Liverpool vs AC Milan, the standout as we look at the ranking of the top 10 best UCL final ever from 1992 to 2023.
The current UEFA Champions League (UCL) took its current revamped form in 1992-93. Since then, we have seen 30 UCL finals where stakes have been high, emotions being at their peak, and champions making or breaking during those finals.
This year’s final is all set to take place on June 10th between Manchester City and Inter Milan. Will Inter Milan make it 4 UCL titles to their name, or will we get a new UCL champion in the form of Manchester City? The answer to this question depends on how that UCL final night unfolds in Istanbul.
As there are still a few weeks left to find the winner of this edition, let’s revisit all the UEFA Champions League finals since the revamp of UCL in 1992. We would select the best 10 UCL final ever from 1992 to 2023, and look at their ranking.
Ranking Top 10 Best UCL Final Ever of Modern Era (1992-2023)
#10: Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund – London (2013)
Bayern Munich left the disappointment of coming short at the final stage of the previous edition by winning the first-ever all-German final against Dortmund. None of the teams were able to break the deadlock in the first half with Mandžukić scoring the first goal of the match at the hour mark.
Gündoğan, who is all set to play one more UCL final in the coming June, leveled the score for Yellow Submarines with the spot kick in the 68th minute. As it is said that sports is a great leveler, Robben who missed the penalty in extra time of the previous final sealed the victory this time for Bayern Munich with an excellent goal in the 89th minute.
#9: Juventus vs Ajax – Rome (1996)
Ajax, the defending champions were looking strong to retain their title in Rome. But it was Juventus, who took the lead when Ravanelli scored a goal from a cool finish with a very acute angle to aim for in the 12th minute. Ajax leveled in the first half itself from the goal by Litmanen in the 41st minute. The scoreline remained intact, and the game was decided in penalties where Juventus edged passed Ajax with a score of 4-2 in penalties.
#8: Barcelona vs Manchester United – Rome (2009)
2008 was the time when Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi comparison was at a nascent stage. Just then, the 2008 final saw Ronaldo scoring in the finals and winning it for Manchester United. His rival, Messi in 2009 scored at the biggest stage to win it for his club Barcelona.
Barcelona took the lead only in the 10th minute when Eto’o scored a superb goal from an equally beautiful pass from Iniesta. The Red Devils were not at their usual best and had only two attempts on target in the whole match. When Messi scored on the brilliantly calculated cross received from Xavi in the 70th minute, it was all over for the defending Champions Manchester United with the final scoreline reading 2-0.
#7: Barcelona vs Arsenal – Paris (2006)
Final with no shortage of drama. Arsenal Goalkeeper Lehmann paid the price with the first red card ever of the European Champions Club final on bringing down Eto’o in the 18th minute. Against the odds, 10 men Arsenal took the lead in the 37th minute through Sol Cambell’s header.
But it was Barcelona who kept their nerves. The tired legs of the Gunners finally gave up in the last quarter. Heartbreak for the Gunners came when substitute Larsson provided two beautiful assists to Eto’o and Belletti in a span of 5 minutes to take Barcelona home with a scoreline of 2-1.
#6: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – Lisbon (2014)
The scoreline of this match will not reflect the competitiveness and fierceness of this encounter. It was an all-Spanish final but between two arch-rival clubs from the same city of Madrid. Atletico took the lead in the 36th minute at the expense of a mistake from Real Madrid captain and keeper Casillas in judging the ball. Scoreline remained 1-0 until the 93rd minute when Ramos equalized from the header.
It took Atletico Madrid by surprise as they did the mistake of putting their shutter down before the final whistle. They paid the price for it and Real Madrid scored not one but three more goals in extra time when Bale, Marcelo, and Ronaldo added salt to the wounds of Atletico Madrid’s side that was thinking of winning the cup a few minutes earlier.
#5: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid – Milan (2016)
Same opponents in the final, but just after one season in between. It was hyped in the media to be a revenge opportunity for Atletico Madrid. But things didn’t work that way in sports. After all, the only thing that matters is which team shows up better on the field during the course of play.
