The final that been talked about as one of the best finals. It had been said that both finals had been hailed as 2 of the best UCL finals. Both teams had won the title from the brink of defeat. Manchester United needed to score two goals in 3-minute stoppage time to win the final, while Liverpool scored three times in 6 minutes and won in a penalty shootout after losing 3-0 in halftime. We will look at both of these finals and conclude on which is the best final.
En Route to Final.
Both had qualified for Champion League without being champions in the domestic competition. Manchester United qualified as a runner-up to Arsenal in the 1998 season, and Liverpool qualified by finishing 4th in the domestic league. Both have qualified for the group stage via the qualifying round. In 1999 Manchester United was drawn against Barcelona, Bayer Munich and Brondby in the group stage. A group of death indeed. They drew with Barcelona 3-3 home and away in one of the classic European games. They also drew against Bayern Munich and defeated Brondby home and away to qualify for the quarter-final against Inter Milan as a runner-up. They defeated Inter Milan with Ronaldo and Ivan Zamorano 2 – 0 in Old Trafford, drew with them in San Siro 1 – 1 and qualified for the semifinal against Marcelo Lippi Juventus. The latter are gunning for 4th consecutive final. With Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamp, Filippo Inzaghi, and Edgar Davis, they are one of the most feared teams in Europe. Manchester United drew 1 – 1 in Old Trafford and defeated them 3-2 in Turin after losing 2-0 in 10 minutes in Turin. In the final, with a formidable Bayern Munich team that consists of Oliver Kahn, Stefan Effenberg, and Lothar Matthaus, they are losing 1 – 0 with a Mario Basler goal in the 5th minute. They needed to score two goals in 3 minutes of stoppage time to win the game, and the shell-shocked Bayern player was lying on the ground with Sami Kuffour punching the grass in frustration. Referee Pierluigi Colina is forced to carry the Bayern player to start the game again. This win makes them the first English team to win the Premier League, FA Cup and UCL treble.
Liverpool was drawn against Monaca, Deportivo La Coruna and Olympiakos in the group stages. Liverpool was not convincing and needed to win in the final against Olympiakos with a 3 -1 score to qualify for the second round. This time the Champion League had been expanded to 32 teams, and England has four representatives in the Champion League this year. In the second round, they faced Bayern Leverkusen of German and won 3-1 both home and away, and this led to meeting Juventus in the quarter-final, winning 2-1 in Anfield and drawing 0-0 in Turin. The opponent in the semifinal is Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, who was very impressive in the second and quarter-final when they knocked out Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Liverpool drew at Stamford Bridge 0-0 and won in Anfield 1-0 with a ghost goal, as Jose Mourinho described. In the final, they meet AC Milan and are losing 3-0 in halftime and were totally outplayed in the first half. They scored 3 in 6 minutes in the second half and won the UCL title through a penalty shootout. This trophy is their 5 European medal, and as a rule, they will have the privilege to keep the UCL trophy permanently and receive a Badge of Honor from UEFA.
The 1999 team had Oliver Kahn, Lothar Matthaus, Bixenter Lizarazu, Sami Kuffour, Stefan Effenbery, Giovani Elber, and Carstens Jansker. They are also gunning for the treble after winning the Bundesliga and competing in the final of the German Cup. Lizarazu and Elber are not playing in the final due to career-ending knee injuries. This team had eliminated Kaiserslautern and Dynamo Kiev with Andrei Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov.
With Carlo Ancelotti as a coach, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Kaka, Hernan Crespo and Andrei Shevchenko, Milan was gunning for their 7th European Cup medal. They had eliminated Manchester United in the second round, InterMilan in the quarter-final and PSV Eindhoven in the semifinal.
LOSS OF PLAYERS.
Manchester United needs to break up the midfield quartet of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs due to the game’s suspension for Roy Keane and Paul Scholes.
For Liverpool, they have no problem due to suspension or injuries as Steven Gerard, Ditermanr Hamman, and Jamie Carragher play.
Due to Roy Keane and Paul Scholes’s suspension, Sir Alex Ferguson needs to change the midfield with Beckham and Nicky Butt in the centre midfield, Ryan Giggs on the right instead of left and Jesper Blomqvist on the left-hand side. This had disrupted their normal rhythm, and they could not make any shot on the goal during the game for 80 minutes until Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer had come, and Beckham had moved back to the right. Also, the substitution of Lothar Matthaus had helped as Manchester United had their first shot on target after Beckham had moved to the right and Giggs on the left
Liverpool was outplayed in the first half with Kaka being a menace for them, and he had contributed to AC Milan’s gameplay and the 3rd goal. In the second half, Liverpool substituted Harry Kewell for Dietmar Hamman. This released Steven Gerard for a more attacking position. This kick-started their comeback and simultaneously stopped Kaka from playing his usual game.
ELEMENT OF LUCK
Bayern Munich had hit the post twice during this time with Carsten Janccker and Mehmet Scholl. Overall they had controlled the game and stuffed Manchester United.
A penalty was saved by Dida but rebounded kindly for Xabi Alonso to score the equalizing 3rd goal. Dudek was out of the line several times during the penalty shootout, but the referee did not notice it. Jerzy Dudek also made an unbelievable save from Shevchenko in the dying minute of the second half extra time.
The British media had hyped a lot regarding AC Milan conceding three goals, but for all the defensive prowess, Maldini, Nesta, and Jaap Stam were old at the time and could be tackled with speed and pace. In the 2004 quarter-final with Deportivo La Coruna, where they had conceded four goals and were knocked out even after winning 4- 1 in San Siro and even in the semifinal in 2005, they were nearly knocked out by PSV Eindhoven when PSV equalized 2-2 in aggregate after AC Milan had won in San Siro 2-0.
Without Steven Gerard and Jamie Carragher, Liverpool will undoubtedly pull out such a win in the final against AC Milan. On the other hand, Manchester United had defeated Bayern Munich without the midfield quarter of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes, and they have done it repeatedly during that season. The thrilling 3-3 drew with Barcelona where they had equalled Barcelona’s style of play and went toe to toe with them without parking the bus in Nou Camp. Defeating Juventus 3-2 in Turin and earning a standing ovation from the Juventus fan in Turin after losing 2-0 halftime—beating Liverpool 2-1 in the last minute of the FA Cup, going a run of 39 games unbeaten starting on December after losing to Middlesbrough 3-1, winning the Premier League on the final day of the season against the stern challenge from Arsenal and all of this by playing a beautiful Manchester United style of play.
Liverpool may have come back from 3-0 down to win it. Still, Manchester United had cemented a legacy and a history-making as they had become the first English team to win the treble that even Liverpool in the 70s and 80 was unable to make. 2005 final may be the most remarkable, but Manchester United’s win against Bayern Munich is the best for a victory that cements legacy and history.