Ranking the Champions League Winners from the Last 10 Years

Matt Ladson@mattladsonFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Ranking the Champions League Winners from the Last 10 Years

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    Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid side overcome city rivals Atletico to lift the 2014 Champions League trophy, the Spanish club's first victory in the competition since 2002.

    The Real side featured the two most expensive footballers in the world—Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo—and a host of other top names from European football.

    But where does the Real side that won Europe's elite competition rank among the last 10 winners of the competition?

    We've taken the starting XI from the last 10 winners of the tournament to rank each team. The criteria involves the matchday squad only, so suspended or injured players were not taken into consideration.

    How the team performed throughout their respective competition was taken into consideration, as was how each individual player was performing respectively at that time.

    Here are the last 10 winning teams of the Champions League, ranked from No. 10 to No. 1. Where will the current Real XI come out on the list?

10. Liverpool (2005)

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    XI: Dudek, Finnan (Hamann), Hyypia, Carragher, Traore, Alonso, Garcia, Gerrard, Riise, Kewell (Smicer), Baros (Cisse).

    Let's be honest, even Liverpool fans still scratch their heads about how this side won Europe's top prize! The final itself was one of, if not the best we've ever seen, but in terms of actual quality of the playing side, this made the achievement even more incredible.

    Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher and Xabi Alonso provided the class to this side, but the fact that Djimi Traore, Vladimir Smicer, Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros were key players in this success makes this Liverpool side from 2005 rank 10th on this list.

    This was a mediocre team, proven by being the only one not to qualify for the following season's Champions League via their domestic league that year.

9. AC Milan (2007)

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    XI: Dida, Oddo, Nesta, Maldini, Jankulosvski (Kaladze), Gatusso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf (Favalli), Kaka, Inzaghi (Gilardino).

    The Milan side that exacted revenge on Liverpool for that defeat in 2005 two years later was a good team, but not the best due to most of their key players being on the decline in 2007.

    It was ageing side—one that, in all honesty, Liverpool should have beaten.

    Mind you, a team featuring Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Kaka isn't the worst, either.

8. Chelsea (2012)

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    XI: Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou (Torres), Mata, Bertrand (Malouda), Drogba.

    The Chelsea side that upset the odds to defeat Bayern Munich on their home turf in 2012 was one that largely did so due to the tactics they employed rather than the players being superior.

    Yes, there were top players such as Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Juan Mata and Ashley Cole in the XI, but there were also key players like Jose Bosingwa, Jon Obi Mikel, Kalou and Ryan Bertrand.

    An underdog side with some quality around the edges.

7. Barcelona (2006)

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    XI: Valdes, Oleguer (Beletti), Marquez, Puyol, van Bronckhorst, Edmilson (Iniesta), Deco, van Bommel (Larsson), Giuly, Ronaldinho, Eto'o.

    The Barcelona side that saw off Arsenal late on in Paris in 2006 was one that had yet to reach the heights that were to follow shortly after under Pep Guardiola's reign.

    Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Carles Puyol are the standout names in this side.

6. Man United (2008)

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    XI: Van Der Sar, Brown (Anderson), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Hargraves, Scholes (Giggs), Carrick, Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney (Nani).

    The attacking trio of Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo are what made this Man United side one of their best in recent times.

    This XI saw off Chelsea in the 2008 final in Moscow and also featured the impressive centre-back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

5. Inter Milan (2010)

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    XI: Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivo (Stankovic), Zanetti, Cambiasso, Sneijder, Eto'o, Milito (Materazzi), Pandev (Muntari).

    Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan side that beat Bayern Munich in the final in 2010 was an impressive side, made even more effective by Mourinho's management.

    Wesley Sneijder was, at the time, arguably Europe's top attacking midfielder, while Diego Milito capped a fine season with two goals in the final itself.

    Javier Zanetti got the European success his career deserved, and Samuel Eto'o added more goals to the side.

4. Barcelona (2009)

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    XI: Valdes, Puyol, Toure, Pique, Sylvinho, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta (Pedro), Messi, Henry (Keita), Eto'o.

    Now were talking about quality sides as we enter the Final Four.

    This Barcelona one was dynamic, fierce, growing in stature and dominant.

    The midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta was entering its prime, while Lionel Messi was flourishing up front.

    Thierry Henry added class and experience, and captain Carles Puyol actually lined up at full-back, with Yaya Toure at centre-back alongside Gerard Pique.

3. Real Madrid (2014)

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    XI: Casillas, Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Coentrao (Marcelo), Modric, Khedira (Isco), di Maria, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema (Morata).

    This year's winning team makes it into the top three, featuring Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in an explosive front three that would scare any defence.

    An in-form Sergio Ramos, aided by the emerging talent of Raphael Varane, provides a good base for the defence, while Luka Modric had an excellent campaign under Carlo Ancelotti.

2. Bayern Munich (2013)

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    XI: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Muller, Ribery (Gustavo), Mandzukic (Gomez).

    Last year's winners, Bayern Munich, were a superb side. One of the best we've seen in Europe in recent years.

    Performing at the peak of their powers with ruthless efficiency, it was a team that lacked any standout names, such as Ronaldo or Messi, but instead had a host of quality players who did their jobs perfectly for the team.

    Philipp Lahm, arguably the best full-back in the world, Manuel Neuer, arguably the best keeper in Europe, attacking wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben performed expertly on either side.

    Jupp Heynckes deserves credit for how well his Bayern side of 2013 performed. Don't forget—this lot beat Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-final!

1. Barcelona (2011)

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    XI: Valdes, Alves (Puyol), Mascherano, Pique, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa (Keita), Messi, Pedro (Afellay).

    When we talk about the most impressive teams the world has ever seen, this Barcelona side is up there with the very best. Many pundits spoke how, in their opinion, this was the best club team ever after Pep Guardiola's side produced a masterclass to defeat Man United in the final.

    It's difficult to disagree.

    There isn't a weak link in this XI; the same midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta were now in full force. Messi was at the peak of his game, assisted by David Villa and Pedro.

    Speaking after the final, defeated boss Alex Ferguson claimed it was the best side he'd ever faced in his time as manager.