UEFA Champions League: Ranking the Winners
The task is no easy one, and is one that has required quite a bit of thought. There is no scientific method toward the selection process in ranking the 18 teams that have walked away with the UEFA Champions League trophy since the tournament changed its name from the European Cup, starting with the 1992-93 season.
One key criteria that was taken into consideration was how dominating a team was, particularly on the defensive end.
In this time frame we have seen two clubs, Real Madrid and AC Milan, win the title three times. Barcelona and Manchester United have hoisted the famous trophy twice. Bayern Munich, Marseille, Ajax, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Liverpool and Internazionale have each won one time.
So without holding everyone any longer, here is the list from the "worst" to the best winners.
No. 18: Real Madrid 2000
Real Madrid's 2000 Champions League squad is the lowest ranking winner since the competition changed its name.
Real won its eighth European crown by defeating Valencia 3-0 in the final, which is certainly a solid result.
The club won Group E with 13 points in the first round, scoring 15 goals and giving up 7 in six matches.
In the second group stage, the Galacticos narrowly squeezed through to the final eight.
Real actually had a minus one goal differential and was tied on points with Dynamo Kiev, which had a plus two goal diferential. But the tie-breaker was head-to-head, in which Real had a one-goal victory and a tie against the Ukrainians.
Real Madrid defeated Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and Bayern Munich 3-2 on aggregate in the semifinals before defeating Valencia.
All together, Real played 17 Champions League matches for the season, scoring 35 times and allowing 23 goals.
No. 17: Manchester United 1999
While this was certainly one of the great comebacks in Champions League Finals history, Manchester United's 1999 squad was far from its best.
The squad opened the first round in Group D by finishing second behind Bayern Munich, the squad it would eventually defeat in the final.
The Red Devils did score 20 goals, but they also gave up 11.
In determining the final eight squads, Manchester United was the last team to get in as just two non-group winners advanced to the quarterfinals.
Manchester United defeated Inter Milan 3-1 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and Juventus 4-3 on aggregate in the semifinals, before scoring twice in the final three minutes to defeat Bayern Munich in the final.
The Red Devils finished their Champions League campaign by scoring 31 times and allowing 16 goals in 11 matches.
No. 16: AC Milan 2003
AC Milan's 2003 victory was not the best of its seven.
The Rossoneri started its Champions League campaign in the third qualification round, where it passed on away goals against Czech side Slovan Liberec.
Milan won Group G by virtue of goal differential over Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna.
The Rossoneri won Group C in the second group phase over Real Madrid, but lost twice in six matches.
AC Milan defeated Ajax 3-2 in the quarterfinals and defeated rival Internazionale 1-1 on away goals.
In the final, the Rossoneri outlasted Serie A rival Juventus 3-2 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
Milan finished the Champions League campaign having played 19 matches. The Rossoneri scored 26 goals and allowed 18 on the way to victory.
No. 15: Juventus 1996
Juventus had a solid, but not spectacular Champions League season in 1996.
The Bianconeri won Group C with 13 points, scoring 15 goals and allowed just four.
In the quarterfinals, Juventus knocked off Real Madrid 2-1 on aggregate.
In the semifinals, Juventus defeated Nantes 4-3.
And in the final, Juventus defeated Ajax 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 following 120 minutes.
No. 14: Borussia Dortmund 1997
Borussia Dortmund began its 1996-97 Champions League campaign by finishing second in Group B with 13 points, losing only only on differential to Atletico Madrid.
The German side defeated Auxerre 4-1 on aggregate. It went on to defeat Manchester United 2-0 in the semifinals.
In the final they outclassed Juventus 3-1.
For the Champions League campaign, Dortmund scored 23 goals and allowed 10 in 11 matches.
No. 13: Porto, 2004
This was coach Jose Mourinho's first Champions League-winning side.
Porto finished second in Group F behind Real Madrid in the opening round.
Porto then defeated Manchester United 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 16.
It went on to top Lyon 4-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 in the semifinals.
In the finals, Porto defeated another surprise finalist in Monaco, winning 3-0.
For the Champions League season, Porto played in 13 matches, scoring 20 times and allowing 12 goals.
No. 12: Liverpool 2005
Liverpool began its Champions League run in the third qualifying round when it defeated Austrian side AK Grazer 2-1 to move on to the group stages.
In Group A, Liverpool finished second finished second to Monaco with 10 points, scoring 6 goals and allowing three in six matches.
In the round of 16, Liverpool defeated Bayer Leverkusen 6-2 on aggregate.
In the quarterfinals, Liverpool defeated Juventus 2-1 on aggregate. In the semifinals, Liverpool topped Chelsea 1-0 on aggregate.
In the final, Liverpool overcame a three-goal deficit against AC Milan to send the game to penalties, where they won 3-2.
For the season, Liverpool played in 15 Champions League matches, scoring 20 times and allowing just 10 goals.
No. 11: Inter Milan 2010
Coached by Jose Mourinho, Inter finished second in Group F to Barcelona to begin the campaign.
In the round of 16 Inter topped Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate.
In the quarterfinals Inter defeated CSKA Moscow 2-0 on aggregate.
In the semifinals, Inter upset heavily favored defending champion Barcelona by winning 3-2 on aggregate.
In the final, Inter defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 on a pair of goals from Diego Milito.
For the campaign, Inter played 13 matches, scoring 17 times and allowing just nine goals.
