Teams who Nearly Defended the Champions League

Published 02/15/2018, 3:50 AM EST

Quite a few footballing records were broken at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on the night of the 3rd of June, 2017. It was the place where the final of the most prestigious tournament in club football- the UEFA Champions League- was hosted. Spanish giants, Real Madrid, completed what was arguably their best season in recent years. To cap it off, they outclassed Italian Champions, Juventus, to be crowned the best in Europe for the 12th time.


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Los Blancos won their 3rd Champions League title in four years by defeating Juve 4-1, with Cristiano Ronaldo(2), Casemiro and Marco Asensio scoring for the winners while Mario Mandzukic netted the only goal for the runner-ups. Not only did Real Madrid maintain their cent percent success rate of winning a Champions League final, they also became the first club to win the coveted trophy consecutive times.

Though there are few clubs(Real Madrid, Internazionale, Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, Benfica, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and AC Milan) who have achieved this feat in the second half of the 20th century, back then the competition was called the European Cup(only champions of each country’s domestic leagues were permitted to enter and it was a straight knockout competition). No club  had, until now, won the Champions League successively since its inception in the 1992-93 season. A handful of clubs came close to achieving this feat though. Here’s a look at them:


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AC Milan (1995):

Pic credits –

Having lost the Champions League final against Olympique Marseille in 1994, AC Milan were once again in contention to reign supreme in Europe the following year, as they played Johan Cruyff’s mighty Barcelona in the final of the 1995 Champions League in  Athens, Greece. Milan, being the underdogs going in to the fixture, stunned everyone as they ripped through the Catalans to win the title. The final scoreline was:

AC Milan (Daniele Massaro ’22, ’45+3, Dejan Savicevic ’47, Marcel Desailly ’55) 4-0 Barcelona

Pic Credits – Getty Images

The Rossoneri reached the final of the Champions League third time in a row in 1995. They were on the cusp of becoming the first team to defend the Champions League in Vienna, Austria, when they played against Ajax Amsterdam. However, Milan’s experienced side was completely undone by a youthful Ajax team. The final scoreline was:

Ajax Amsterdam(Patrick Kluivert ’84) 1-0 AC Milan

Ajax Amsterdam(1996):

Pic credits – 2002 empics

Louis van Gaal’s Ajax Amsterdam sent shockwaves across the footballing fraternity when they became European champions by defeating a much stronger AC Milan side in the final of 1994-95 edition of the tournament in Vienna, Austria. The final scoreline was:

Ajax Amsterdam(Patrick Kluivert ’84) 1-0 AC Milan

Pic credits – The42

Ajax proved that their historic win against Milan wasn’t a fluke when they reached the final of the Champions League, the next season, in 1996. They were prevented from defending the title by Juventus, who beat the Dutch side the on penalties to win their 2nd European title in Rome, Italy. The final scoreline was:

Juventus (Fabrizio Ravanelli ’12) 1-1 Ajax Amsterdam( Jari litmanen ’41)

Juventus won 4-2 on penalties

Juventus (1997):

Pic credits – talkSport

Juventus were crowned European Champions in 1996 when they defeated Ajax Amsterdam on penalties in 1996.

Pic Credits – Getty Images

They reached the final of the Champions League once again in 1997. This time time they were facing Borussia Dortmund in Munich, Germany. This was the first time the German side were playing in the final of Europe’s most elite club competition.  Juventus, who were the clear favourites to win the game due to the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero and Didier Deschamps, were defeated by Dortmund. The final scoreline was:

Borussia Dortmund (Karlheinz Riedle ’29, ’34, Lars Ricken ’71) 3-1 Juventus (Del Piero ’65)

Manchester United (2009):

Pic Credits – Daily Mail

Manchester United won their second Champion League title in 2008 when Sir Alex Ferguson’ side defeated English rivals Chelsea on penalties on a rainy night in Moscow, Russia. The match, which became memorable due to John Terry’s missed spot-kick that would have made Chelsea the winners instead, ended with the following scoreline:

Manchester United (Cristiano Ronaldo ’26) 1-1 Chelsea (‘ Frank Lampard)


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United won 6-5 on penalties.

Pic Credits – Vavel

The 2009 Champions League final, played in Rome, Italy, is widely regarded as a clash of two of the best teams in modern era. Defending champions Manchester United had hit a purple patch, having won the Premier League title for a third consecutive time(thereby equaling Liverpool’s record of 18 English titles). On the other hand, this Barcelona side managed by Pep Guardiola is considered by most as the best team to have graced the game. However, as it turned out, Barcelona completely outplayed the Red Devils to prevent them from becoming the first club to defend the Champions League. The final scoreline was:


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Barcelona (Samuel Eto’o ’10, Lionel Messi ’70) 2-0 Manchester United


Rajat Mohile

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