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The four teams to lose consecutive European finals

Fiorentina are feeling the hurt after losing the Europa Conference League final to Olympiacos in extra-time.

It’s a familiar feeling for La Viola who were beaten in the decider of the same competition last season, extending their wait for a major trophy to 23 years. Fiorentina have become just the fourth team to lose back-to-back European finals.

Here are the unfortunate four.

Juventus – Champions League (1997 and 1998)

Juventus were one of Europe’s most formidable outfits in the nineties and were crowned European champions for the second time in 1995-96, after beating holders Ajax in the Champions League final.

After the summer additions of Zinedine Zidane and Christian Vieiri, the Old Lady progressed to a second successive final, thrashing old foes Ajax 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

The Italians started as favourites for the final but suffered a 3-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund. Karl-Heinz Riedle scored twice in the first half for the Germans before a lob from Lars Ricken sealed the win after Alessandro Del Piero had pulled one back.

The Bianconeri reached a third straight Champions League final in 1997-98 but again came up short in the decider. Predrag Mijatović scored the game’s only goal to seal a record-breaking seventh European Cup for Real Madrid – and first for 32 years.

Juventus have been back to the final on a further three occasions (2003, 2015 and 2017) but have lost each of those games.

Valencia – Champions League (2000 and 2001)

Valencia were the second side to lose successive Champions League finals. The Spanish side beat compatriots Barcelona in the 1999-00 semi-finals to set up another all-La Liga encounter with Real Madrid.

It was the first-ever Champions League final between teams from the same country, and went the way of Real Madrid who cruised to a 3-0 win at the Stade de France in Paris, with Steve McManaman scoring a spectacular goal.

The following season, Valencia again reached club football’s biggest game. Their passage to the final saw Arsenal and Leeds United eliminated in the knockout rounds, before a tight affair with Bayern Munich that saw penalties take centre stage.

After a 1-1 draw that saw Gaizka Mendieta and Stefan Effenberg score from the spot in normal time, Bayern triumphed via a shootout.

Oliver Kahn, who made spot-kick saves from Zlatko Zahovič, Amedeo Carboni and Mauricio Pellegrino, was awarded the UEFA Fair Play award after consoling Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares in the aftermath of Bayern’s shootout success.

Benfica – Europa League (2013 and 2014)

Benfica’s final curse is one of European football’s great tales. The Portuguese powerhouse conquered Europe with their Eusebio-inspired team, winning back-to-back European Cups in the early sixties.

The manager for those triumphs, Béla Guttmann, quit the club over a pay row and reportedly declared Benfica would ‘not conquer Europe again for a hundred years’.

It has been 62 and counting…

Since then, Benfica lost European Cup finals to Inter, AC Milan and Manchester United in the sixties, another to PSV in 1988, and UEFA Cup/Europa League finals in 1983, 2013 and 2014.

Their 2013 loss came at the hands of Chelsea, as Branislav Ivanovic’s stoppage-time goal snatched the trophy in Amsterdam. A year later, Benfica were back but lost on penalties to Sevilla after a goalless draw. Their wait for European silverware goes on.

Fiorentina – Europa Conference League (2023 and 2024)

Fiorentina are the fourth team to lose back-to-back European finals after successive Conference League losses over the past two campaigns.

La Viola were seeking a first European trophy since winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1960-61 and their first of any kind since Coppa Italia success in 2000-01, but lost the 2023 decider to West Ham in Prague.

Jarrod Bowen’s late goal earned the Hammers the trophy, as the game appeared to be heading towards extra time. It was their second final defeat of the season after also losing the Coppa Italia decider to Inter.

This season, Fiorentina again reached the final. Vincenzo Italiano’s side did not lose a game en route to the showpiece but were downed in extra-time in Athens as Ayoub El Kaabi handed Olympiacos a first-ever European trophy.

Read – Appreciating Ayoub El Kaabi’s record-breaking Conference League campaign

See more – The leading scorers from each of Europe’s top five leagues in 2023-24

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