Greatest La Liga Wins in UCL History

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIIAugust 3, 2013

Greatest La Liga Wins in UCL History

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    La Liga teams have picked up some great wins in the Champions League throughout the years, en route to six titles since the 1992/93 edition of the tournament.

    We'll go season by season to pick out the greatest La Liga winssome seasons don't make the cut at alland we'll put in one or two honorable mentions as well.

    The usual suspects, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia, put together some impressive results against other top teams, but there are plenty of surprises as well. The likes of Mallorca and Celta Vigo pop up a few times to make this quite an interesting list.

    Except in one instance, Spanish victories over Spanish teams will not be considered.

    The impact and importance of the win, whether it was the group stages or the final, are considered.

    Whether they were overcoming the odds against superior teams, coming out on top during tough knockout legs or simply sending a statement, these are the greatest La Liga wins in UCL history.

    Unless otherwise stated, all statistics, lineups and match results courtesy of

1997/98 Champions League Season

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    Juventus vs. Real Madrid: Final

    Real Madrid prevailed in a tight final, against an extremely tough opponent in the form of a Juventus side led by Alessandro Del Piero. Madrid did this after defeating the reigning champions, Borussia Dortmund, in the semi-final.

    Their 1-0 victory gave La Liga its first title in the Champions League era, and Madrid its seventh.

1999/00 Champions Leage Season

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    Real Madrid vs. Valencia: Final

    It may not have been a happy ending for one Spanish side, but La Liga in general couldn't have had a better victory.

    An all-Spanish final, after one team defeated another La Liga side—Valencia over Barcleona—and another defeated the previous winners of the tournament—Real Madrid over Manchester United—showed that there was plenty of strength in the league heading into the 21st century.

    Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Quarter-Finals, Second Leg

    Just as they defeated Borussia Dortmund in the 1997/98 season, Real Madrid defeated the defending champions, Manchester United. After nullifying them away from, Madrid picked up a fantastic 3-2 win over the English side. 

    That result gave the momentum to reach the final and produce another great La Liga win on the way.

    Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich: Semi-Finals, First Leg

    Real Madrid were handily beaten by Bayern Munich when they met during the second group stage of the tournament. 

    After defeating Manchester United, Madrid went on to defeat the German side and basically put the tie to bed. After this victory, Madrid were the favorites to win the title.

    Barcelona vs. Chelsea: Quarter-Finals, Second Leg

    The Camp Nou served as the theater for one of Barcelona's, and La Liga's, most impressive wins in Champions League history.

    Barcelona lost the first leg at Stamford Bridge 3-1, and were in serious danger of going out. An attacking show, led by Rivaldo, resulted in a 5-1 to victory after extra time.

    Honorable Mention

    Valencia vs. Lazio: Quarter-Finals, First Leg

    Valencia's march to the final of the 1999/00 edition of the Champions League took a major boost with their 5-2 victory over Lazio.

    The Estadio Mestalla served as the venue for a clash between two teams with some great talent. Gerard scored a hat-trick, as the Spanish side defeated a Lazio squad that was on the way to a Serie A title.

2001/02 Champions League Season

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    Real Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen: Final

    Real Madrid picked up their third title in five seasons, highlighting a time where La Liga was incredibly strong in the competition. A tightly contested match against Bayer Leverkusen was decided by a fantastic goal from Zinedine Zidane.

    Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich: Quarter-Finals, Second Leg

    Bayern Munich knocked Real Madrid in the previous season, and the Spanish side got to return the favor during the 2001/02 season. They had to come back in the second leg to do it, picking up a 2-0 win at home.

    Deportivo La Coruna vs. Manchester United and Manchester United vs. Deportivo La Coruna: Group Stage

    Deportivo La Coruna gave Manchester United a taste of its own medicine, coming from behind in two games in the group stages to eventually go to the top of the group.

    The Spanish side certainly had talent in the squad but wasn't expected to win, or at least, not to come from behind to win. Twice. 

2003/04 Champions League Season

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    Deportivo vs. Juventus: Round of 16, First and Second Leg

    Deportivo La Coruna's two 1-0 wins over one of the finalists in the 2002/03 edition provided further proof to the footballing world of the strength in La Liga. Roy Makaay was no longer available to the side, yet they still managed to defeat a superior side twice over two legs.

    Deportivo vs. AC Milan: Quarter-Finals, second leg 

    After a 4-1 defeat in the first leg, few would have faulted Deportivo La Coruna for lying down and letting results progress as expected. Instead, they defeated the reigning champions with a spectacular display of football. They were on top from Walter Pandian's goal in the fifth minute, until Fran's strike 15 minutes from time.

    Honorable Mention

    AC Milan vs. Celta Vigo: Group Stage

    This win meant a little bit more on a personal note for Celta Vigo than it did for all of La Liga. In their first entry into the competition, Celta Vigo defeated a giant and progressed to the knockout rounds. 

    The impact was similar to that of Deportivo's win over Juventus, as it was a sign that there was plenty of talent in La Liga.

2005/06 Champions League Season

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    Barcelona vs. Arsenal: Final 

    A tournament victory is a big win for a league every time, and the fact that Arsenal was a man down after 20 minutes does not take away from Barcelona's triumph.