No. 10: AC Milan 2007
The Rossoneri won Group H with 10 points, but they weren't spectacular. They scored eight goals and allowed four in the group stage.
Milan defeated Bayern Munich 4-2 in the quarterfinals and Manchester United 5-3 on aggregate in the semifinals.
Milan defeated Liverpool 2-1 in the final thanks to a pair of goals from Filippo Inzaghi.
For the season, Milan played 15 matches and outscored its opponents 23-11.
No. 9: Barcelona 2009
Barcelona began its campaign by winning Group C with 13 points, scoring 18 goals and allowing eight.
In the round of 16 Barcelona defeated Lyon 6-3 on aggregate. It moved on to defeat Bayern Munich 5-1 in the quarterfinals. In one of the best semifinal matchups ever, it passed Chelsea on away goals after the pair played to a 1-1 tie over two legs.
Barcelona won the final by defeating defending champion Manchester United 2-0.
For the Champions League season, Barcelona played 13 matches, scoring 32 times and allowing 13 goals.
No. 8: Bayern Munich 2001
Bayern began its Champions League campaign by winning Group F with 11 points. They scored nine times and allowed four goals in six matches.
They moved on and won Group C in the Second Group Phase with 13 points scoring eight goals and allowing five.
In the quarterfinals they defeated Manchester United 3-1 on aggregate and followed up with a 3-1 win over Real Madrid on aggregate in the semifinals.
In the finals, Bayern outlasted Valencia 5-4 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie after 120 minutes.
For the Champions League season, Bayern played 17 matches, scoring 24 times and allowing 12 goals.
No. 7: Real Madrid 2002
Real Madrid began its quest for the 2002 Champions League by winning Group A with 13 points.
Ironically, their first match was played on Sept. 11, 2001, when the world was in turmoil from the terrorist attacks on the United States.
The Galacticos got stronger in the second group stage, running away with Group C with 16 points.
Real defeated Bayern Munich 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and rival Barcelona 3-1 on aggregate in the semifinals.
In the final, it defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 thanks to a legendary goal from Zinedine Zidane.
For the Champions League campaign, Real played in 17 matches, scoring 35 goals and allowing 14.
No. 6: Manchester United 2008
Manchester United was a worthy champion, even if it took a slip by John Terry to help take home the trophy.
The Red Devils won Group F with 16 points to start its campaign.
United then moved on to the round of 16, where they defeated Lyon 2-1 on aggregate.
In the quarterfinals they defeated AS Roma 3-0 on aggregate, before defeating Barcelona in the semis 1-0 on aggregate.
In the final, they defeated Chelsea 6-5 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.
For the Champions League season, Manchester United played 13 matches, scoring 20 goals and allowing just six.
No. 5: Real Madrid 1998
This Real Madrid side began its Champions League campaign by winning Group D with 13 points.
In the quarterfinals, Real defeated Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 on aggregate.
In the semifinals, Real topped Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on aggregate.
In the final, Real Madrid defeated Juventus 1-0 on a 67th minute goal from Predrag Mijatovic.
For the Champions League season, Real played 11 matches and outscored its opponents 22-5.
No. 4: Ajax 1995
Ajax opened its Champions League campaign by winning Group D over AC Milan with 10 points.
Ajax defeated Hadjuk Split 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
Ajax then defeated Bayern Munich 5-2 on aggregate in the semifinals, before defeating AC Milan 1-0 in the final.
The run was certainly very impressive, as Ajax defeated defending champion AC Milan three times during the course of the tournament.
Over 11 matches in the Champions League for the season, Ajax outscored its opponents 18-4.
No. 3: Barcelona 2006
Barcelona was solid throughout its 2006 Champions League campaign.
They began by earning 16 points to win Group C.
Barcelona moved on to the round of 16 where it defeated Chelsea 3-2 on aggregate.
Barca then defeated Benfica 2-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and AC Milan 1-0 on aggregate in the semifinals.
In the finals, Barcelona defeated Arsenal 2-1.
For the Champions League season, Barcelona played 13 matches, scoring 24 times and allowing just five goals.
No. 2: Marseille 1993
Marseille was the very first winner of the Champions League under its new name and format.
They won 8-0 on aggregate over Northern Ireland side Glentoran in the first qualifying round.
The French side then moved on to defeat Dinamo Bucharest 2-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round.
Marseille won Group A with nine points (three victories, three ties). They outscored its opponents 14-4 in their group.
In the final, they defeated an incredible AC Milan team 1-0. AC Milan had allowed just one goal in 10 matches leading up to the final.
Marseille finished its Champions League campaign scoring 25 times and allowing just four goals in 11 matches.
No. 1: AC Milan 1994
AC Milan is easily the strongest side in the history of the Champions League under its new name.
Milan started with a 1-0 aggregate win over Swiss side FC Aarau in the first qualifying round.
Milan moved on to defeat Copenhagen 7-0 on aggregate in the second round.
In Group B, Milan won two times and tied four times. During this run, Milan scored six times and allowed just two goals.
Milan then defeated AS Monaco 3-0 in their semifinal matchup.
In the final, Milan played without both of its starting central defenders in Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta who were out due to yellow card suspension.
But Fabio Capello's Milan destroyed Barcelona, who was led by Romario, by a score of 4-0.
For the entire Champions League season, Milan played 12 games. It scored 21 goals and allowed just two.