The UCL is the prestigious European club competition that had seen many changes in the format. Once only the domestic league champion is able to participate in the competition and now depend on the UEFA coefficient ranking a country can have a maximum 4 participant in the competition. With the increase of the team from 24 to 32, UEFA had introduced the second round where it was a group stage and starting from 2004 onward, the second round had been changed to home and away knockout stages. Other big changes happen to start from 2015, where the UEFA Europa League winner will automatically proceed to UCL depends on their country ranking and with this rule, a country can have a maximum of 5 participants.
The competition had seen many victorious moments and some heartbreaking moments for the club team. They are some interesting facts about the UCL competition and here some of them.
Real Madrid is the only team that had won the trophy 3 consecutive times twice
Real Madrid is the name that is famous in the European club competitions. Every player wants to play for Real Madrid and every manager will not hesitate to reject Madrid when they had been offered the job. Jose Mourinho had famously said, “ if you do not manage Madrid then they will be a void in your management career”. Even Leeds United under Don Revie had changed his team to all white jersey inspired form Real Madrid. Madrid is the first team to win the trophy 5 consecutive times, the only team who had 2 original trophies with them, the inaugural champion of the Intercontinental Cup and many more. However, they are another record that Madrid had created that will be difficult to emulate in the coming time. They are many teams who had the trophy 2 consecutive times like Liverpool, Nottingham Forest, Benfica, AC Milan, and Inter Milan and only 3 teams had won in the 3 consecutive times and they are Real Madrid, Ajax Amsterdam and also Bayern Munich. However, Real Madrid is the first team to achieve this feat for 2 times. When they had won the trophy from 2016 until 2017 they had made history as the first team from the UCL era to win for 3 consecutive times and also the first team to had made this achievement twice.
Inter Milan is the first team to be knocked out on away goal on their own turf
In 2005 UCL semi-final, AC Milan had been drawn again Inter Milan and both legs had provides a unique situation. AC Milan and Inter Milan are sharing the San Siro Stadium where if AC Milan played it will be called San Siro and if Inter Milan played it will be called Guiseppe Meiza Stadium. They will be a situation if the away goal rules count then any team will be knocked out in the own turf and this is the situation that had happened as the first leg is a stalemate and the second leg ended in 1-1 draw and Inter Milan become the first team to be knocked out on their own turf via an away goal.
From 2003 until 2006, Manchester United had a dismal record in UCL Knockout stage
Sir Alex Ferguson is the best manager of all time as he had made Manchester United as the best team in England overtaking Liverpool. However, if they are one flaw in his tremendous domestic record is the fact he had won the European Cup twice in 26 years. One of the reasons is that from 2003 until 2006 Manchester United had a dismal record in the UCL knockout stages. Since the last win again Deportivo La Coruna in the quarter-final in 2002, United had been knocked in every knocked out stage since then wherein 2003 they had been knocked out by Real Madrid, 2004 by FC Porto, and 2005 by AC Milan. In 2006, they had even failed to escape from the group stages. After 2007 coincident with the rise of Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson had got it right and their record had been superior from then on.
Liverpool had progressed to the final when the semi-final second leg is contested in the Anfield.
In the current season UCL semi-final, Liverpool will be facing Barcelona with the first leg in the Camp Nou and the second leg in Anfield. Barcelona had Messi but for Liverpool, the second leg in the Anfield is a big advantage for them. On the 2 occasions where semi-final second leg contested in Anfield in 2005 and 2007, Liverpool had managed to advance to the final. The Anfield and the crowd do provide a big boost for Liverpool and a great disadvantage for the opposing team. So they did, as Liverpool had overturned their first leg 3-0 defeat to knockout Barcelona inflicting Barcelona their worst ever loss in the English soil when Liverpool had won 4-0. Liverpool’s perfect record of progressing to the final when the second leg in Anfield is still intact.
Messi never lost a UCL final.
Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo are 2 of the greatest player ever that had played the game. Their longevity and consistency in delivering great performance each season is a football marvel. Messi with Barcelona is the super player however when comes to playing with Argentina it had some bad luck and the Midas touch cant be seen. Messi had helped Argentina to 3 Copa America final and 1 World Cup final and lost all of them. However when it comes to Barcelona Messi had been in 4 final 2006,2009, 2011, and 2015 and he had won all of them. Even Ronald had lost a UCL but for now, Messi had not lost any UCL final.
Valencia is the only team to had lost in 2 consecutive UCL final
Valencia in the 2000s under Hector Cuper is a well-oiled team that can defend well and had one of the best playmakers during that time Ganzieka Mendieta and also Pablo Aimar in the team. Helped with Claudio Lopes, Killy Gonzales, and many others, Valencia had performed superbly to reach the final on 2 occasions in 2000 and 2001. However, this superbly well-drilled team by Hector Cuper had made an unwanted record on the 2 occasions as Valencia is the first team to lose on 2 consecutive final. A sad ending with a team that had great potential.
The final defeat in 2009 for Manchester United is the first time that they had lost in a European Cup final
When Manchester United had been comprehensively beaten by Guardiola’s Barcelona, it makes the first time that Manchester United had lost a European Cup final. They had reached 3 European Cup final in 1968, 1999 and 2008 and won all of them. They even had won the Cup Winners Cup final in 1991. The defeat in the final is quite painful for Sir Alex Ferguson had it had destroyed his team ambition to become the first team to lift the European Cup in 2 consecutive times in the UCL era.
Jens Lehmann had an unwanted honor to be the first goalkeeper to sent off in a final
Jens Lehman was bought by Arsene Wenger as a replacement for David Seaman. With Lehman in the team, Arsenal had managed to become the first team from London to reach the UCL final however Wenger had failed to won the trophy. One of the reasons is because of the sending off of Jens Lehman which had Arsenal play defensively and abandoning their attacking principle. When Lehman was sent off, it had made history as he had become the first goalkeeper to be sent off in the UCL final.
Real Madrid is the only team that never lost a final in the UCL Era.
AC Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich had reached the final more than once but at least had lost one of them. When comes to Real Madrid, the European Aristocrat had reached the final 7 times and had won all of them. The only team that had not lost the final after reaching is Independiente in South America.
Juventus is the team that had lost the most final.
Juventus is the first European team to win all 3 European trophies when they had won the UEFA Champion League in 1985. This is one of the proud achievement for Juventus however Juventus have another record which can be said horrendous and dismal for a club like Juventus. They had lost the UCL final the most overtaking Benfica. When they had lost the final in 2015 against Barcelona, they had overtaken Benfica record of losing 6 final while Benfica had lost 5. In 2017 final when they had lost against Real Madrid, they had lost 7 final in total making them the only team who had lost the most finals.
When a team that had won 2 consecutive times and reached the final on the following season, they usually win the 3rd final to make it 3 in a row. Real Madrid had won it in 1957 to make it 3 in a row en route for their 5 consecutive trophies, Ajax Amsterdam had won it 1973 when they had beaten Juventus, Bayern Munich had won it in 1976 when they had beaten Saint Etienne and finally, Real Madrid had won 3 in a row when they had beaten Liverpool in 2018 final. For now, not many teams had achieved the feat of winning 3 in a row except for Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Ajax Amsterdam.