2019 UEFA Champions League Final: An All-English Affair

On 1st June, Tottenham Hotspur will play in their first Champions League Final. Their opponents, five-time winners Liverpool, will be competing in their ninth. The sides have seen a domestic rivalry grow in recent seasons and the showpiece event in Madrid will be an all-English affair. For just the seventh time in European Cup history, the final will involve two teams from the same UEFA nation. This got us thinking - what were the other 6 finals and how did events unfold in front of the millions watching around the world?

Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia (Paris, 2000)

The first final to feature teams from the same nation was testament to the success of the European Cup's rebranding in 1992. The tournament had grown significantly in its popularity and scope and began to feature more and more teams in its group stage/knockout format. The 2000 edition saw 8 more teams added to the group stage and 3 teams each from Europe's top 5 leagues. The Spanish contingent saw the usual el clasico combination of Real Madrid and Barcelona joined by a resurgent Valencia.

Valencia had grown into a formidable side by the turn of the millennium. Their midfield was one of the continent's best with Gazika Mendieta at its core. Meeting them in the final was 1998 champions Real Madrid. Madrid were more than used the European finals and would have a psychological advantage over Valencia. The Madrid side was full of superstars - the first of the galacticos saw Raul spearhead a fearsome attack alongside youngster Nicolas Anelka and fellow Spaniard Fernando Morientes.

It would be Morientes who opened the scoring in the first half, heading past Spanish number one Santiago Canizares. A spectacular scissor-kick volley from former Liverpool man Steve McManaman added to the score before Raul sealed a comfortable victory 15 minutes from time. It was a brutal defeat for a Valencia side which had shown so much promise in previous rounds. However, upon reaching the final, the club had set in stone the foundations to build and within four years saw two La Ligas and a UEFA Cup added to a further Champions League final appearance in 2001.

Juventus 0-0 Milan (2-3 pens) (Manchester, 2003)

The 1990s had seen Serie A cement its place as Europe's elite division as stars from around the world flocked to Italy to play for the best clubs on the continent. By 2003, despite seeing their sides frequently reach the latter stages of the Champions League, the nation hadn't seen a finalist since Juventus in 1998. Skip forward five years and like buses, their were two at the same time. The 2003 edition of the Champions League had seen a quarter-final stage dominated by two nations, Italy and Spain.

Arguably facing the harder of the two runs to the final, Juventus had beaten both Barcelona and holders Real Madrid. Milan, on the other hand, had beaten four time winners Ajax before facing arch-rivals Inter in a two legged battle at the San Siro. The final would see two starting XIs brimming with talent. Two line-ups of undeniable brilliance. The stage was set for Trezeguet, Buffon, Inzaghi, Maldini, Thuram, Pirlo - what a final we had in store.

In truth, the actual match was relatively poor and lacking on the quality audiences around Europe had come to expect. Perhaps the rigid and world-class defensive lines should take the most credit for keeping out Milan's Andriy Shenchenko and Juve's Alessandro Del Piero. It was to be the Milan forward who had the last laugh however, as the game headed to a penalty-shootout. Following Dida making saves to deny Trezeguet, Zalayeta and Montero - Shevchenko sent the ball to Buffon's left and a 6th European Cup was heading to Milan.

Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (6-5 pens) (Moscow, 2008)

The late 2000s saw the Premier League stake its claim to be regarded as the best league in the world. The efforts of their respective representatives in Europe were testament to this. Between 2005-12, eight out of 16 final spots were filled by English clubs. The 'big four' of Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea had been regulars in the latter stages of the tournament and it seemed inevitable that two would eventually meet on the grandest stage of all.

In 2008, it happened. Having already won the Premier League title for a second successive season Manchester United, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson, were firm favourites for the final in Moscow. Their opponents Chelsea, had stumbled through the season following the departure of the 'special one' Jose Mourinho. In his place was Avram Grant. Grant was relatively unknown when he became the boss of the 2005 and 2006 league champions, but had managed to do what Mourinho had failed to - win a Champions League semi-final.

The tie itself was played in torrential rain at the Luzhniki Stadium. Proper British weather for the all-English match-up. After Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring, Frank Lampard equalised before half-time. An enthralling second period saw no further goals and extra-time would be needed to see who would emerge victorious. The extra 30-minutes saw chances for both sides and a red-card for Chelsea striker Didier Drogba following a touchline melee with players from both sides.

The penalty shootout saw the usually imperious Ronaldo miss his spot-kick and offer Chelsea captain John Terry the chance to seal victory for the Blues. He slipped on the Moscow turf and his shot hit the outside of the post and wide. Nicolas Anelka's subsequent penalty was saved by Edwin Van Der Sar and United were Champions of Europe for a third time. For Chelsea, the European heartache would remain for another 4 years.

