 91st minute to seemingly and in all honesty probably undeservedly send the game into extra time.
However Ferguson’s men weren’t finished and Sheringham was again involved just two minutes later as he flicked on a David Beckham corner that was poked into the net by super sub Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
The Norwegian striker’s goal was practically the last kick of the game and left the German side inconsolable, and sealed one of the greatest ever Champions League comebacks of all time.
Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan 2005
Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan side was packed full of world class talent like Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Paolo Maldini and Hernan Crespo and went into this game in Istanbul as overwhelming favourites against a pretty average looking Liverpool side who most people were surprised had even made it to the final.
After 45 minutes the Italian sides’ favourite tag seemed to be fully justified as they raced into a 3-0 goal via Maldini and a Crespo brace.
However, Rafa Benitez’s side would emerge a different team after the half-time break and inspired by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, they would go on to pull off the greatest ever Champions League final victory.
Gerrard would head a goal back for Liverpool on 54 minutes before Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso completed an unlikely comeback to force the game into extra time.
Liverpool would eventually run out winners on penalties when Andriy Shevchenko’s spot kick was saved by Jerzy Dudek, which cued scenes of delirium amongst the travelling Reds support.