The unpredictability of the Champions league is what makes the competition so special. For years now, it has been by far the most competitive and illustrious club competition in all of football — with UEFA Champions League betting constantly getting things wrong. Who could have predicted some of the comebacks and giant killings that have happened in recent years?
As the group stages begin to roll round again, the questions of who will go all the way and pick up the big eared trophy in St Petersburg begin to heat up. Not every year the favourite will claim the silverware and upsets are caused. Here are four examples of a surprising Champions League winner.
Liverpool – 2005
Probably the moat famous winners of the Champions League — the miracle of Istanbul will live long in the memories of football fans, as Liverpool came back from 3-0 down against AC Milan. When looking at both sides on paper, the differences is staggering, and while the Reds did possess world class talent, like Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, their squad paled in comparison to the swashbuckling Rossoneri side, which tasted victory two years previous. Carlo Ancelotti had executed a perfect game plan until Gerrard’s header sparked a comeback and – well, you know the rest!
Borussia Dortmund – 1997
In one of the biggest underdog stories in European football history, Borussia Dortmund won the 1997 final against Juventus, beating The Old Lady 3-1 on home soil under Ottmar Hitzfeld, despite a third-place league finish. The Germans dispatched of a strong Manchester United side to reach the showpiece event at the Olympiastadion and still had to face a formidable Old Lady, which featured the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane. A brace from Karl-Heinz Riedle and one from Lars Ricken sealed an unlikely victory, with the Black and Yellows not reaching a final again until 2013.
Porto – 2004
The season that launched José Mourinho into the limelight, his boisterous celebration down the Old Trafford tunnel now infamous — the birth of the special one with his first European title. Porto comfortably brushed aside Monaco in the final, but it was more their run to the VELTINS-Arenathat propelled their side into stardom. Placed in a challenging group alongside Real Madrid, they finished second before beating United, French Champions Lyon and then a tense 1-0 victory against Deportivo de La Coruña saw them reach the final, where goals from Carlos Alberto, Deco and Dmitri Alenichev were too much for Monaco. Mourinho went on to join Chelsea that summer.
Chelsea – 2012
Not many Champions League predictions even favoured Chelsea to get out of their group in the 2011/12 season’s final matchday, let alone beat Bayern Munich in their own backyard. The Blue’s appointment of Roberto di Matteo ended up being a stroke of genius, as he guided his side to European victory despite an underwhelming domestic campaign. It wasn’t so much that Chelsea were the weaker side, but it was the manor that they inflicted further damage on a Bayern side already hurting from the 2010 final loss and at their home stadium. The occasion was brilliant for Chelsea fans and truly an unexpected one.