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich (London, 2013)

Despite the financial might of the Premier League and La Liga, 2013 was well and truly the season of the Germans. A year previous, Chelsea had broken the hearts of Bayern fans, as a penalty shootout victory in Munich crushed the hopes of a raucous home support. The 2011-12 season had also been one to forget for the Bavarian club as old rivals Borussia Dortmund, led by the charismatic Jurgen Klopp, beat them to the Bundesliga and German Cup titles.

Fast forward a year and the final saw the two German clubs face-off for the ultimate prize in club football at Wembley. Both sides had made it to London on the back of ruthless attacking football. Barcelona had been torn apart by Munich over two-legs and Real Madrid were stunned by a 4-goal masterpiece from Robert Lewandowski in Dortmund. There was little doubt that Germany was the new home of football. All eyes on Wembley.

The final itself was a joy to behold. A match filled with fast, attacking play would eventually lead to goals in the second half. First, Mario Mandzukic bundled home from 5 yards before Ilkay Gundogan replied immediately from the spot for Dortmund. With the game heading to extra-time Arjen Robben. who had missed a penalty in the final a year earlier, scuffed the ball off the post and into the net. Cue pandemonium in the Munich end of Wembley. The Champions League had returned to Bavaria.

Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (a.e.t)  (Lisbon, 2014)

The first of two Madrid-derby finals, the match played in Portugal's capital was one for the ages. Despite seeing both Real and Barcelona dominate Spanish football for some time, there was a new team disrupting the status quo and ready to win it all. Following a remarkable season in La Liga, whereby a final day draw at the Nou Camp was enough to send the title to the Vincente Calderon, Los Colcheneros were looking to pull off an unbelievable double. One which would rock the very foundations of European football.

In front of them were rivals and nine-time champions, Real Madrid. Indeed, Los Blancos had spent hundreds of millions assembling a new galacticos in order to finally break their 12-year Champions League hoodoo and win 'la decima'. Early in the game, Atleti took the lead. Diego Godin's header capitalising on some uncharacteristically poor goalkeeping from Iker Casillas. After what was in truth a poor second half full of heavy tackles and irate managers, a Sergio Ramos header in the final seconds sent the game to extra-time.

Extra-time took its toll on Atletico. After a mammoth season, Diego Simeone's side ran out of steam and out of discipline. Firstly, world-record transfer Gareth Bale headed in after Angel Di Maria's shot rebounded off Thibaut Courtois, before Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo completed the score. Madrid's celebrations were euphoric. They had finally won the elusive tenth title and a new dominance in Europe was to begin. The celebrations irked Simeone who had to be escorted off the pitch following a confrontation with Real centre-back Raphael Varane. Spain was well and truly home to the league in Europe.

Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (5-3 pens) (Milan, 2016)

Following defeat in Lisbon two years previous - Atletico Madrid were back with vengeance in Milan. Determined to stop their city rivals from once more claiming Europe's top prize - Diego Simeone's men knew that they needed to keep their discipline to the final whistle. The 90 minutes were, in truth, very similar to those in Lisbon - the final score being 1-1. Unlike 2014, it was Real who took the lead in the 15th minute through skipper Sergio Ramos.

Belgian forward Yannick Carrasco equalized late in the second half following a missed penalty from Antoine Greizmann shortly after the restart. Atletico managed to see out extra-time and the match would go to penalties. Now was the chance for the strongest of players to step up. Seven spot-kicks were converted before Juanfran struck the post at the San Siro. It was down to Cristiano Ronaldo to fire Real to an unprecedented 11th European crown. Shooting to the goalkeeper's left, the title was heading to the Bernabeu once again.

By 2016, Spain had well and truly laid down its claim to be the world's greatest league. It was the third Champions League title in-a-row for the Iberian nation and for the next two years, Real Madrid would win the cup. Furthermore, the world's best players began to flock once again to La Liga, seeing the chance to play for the world's best teams in the world's best league, as too hard to ignore. In 2019 however, it has all changed...

Tottenham Hostpur vs Liverpool (Madrid, 2019)

So that leads us to this year's final. A match-up between two of England's top teams. A tie which sees the first ever Champions League final to feature teams which have never won their domestic league since the rebranding of Europe's premier competition. Both sides have performed unbelievable comebacks to reach the match in Madrid. Spurs secured their place through a last second winner from Lucas Moura in Amsterdam a day after Liverpool did the unthinkable - coming back from 3-0 down against the mighty Barcelona to win 4-3 on aggregate.

Whatever happens in Madrid - we know for sure it is going to be a classic! The story is yet to be told - come back here in a week's time to see more!

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