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Liverpool's Miracle of Istanbul vs. Chelsea's Win over Barca: Which Was Greater?

Peter WebsterContributor IIIApril 30, 2012

Liverpool's Miracle of Istanbul vs. Chelsea's Win over Barca: Which Was Greater?

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    Liverpool completed a thrilling game against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final when they came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 and ultimately win on penalties.

    On the other hand, 10-man Chelsea found themselves down 2-0 in their second-leg semifinal tie against Barcelona before coming back to draw 2-2 and move on to the finals on aggregate (they had a 1-0 advantage from the first leg.)

    So, whose result was the more impressive? Who outshone the other? Can the two games be compared?

    Read on to find out.

Best Opposition

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    Who was playing the better team?

    At the time, Barcelona were the reigning Champions League holders, La Liga victors, holders of the European Super Cup and reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions.

    When AC Milan played Liverpool in 2005, the Italian club were the reigning Serie A champions and Supercoppa Italiana holders.

    Many considered Barcelona to be the best club side on the planet, so Chelsea probably had the hardest task on paper...barely.

Best Individuals

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    Chelsea had to contend with some big-named players in their hard-fought victory over Barcelona.

    Current Ballon d'Or recipient Lionel Messi is possibly the best player to ever don a football shirt and was surrounded by the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Alexis Sanchez.

    AC Milan weren't shy of talent either, fielding names such as Cafu, Paolo Maldini, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Rui Costa and Hernan Crespo.

    Again, Barcelona would probably pip AC Milan as having the best starting XI available.

Best Team Fielded

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    Chelsea had a much better team to select from than Liverpool did back in 2005.

    Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Ramires, Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Raul Meireles, Juan Mata and Didier Drogba are all recognised as full international players, with Fernando Torres, Jose Boswinga and Salomon Kalou coming off the bench to show Chelsea's international pedigree.

    Liverpool fielded Jerzy Dudek, Steve Finnan, Djimi Traore, Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise, Steven Gerrard, Luis Garcia, Xabi Alonso, Harry Kewell and Milan Baros to start the game, with Didi Hamann, Vladimir Smicer, and Djibril Cisse seeing the game out.

    While there are similar amounts of internationals on Liverpool's team sheet, the pedigree is certainly not the same as Chelsea's team.

Route to the Final

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    Chelsea topped their groups stages after being drawn with Bayer Leverkusen, Genk and Valencia.

    From there, the London club bypassed a tough Napoli side, negotiated themselves around Benfica in the quarterfinals and defeated Barcelona in the semifinals.

    Liverpool had finished second in their respective qualifying group behind Monaco, famously pipping Olympiacos to second place and way ahead of fourth-place Deportivo.

    Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea were all felled by Liverpool before they made the final against AC Milan.

Manner of Victory

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    Chelsea fought from being down 2-0 with 10 men against one of the best club sides in the world. They managed a 2-2 draw on the night and went through to the final, 3-2 on aggregate.

    Liverpool found themselves 3-0 at halftime against AC Milan back in 2005, but they didn't give up either. The Merseyside club fought back to 3-3 and then won an intense penalty shootout, 3-2.

    Both were incredible comebacks.

Achievement

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    There is no doubting that Liverpool's achievement was significantly better, because their victory was in order to win the Champions League trophy. Chelsea had only just made the final.

    The AC Milan team that Liverpool faced had just as much of a European reputation as Barcelona, and in fact, had made the final an incredible nine times, winning six trophies.

    Barcelona had four trophies to their name, with three runner-up finishes to back up their figures.

History

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    Liverpool's victory over AC Milan is widely considered to be one of the best comebacks in final history, surpassing anything that can be said about the manner of Chelsea's win.

    As impressive a result as Chelsea achieved, the occasion just doesn't compare.

    If it had been done in the Champions League final, then we could be having a very different conversation right now—but it wasn't, and we aren't.

    All in all, Chelsea deserve a huge amount of respect for what they achieved against Barcelona, but if they don't win the final, then it was all in vain.

    No one cares who won the semifinals—no matter what the results were—and the only way these two amazing games will ever truly be compared is if Chelsea win against Bayern Munich on May 19th.

    On Twitter? Follow me @petercwebster where I post all of my B/R content.

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