Ranking the Champions League Finals from the Last 10 Years

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2014

Ranking the Champions League Finals from the Last 10 Years

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    The 2014 Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid produced a dramatic ending, but where does it rank among the most recent European finals of the last decade?

    Europe's elite competition often delivers a dramatic finale, with memorable games, goals and moments being evoked simply by naming a year or stadium. Say "Istanbul" or "2005" to any Liverpool supporter, and they will immediately recall memories of Xabi Alonso, Vladimir Smicer and Steven Gerrard's goals.

    That night in Istanbul was nine years ago, and we've had some dramatic finals since then too.

    Using a criteria of drama, entertainment value, whether an underdog won, the match itself and, of course, goals, we rank the last 10 Champions League finals—featuring three penalty shootouts and successes for three English sides, two Italian, two Spanish and one side from Germany.

10. AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool (2007)

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    After suffering the incredible comeback defeat to Liverpool two years earlier, Carlo Ancelotti's AC Milan side got their revenge over Rafa Benitez's Liverpool in Athens' Olympic Stadium in 2007.

    Two goals from veteran striker Filippo Inzaghi gave the Italians the victory, with Dirk Kuyt's header in the 89th minute proving nothing more than a consolation goal.

    The match itself lacked any real drama as Benitez's side failed to deliver on the biggest stage.

9. Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal (2006)

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    Paris was the scene of Barcelona's first European Cup victory in 14 years.

    The match is most remembered for Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehman's dismissal after just 18 minutes, and full-back Juliano Belletti's winning goal 10 minutes from time.

    Arsene Wenger's side actually held the lead for a long period despite being down to 10 men, after Sol Campbell's headed goal before half-time.

    Samuel Eto'o equalised on 76 minutes, though, and five minutes later Belletti hit the winner as Arsenal tired.

    A dramatic match but not as dramatic as some of the others in the last decade.

8. Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United (2009)

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    Perhaps less dramatic than the 2006 final, but the 2009 final saw two heavyweights of the game go head-to-head.

    Manchester United and Barcelona were dominant in their respective domestic leagues, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—widely regarded as the two best footballers on the planet—were facing off against each other on the biggest stage.

    It was the Argentinian Messi who took the headlines, rising incredibly to head home the second goal after Eto'o had opened the scoring early on.

    An unexpectedly simple victory for Barca gave them their second European Cup in four years.

7. Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund (2013)

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    Wembley saw the two heavyweights of German football do battle for Europe's biggest prize.

    Jupp Heynckes' side ultimately got victory over Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund men courtesy of Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner.

    There was added depth to the drama in this one due to Mario Goetze's controversial move from Dortmund to Munich having been announced prior to the game.

6. Inter Milan 2-0 Bayern Munich (2010)

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    The Bernabeu saw two of the world's best managers go head to head: Jose Mourinho vs. Louis van Gaal.

    Mourinho's side completed a memorable season, following up Serie A success with Inter's third European Cup.

    Wesley Sneijder was awarded the fans' player of the match award, but Argentine Diego Milito took the official UEFA award having scored both goals.

    This was a superb, entertaining game of football, and Inter's play was deserving of the top prize.

5. Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (2014)

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    Rarely do we have two teams from the same country in a European final, but never before had two teams from the same city met on the highest stage.

    For so long it looked like Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid side were to complete an incredible season, having already won La Liga the week before. Diego Godin's goal in the first half left the underdogs in the driving seat.

    That was until Sergio Ramos rose to head home a corner in the 93rd minute and send the match to extra time. After a very uneventful 92 minutes, the match sprung into life.

    Gareth Bale headed Real into the lead with 10 minutes remaining of extra time, before Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty gave the scoreline a very flattering look for the victors.

    This certainly ended up providing the drama and goals, but for much of the game it lacked any real entertainment value.

4. Chelsea 1-1 Bayern Munich (2012)

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    The scene was set for Bayern Munich to complete a perfect season by winning the Champions League final in their home stadium in 2012.

    But Chelsea stole the show and ripped up the script to eventually take the spoils in a penalty shootout.

    Rarely do Germans lose a penalty shootout, making this even more the dramatic end to the match.

    Didier Drogba scored the equalising goal for Roberto Di Matteo's side and also hit the winning penalty—his final kick of the ball for the Londoners—talk about a fairytale ending.

    Chelsea were victorious while Bayern were left heartbroken in their own stadium. A huge upset.

3. Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (2008)

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    Moscow was the scene as Manchester United overcome English rivals Chelsea to claim Europe's biggest prize.

    Cristiano Ronaldo gave United the lead, but Frank Lampard equalised for the Londoners. The match ended 1-1, and extra time couldn't separate the sides either.

    So to penalties, and one of the most dramatic shootouts. With the rain adding to the dramatic scene, John Terry memorably slipped as he missed the opportunity to hit the winning spot-kick for his club.

    Nicolas Anelka was the man who eventually missed his kick to give United victory, 6-5 on penalties.

    Terry was left in tears as Sir Alex Ferguson finally got his hands on his second European Cup victory.

2: Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United (2011)

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    This game ranks so highly because of the style of football that was produced by Pep Guardiola's Barcelona side.

    This was Barcelona at their absolute best and Guardiola's team in their prime, dominating and providing a show of the highest quality of football.

    Pedro's goal gave the Spaniards the lead, but Wayne Rooney's equaliser shortly after meant Man United looked like they may cause what would have been a relative upset, with United seeking to gain revenge for when Barca beat them in the 2009 final two years earlier.

    But Messi's goal from distance and David Villa's superb strike gave Barca the deserved victory.

    "In my time as a manager, I would say they're the best team we've faced," admitted Alex Ferguson post-match, as reported by Dominic Fifield in The Guardian. "No one has given us a hiding like that. It's a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football."

1. Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (2005)

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    Istanbul, the scene of Liverpool's fifth European Cup success in 2005.

    Rafa Benitez's Liverpool side produced one of the greatest comebacks European football has ever witnessed, coming from three goals down to Carlo Ancelotti's AC Milan.

    The Italians raced into a three-goal lead courtesy of a goal from captain Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo double.

    Liverpool looked dead and buried.

    But a stirring second half that saw The Reds score three goals in six minutes meant the match went to extra time, before the drama of the penalty shoot out.

    Jerzy Dudek proved the hero, memorably saving Andriy Shevchenko's spot-kick to seal victory.

    The most dramatic and entertaining Champions League final of the past 10 years, and arguably ever.