As Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final this weekend, football fans are preparing for another thrilling encounter on Europe’s most prestigious stage.
Since the European Cup was renamed the Champions League in 1992, there have been a number of brilliant finals between some of the best teams of all time.
The Women’s Champions League has also produced several highly entertaining finals, including last weekend’s thriller between Lyon and Barcelona.
We take a trip down memory lane and rank the 10 best Champions League finals of all time.
Juventus were clear favorites heading into the 1997 Champions League final. The defending champions, led by Marcello Lippi, had Zinedine Zidane, Vladimir Jugović and Didier Deschamps in their line-up.
Dortmund may have been the underdog, but Karl-Heinz Reidle scored twice to give the German side a shock half-time lead.
Juventus hit back through Alessandro Del Piero in the 65th minute, but Lars Ricken secured victory for Dortmund with a delicious chip just six minutes later. The result was one of the biggest upsets of a Champions League final.
Much to the horror of Arsenal fans, goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off just 18 minutes into his side’s Champions League final against Barcelona.
That horror quickly turned to joy, however, after Sol Campbell scored the Gunners’ first goal 20 minutes later.
A 10-man Arsenal held on to their lead until the 70th minute, before finally giving in to their talented opponents. Samuel Eto’o leveled the score for Barcelona, before Juliano Belletti struck in the winner in the 80th minute.
📅 OTD in 2006, Henrik Larsson joined the #UCL final with Barcelona trailing 1-0 in the 61st minute…
∙ 76 min: assist from Eto’o
∙ 80 min: assist from Belletti
Incredible impact as the Catalans broke Arsenal’s heart in Paris 👏💔pic.twitter.com/lN3gJ4OU2F
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 17, 2022
Lionel Messi was front and center when Barcelona blew up Manchester United in 2011.
The Red Devils entered the game having won their fourth Premier League title in five years but could not contain what Sir Alex Ferguson later called “the best team I have faced”.
Pedro opened the scoring for Barcelona in the 27th minute, and although Wayne Rooney equalized before half-time, Messi and David Villa secured victory in the second half.
7) Lyon 3 – 1 Barcelona, 2022
Lyon’s battle against Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League became an instant classic last weekend.
All four goals came in a blistering first half, starting with Amandine Henry’s superb long-range shot in the sixth minute. After Ada Hegerberg and Catarina Macario extended Lyon’s lead to 3-0, Alexia Putellas pulled one back for Barcelona.
The second half was scoreless, but still entertaining. Barcelona’s attempts to get back in the game – including Putellas’ superb lob from the halfway line – were ultimately unsuccessful.
TO TAKE. A BOW. 🔥
Amandine Henry with one of the goals of the season for @OLFeminine
Watch the @UWCL Final live 👇
— DAZN Football (@DAZNFootball) May 21, 2022
Back in 2014, the rivalry between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid was fierce. Atletico had won La Liga just days before facing Real in the Champions League final – the stage was set for an intriguing encounter.
Diego Godin put Atletico ahead in the 36th minute, and his side looked set to claim their maiden Champions League title as the game entered stoppage time.
But Sergio Ramos popped up to score a last-minute equalizer for Real, who then dominated in extra time. Goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo put the game to bed.
Although the majority of the encounter between Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final was scoreless, the game will go down in history.
It looked like Thomas Müller had won it for Bayern Munich after breaking the deadlock in the 83rd minute, but Didier Drogba equalized with a header five minutes later.
Neither team could score in extra time, so the game ended in a penalty shootout. Juan Mata missed the first free-kick for Chelsea, but David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole all scored.
Philipp Lahm, Mario Gomez and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer all scored for Bayern Munich, but the momentum changed in Chelsea’s favor after Ivica Olić’s effort was saved and Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post. Drogba stepped in to hit the winner in dramatic fashion.
Didier Drogba against Bayern Munich in 2012, a goal that no Chelsea fan will forget. The best night in our history. pic.twitter.com/kMceqV5kXX
– Back to Chelsea (@ThrowbackCFC) July 30, 2017
4) AC Milan 4 – 0 Barcelona, 1994
Despite missing seven key players, including Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi and Gianluigi Lentini, Milan stunned Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final.
Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona were heavy favorites to win their second European title in three years, but Daniele Massaro scored twice in the first half to give Milan an unexpected lead.
Dejan Savićević and Marcel Desailly then scored in the second half to earn a comprehensive victory over Barcelona.
3) Manchester United 1 – 1 (6-5A) Chelsea, 2008
Four years before Chelsea clinched European glory by beating Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout, the Blues suffered the reverse fate at the hands of Manchester United.
The Red Devils first took the lead through Cristiano Ronaldo, before Frank Lampard equalized just before half-time. The game went into extra time, with Didier Drogba and Lampard hitting the woodwork, and John Terry blocking a goal-bound shot from Ryan Giggs.
As the game progressed to the penalty shootout, Chelsea received a knock after Didier Drogba was sent off for slapping Nemanja Vidić. His presence was missed as Manchester United won the shootout, helped by misses from Terry and Nicolas Anelka.
John Terry mobilizes to win the @Champions League for Chelsea… BUT IT SLIPS! 😱
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) July 30, 2020
2) Wolfsburg 4 – 3 Tyresö, 2014
This seven-goal Women’s Champions League thriller is one for the ages. As defending champions, Wolfsburg were the favorites for victory, but their Swedish opponents gave them a hard time.
In fact, Marta opened the scoring for Tyresö, before Verónica Boquete doubled their lead. Wolfsburg led 2-0 at half-time, but they quickly turned things around in the second half.
Alexandra Popp made it 2-1 in the 47th minute, with Martina Müller equalizing just six minutes later.
Marta then made it 3-2, but that was to be the last time Tyresö led. Wolfsburg again equalized through Verena Faißt, before Müller netted the winner 10 minutes from full time.
1) Liverpool 3 – 3 (2-3G) AC Milan, 2005
There can be no disagreement that the clash between Liverpool and AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final is the greatest of them all.
At half-time, Liverpool lost 3-0. They were stunned by an early goal from Paolo Maldini and two strikes from Hernán Crespo.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 26, 2021
But Steven Gerrard inspired a legendary six-minute second-half comeback, reducing the deficit by a header in the 54th minute. Vladimír Šmicer scored just two minutes later, before Xabi Alonso equalized in the 60th minute.
The game went to extra time and a penalty shootout, during which goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek became Liverpool’s hero. He saved the efforts of Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko, helping his team win a European title.
It will be a long time before another Champions League final tops the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’.