This time Real Madrid took the lead when their star defender scored in yet another UCL final in the 15th minute of the game. It took more than 1 hour to level the score for Atletico Madrid when Carrasco scored in the 79th minute. The match had gone to the wire, and ultimately Real Madrid come on the winning side one more time as they won 5-3 on penalties.
#4: Manchester United vs Chelsea – Moscow (2008)
Manchester and London-based clubs took their rivalry to the next level when they fought an all-English final at Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow in 2008. Red Devils took the lead through the emphatic header goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. But Lampard leveled the score on the edge of the halftime.
None of the teams created clear-cut chances in the second half. Though both teams looked worn out in extra time still they gave their all. A few minutes before the end of extra time, the Blues had to deal with the blow as one of the sure-shot penalty takers Drogba was red-carded. In the end, Manchester United won the penalty shoot-out with a scoreline of 6-5 while heavy rains were pouring in Moscow.
#3: Chelsea vs Bayern Munich – Munich (2012)
What a Champions League night that was! European Giants, Bayern were playing the final at their home against a side that came close to winning it a couple of times but couldn’t succeed. Muller opened the deadlock when he scored on a header in the 83rd minute. Chelsea wasted no time in leveling as Drogba headed a goal at the near post from a corner taken by Mata.
But the drama didn’t end there as Drogba fouled Ribbery in the first half of extra time, and a penalty was awarded to Bayern Munich. Robben’s shoot was well saved by Čech. Another final went down to the wire and this time, but Chelsea were on the winning side with a score of 4-3 in the penalty shoot-out. The victory marked the first-ever European Cup for Chelsea.
#2: Manchester United vs Bayern Munich – Barcelona (1999)
A game of late, in fact very late comeback. It looked like it was all over for Red Devils when they were trailing 1-0 and only 2 minutes of regular time was there to play. Bayern Munich fans were all singing the glory songs. The German side had one hand on the trophy. But as they say that ‘it is never over till it’s over’ and so was the case in this match.
Bayern took the early lead when Basler scored through a free kick in the 6th minute. Then Bayern Munich kept on building pressure on the English side but somehow couldn’t beat the United keeper Peter Schmeichel, and the scoreline remained 1-0 for the most part of the game. But substitutes Sheringham and Solskjaer turned out to be masterstrokes of legendary Manager Sir Alex Ferguson. They scored in 90+1 and 90+3 minutes respectively to snatch the win from the jaws of defeat.
#1: Liverpool vs AC Milan – Istanbul (2005)
‘Miracle of Istanbul’– A game like no other. AC Milan were favorites to win the finals with the kind of lineup they had against the young Liverpool team. Many believed that game was over by the halftime when scoreline read 3-0. Maldini scored in the very first minute of the game, and it looked like Reds forgot to show up on the pitch.Milan completely dominated the game in the first half and two more goals from Crespo before halftime made things worse for Liverpool.
But after halftime, it was a different ball game. Liverpool’s side looked all charged up with captain Gerrard leading from the front. What spectators saw in the span of six minutes from 54’ to 60’ was unbelievable to the eyes as the scoreline changed from 3-0 to 3-3 as the Reds leveled the score with goals from Gerrard, Smicer, and Xabi Alonso. Super saves from the Liverpool goalkeeper Dudek during the dying minutes of the match and in the penalty shoot-out saw the greatest comeback of all time in the finals as Liverpool won 2-3 on penalties to secure their 5th European title.
Thanks for reading! Seeing the best UCL final ever ranking, which is your favorite one from 1992 to 2023? Please email your thoughts to email@example.com
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Akshay is an author at Footbalytics. His love for football started way back in 1998 when Ronaldo (Not Cristiano) was his first football hero, and the list keeps getting longer ever since.
Though Akshay is a Teacher by profession, he firmly believes that there is no better classroom than the Sports field and no better Teacher than Sports.