    The English side took the lead despite the disadvantage, and one can argue that they should have held on. Barcelona showed great spirit to fight back and eventually claim the crown. 

    Villarreal vs. Inter Milan: Quarter-Finals, Second Leg

    Villarreal's run to the semi-final in their first Champions League season was a big win overall for La Liga. The best moment came when the Yellow Submarines sealed their passage to the last four with a victory over a heavily favored Inter side.

    Honorable Mention

    Betis vs. Chelsea: Group Stage

    As with Celta Vigo's victory over Milan, this victory was one to cherish more on a personal note for the club involved. Betis' win over Chelsea did give them a fighting chance to make it out of the group stage and showed the football world that, sometimes, money alone can't help teams win.

2008/09 Champions League Season

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    Barcelona vs. Manchester United: Final

    The crowning achievement for a magnificent club season for Barcelona, the win in the Champions League final also marked a great moment for Spain. It gave La Liga its fifth title in the Champions League since the 1992/93 season, putting them ahead of the Serie A by one.

    Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich: Quarter-Finals, First Leg

    The 4-0 defeat of Bayern Munich served as the game where Barcelona really announced their return to the top of the football world. 

    It was an impressive statement from the Spanish side, and it was signaled the birth of something big going on in the Iberian country.

    Honorable Mention

    Barcelona vs. Lyon: Round of 16, Second Leg

    Barcelona hammered continual Champions League dark horses Lyon with a 5-2 victory, leading 4-1 after the first half.

    The scoreline may have looked a little respectable at the end, but the Blaugrana were in complete control throughout

2009/10 Champions League Season

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    Barcelona vs. Arsenal: Quarter-Finals, Second Leg

    Though Barcelona were expected to win this tie, Arsenal halted everyone's thoughts of a demolition as they held their own to pick up a 2-2 draw at home.

    Unfortunately for them, they woke the La Liga giants from their slumber, as Barcelona ran out 4-1 winners thanks to four splendid Lionel Messi goals. Even though Arsenal scored first in that tie, the Spanish side was in complete control throughout the game. 

2010/11 Champions League Season

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    Barcelona vs. Manchester United: Final

    The repeat of the final from 2008/09 showed that Spanish sides still had the upper-hand over English teams. Barcelona ran out 3-1 victors over the soon-to-be Premier League champions.

    With that win, Barcelona again put La Liga ahead of the Serie A in the race for most titles in the Champions League.

    Barcelona vs. Shakhtar Donetsk: Quarter-Finals, First Leg

    The general feeling from this game was that Barcelona would win, yet be troubled by the pace and creativity of Shakhtar Donetsk. The Spanish side made sure few would doubt them moving forward.

    An emphatic 5-1 victory put the tie to bed and, for good measure, Barcelona produced a 1-0 victory in the second leg. Whether clubs are favoured or not, it's hard to produce such commanding performances in a competition like the Champions League.

    Honorable Mentions

    Real Madrid vs. Tottenham: Quarter-Finals, First Leg

    Real Madrid showcased its returning strength with a resounding victory over Tottenham. Spurs had a solid team, but the Spanish giants made another case for La Liga against the Premier League with that win.

    Barcelona vs. Arsenal: Round of 16, Second Leg

    For the second season running, Barcelona defeated Arsenal with a dominant display at home. The Spanish side was in a bit of trouble heading into the second leg, with a 2-1 loss in London, but broke through the spirited English side

2011/12 Champions League Season

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    Barcelona vs. Bayer Leverkusen: Round of 16, Second Leg

    Barcelona produced one of the best Champions League performances to date, with a 7-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen. What makes it even more impressive is that it was done in the knockout stages, and the club was already in control of the tie after a 3-1 victory in the first leg.

    Honorable Mentions

    Real Madrid vs. Dinamo Zagreb: Group Stage

    Real Madrid's domination of Dinamo Zagreb was expected, though not to the tune of four goals inside 20 minutes and six goals in 66 minutes.

    Two late Zagreb goals make the 6-2 scoreline a little less demoralizing, but Madrid's dominance was great evidence of La Liga at its best.

    Valencia vs. Genk: Group stage

    In a match that was a little more even on paper than Real Madrid vs. Dinamo Zagreb, Valencia got in on the high-scoring act with a 7-0 victory.

    The Estadio Mestalla became the venue for Valencia to make the football world stand up and take notice just a little bit more at La Liga. 

2012/13 Champions League Season

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    Barcelona vs. AC Milan: Round of 16, Second Leg

    Barcelona produced a quite emphatic comeback in this tie, with a 4-0 victory over Milan in the second leg. The Italian side brutally exposed Barcelona's weakness in the first game, but La Liga triumphed in the end.

    Malaga vs. Porto: Round of 16, Second Leg

    Just as others had done before in their debut campaigns, Malaga surprised, and impressed, during the 2012/13 seasons. They came from behind in the tie to defeat Champions League regulars Porto, and send themselves to the quarter-finals.

    It was a hard-fought win in the end, but a deserved one for Malaga, and a great one for La Liga.