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Ranking the five clubs to appear in the most Champions League finals

Paris Saint-Germain will meet Bayern Munich in the final of the Champions League this weekend, the two sides bidding to become champions of Europe in Lisbon.

For the Parisians, it will be their first appearance in the showpiece of football’s biggest club competition, the significant investment put into the Ligue 1 side handing them an opportunity to become just the second French team to lift the trophy.

Standing in their way are a Bayern Munich side whose previous exploits make them one of the superpowers of European football, the German giants seeking a sixth trophy and first since claiming a historic treble under the guidance of Jupp Heynckes in 2013.

Ahead of the mouth-watering match up between two of football’s finest sides, we’ve decided to look back at the clubs to have reached the most finals in the Champions League era.

Here are the five clubs to appear in the most Champions League finals:

Bayern Munich – 5

Bayern’s appearance in this weekend’s final will be their sixth since the rebranding of the European Cup in the early nineties, though the Bavarians will be hoping to improve on a record that has seen the club win just two of their previous five showpieces.

The Bundesliga giants lost their first final in agonising fashion as Manchester United scored two stoppage-time goals to snatch the trophy from their grasp in 1999, before bouncing back to beat Valencia on penalties two years later at Milan’s San Siro Stadium.

Bayern had to wait almost a decade for their next appearance before reaching the Champions League’s final three times in four seasons, losing to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in 2010 before a heartbreaking defeat to Chelsea in 2012.

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That latter defeat was held at Bayern’s own Allianz Arena and saw Didier Drogba’s late equaliser force extra-time, Bayern then defeated on penalties after Arjen Robben had missed a spot-kick in the additional 30 minutes.

The following season saw Bayern return stronger, however, Robben earning his redemption by scoring a late winner as the Germans defeated compatriots Borussia Dortmund in the first all-Bundesliga final.

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Barcelona – 5

Sitting level with Bayern Munich are another of European football’s most illustrious clubs, Barcelona having reached the final on five occasions throughout the Champions League era.

The Spanish giant’s first final ended in embarrassment as Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ – regarded as the strong favourites against AC Milan – were thrashed 4-0 in Athens, a result which remains the biggest winning margin in Champions League final history.

Since then, however, Barcelona have enjoyed a flawless record in their final appearances, lifting the trophy on four occasions between 2006 and 2015 during a glittering period in the history of the Catalan club.

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Three of those final victories came against Premier League opposition after beating Arsenal in 2006 and Manchester United in 2009 and 2011, those latter two trophies secured under Pep Guardiola by a side regarded by many as the finest club team of all-time.

Barcelona’s most recent victory came in defeating Juventus five years ago, a 3-1 victory over the Italian champions sealing a treble-winning season under Luis Enrique.

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Juventus – 6

Juventus’ early elimination this season means it has now been 25 years since Italy’s most successful club was crowned as champions of Europe, the Bianconeri having endured a difficult relationship with the Champions League in recent years.

The Turin side reached three consecutive finals during a golden era for Italian football in the nineties, defeating Ajax on penalties in 1996 before suffering back-to-back losses to Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively.

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That victory over Ajax remains their most recent Champions League triumph a quarter of a century on, however, losing a further three times in finals since the turn of the millennium.

Juventus were beaten on penalties by AC Milan in the first ever all-Italian final in 2003, before twice losing to Spanish opposition – against Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017 – as the club’s wait for an elusive Champions League title continues.

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AC Milan – 6

AC Milan may have fallen on harder times in recent years but the Rossoneri’s rich history in the Champions League means that only one side has ever reached more finals in the modern era.

Milan reached the first three finals of the rebranded competition in the early nineties, their 4-0 victory over Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona sandwiched between 1-0 defeats to both Marseille and Ajax.

The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti as manager then saw Milan return to the pinnacle of European football throughout the 2000’s and the club reached three finals in just five seasons, firstly beating Juventus on penalties following a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

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Their most recent Champions League final appearances both came against Premier League side Liverpool, losing via a shoot-out to the Reds following arguably the greatest ever final in Istanbul, Milan throwing away a three-goal half-time lead as Rafael Benitez’s side staged an improbable comeback.

Milan exacted revenge on the Merseyside club just two years later, however, Filippo Inzaghi proving the difference with a brace in 2007 as Ancelotti’s side ran out 2-1 winners in Athens.

Real Madrid – 7

No side has ever lifted the trophy on more occasions than Real Madrid, the Spanish giants possessing a special relationship with continental competition since dominating the early years of the European Cup.

Real Madrid’s love-affair with the tournament has continued throughout the Champions League era, reaching the final on seven occasions – the joint-most of any side in history – and lifting the trophy each time.

Their first period of dominance came with three successes in five seasons between 1998 and 2002, beating Juventus, Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen – the latter final seeing Zinedine Zidane score one of the great final goals with a sumptuous winning volley.

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It took more than a decade before sealing the fabled La Decima and Madrid’s tenth European crown by beating city rivals Atletico Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti becoming just the second manager to lift the trophy three times after twice previously guiding AC Milan to success.

Atletico were beaten once more two years later as Real – now under the guidance of former player Zidane – won the first of three consecutive Champions League titles, the record-winners becoming the first side to defend the trophy in the Champions League era after securing wins over Juventus and later Liverpool.

Read – Picking the best XI of Carlo Ancelotti’s illustrious managerial career

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