Ranking Real Madrid's Best Champions League Nights at Santiago Bernabeu

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 02: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 2, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

If there's one club not short on history, memories and great moments in the UEFA Champions League, it's Real Madrid.

They have won more European Cups than any other side, and factoring in just the Champions League era they are the current team to beat, with three titles in the last four seasons and becoming the only team to retain the trophy.

The finals come on neutral venues, but along the paths to success there have been some incredible nights played out at the Santiago Bernabeu; matches that left the fans jubilant, confident and proud of their team.

Here we run down the 10 most memorable nights under the lights in Spain's capital city, with Real Madrid's best Champions League-era moments on home soil.

              

10. 2-0 vs. Grasshopper Club Zurich, 1995

Denis Doyle/Associated Press

The first Champions League victory should always hold a special place in the memory banks, and for Real Madrid that perhaps means even more since they weren't in the first tournaments after the changed format.

A victory over Swiss side Grasshopper Club Zurich came courtesy of an Ivan Zamorano brace and welcomed Champions League football to the Bernabeu in style.

This was the first home group-stage game the stadium had hosted, as only one side per nation entered at the time, and Barcelona had been the dominant force in Spain.

            

9. 3-0 vs. Galatasaray, 2001

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 18:  Real Madrid's Raul (L), who scored two goals during the game,  fights for the ball with Istanbul Galatasaray's Kaya Suat 18 April 2001, during their Champions League quarter final second leg match in Madrid. Real Madrid won 3-0
MARC ALEX/Getty Images

In 2000/01, the format was still a case of group stage and then straight to the quarter-finals—and Real Madrid were struggling against Galatasaray, 3-2 down after the first leg despite having originally worked a two-goal lead.

Back on home soil, fans got to witness a memorable comeback, the sort of story which can live long after the event, as Real swarmed all over their Turkish opponents and emerged with a 3-0 victory.

Raul scored twice and Ivan Helguera grabbed another, and Real Madrid marched on.

               

8. 2-0 vs. Borussia Dortmund, 1998

19 Sep 1998:  Fernando Morientes of Real Madrid in action during a match against Barcelona in Madrid, Spain. The game ended in a draw 2-2. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason /Allsport
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Semi-finals can be tense, nervous affairs, but they are also extremely exciting for supporters with the sense of anticipation and buildup.

The first leg against Borussia Dortmund in 1998 was everything Real could have hoped for; cagey but with quality and end product on their side, resulting in a 2-0 victory over their German rivals.

Fernando Morientes and Christian Karembeu did the damage, before a 0-0 draw in the return saw Real through to the final where they beat Juventus.

              

7. 4-0 vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2011

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 05:  Emmanuel Adebayor of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his second goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg match between Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 5, 2011 in Madrid
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Having suffered a lean period in the previous campaigns when they were beaten by the likes of Roma, Lyon and Liverpool to miss out on the quarter-finals, they finally made it back to the last eight and faced an exciting Tottenham Hotspur side that had vanquished AC Milan in the previous round.

The Bernabeu had long demanded improvement by this point, but here they finally got it: a walloping 4-0 win, all but guaranteeing passage to the semi-finals at the halfway point in the tie.

Emmanuel Adebayor's early goal set the tone, and the Togolese striker scored another before Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo wrapped things up.

                

6. 3-1 vs. Manchester United, 2003

PAUL WHITE/Associated Press

One of the most memorable ties in Champions League history, Manchester United came to the Bernabeu as one of the more feared sides in Europe in the early 2000s.

Real Madrid promptly tore them apart.

The quarter-final first leg ended up 3-1 to Los Blancos, Luis Figo and a Raul brace hitting the goals, and the home fans were delighted in the panache and exuberance shown by their Galacticos—setting up a tremendous second leg that ended 4-3 to United, and 6-5 to Real on aggregate.

              

5. 2-0 vs. Bayern Munich, 2000

9 May 2000:  Nicolas Anelka of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring the vital away goal during the Bayern Munich v Real Madrid Champions League Semi-Final second legat the Olympic Stadium, Munich, Germany. Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Another semi-final for Real Madrid, and once more it was German opposition who blocked their path to the final.

Bayern Munich couldn't hold back the white tide, though, and the Bernabeu witnessed a redemption of sorts for Nicolas Anelka, troubled all season long but scorer of the opening goal just a few minutes in, before a Jens Jeremies own goal doubled the lead.

Travelling back to Bavaria for the second leg was never going to be easy, but Real fans left the Bernabeu in high spirits, full of confidence after the clean sheet—and so it proved, as the team went through 3-2 on aggregate before beating Valencia in the final.

                 

4. 3-0 vs. Borussia Dortmund, 2014

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 02: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid goes past Erik Durm of Borussia Dortmund during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 2, 2014 in Madrid,
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti's side had impressed throughout the competition in 2013/14, but Dortmund were the first big test of the knockout stage with their fast-paced football and talented attack.

Real Madrid were pretty good too, though, and wiped the floor with BVB thanks to strikes from Gareth Bale, Isco and Ronaldo.

The three-goal cushion proved necessary as Dortmund mounted a spirited comeback in the second leg, but Real held out and went on to the semis and final, where they beat Atletico Madrid in Lisbon.

              

3. 3-0 vs. Wolfsburg, 2016

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 12:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates his second goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg match between Real Madrid CF and VfL Wolfsburg at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 12, 2016 in Madrid, Spain
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Now under Zinedine Zidane's rule, Madrid were expected to cruise past Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals but suffered a shock 2-0 defeat in the first leg in Germany. In truth, it could have been far worse.

Los Blancos rallied at home for the second leg, though, spurred on by a Ronaldo brace inside 20 minutes—the deficit was wiped out and Real were back on level terms.

The fans believed the improbable could happen, and it duly did: Ronaldo completed his hat-trick 15 minutes from time and Real strode on to the last four, where they saw off Manchester City to meet, and beat, Atletico in the final for the second time in three seasons.

                

2. 2-0 vs. Bayern Munich, 2002

MADRID - 4 AUGUST:  Raul of Real Madrid in action during the Real Madrid Centenary Tournament Final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain on August 4, 2002. (photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

One year earlier, Bayern had knocked holders Real Madrid out of the Champions League. Die Roten went on to win the tournament—and now Los Blancos faced them again.

If revenge was on the cards, the late stages of the first leg would have left Real feeling cold; two late Bayern strikes meant they led 2-1 heading back to the Bernabeu.

However, a big second-half showing saw Real emerge triumphant, 2-0 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate, exacting revenge by knocking out the champions and striding on towards another success.

              

1. 1-1 vs. Barcelona, 2002

23 Apr 2002:  Frank De Boer of Barcelona tackles Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the Barcelona v Real Madrid Champions League semi-final, first leg at the Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, Spain . DIGITAL IMAGE.  Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/GettyIm
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A first meeting between the great Spanish rivals in the Champions League era could barely have come at a bigger moment: the semi-finals, everything on the line, a home game apiece.

After triumphing 2-0 in the Camp Nou in the first leg, Real knew Barca would give it everything at the Bernabeu, and so they did—but Real were stronger, scoring first and holding out for a 1-1 draw to progress on aggregate.

Reaching the final would have been sweet enough, but to deny your greatest rivals at the same time? That is priceless.

              

Twitter.com/karlmatchett

Facebook.com/karlmatchett.football