Ranked! All 25 teams to have won the Champions League, from worst to best
First, a Champions League-size caveat: any team to have won this competition is, clearly, pretty damn good. You don't get to the position of competing for, let alone winning, the big-eared trophy without being a fine football side.
However, not all winners are made equal. So Michael Yokhin has set out to rate and rank the cream of European club football since 1992. Factored in is the quality of the team, performances throughout the tournament (not just in the final), the entertainment they offered - and how memorable their achievement was.
It still didn't make the process much easier. Although selecting the side in last place was a simple choice...
25. Marseille (1993)
Marseille were a magnificent team, with Didier Deschamps leading by example in midfield, Abedi Pele adding improvisation, while German veteran Rudi Voller starred alongside the young Croat Alen Boksic in attack. Their 1-0 win over heavy favourites Milan in the first ever Champions League final was richly deserved, Basile Boli scoring with a glorious header – but they were not rightful winners.
This team was born in sin. The infamous Valenciennes affair eventually stripped Marseille of their French league title of 1992/93, as owner Bernard Tapie had gone to great lengths to try to fix a match so his side could wrap up the league early, avoid injury and have plenty of rest before the Champions League final. Marseille should have been stripped of this title too, and they don't really belong on this list at all.
24. Chelsea (2012)
Chelsea were one of the most surprising winners, and neutral fans usually love such scenarios, but the Blues weren't overly popular. Their style was too defensive, and some might say that they were lucky under Roberto Di Matteo. The Italian managed to outfox a dominant Barcelona in the semi-finals, then proceeded to frustrate Bayern Munich in the final at their own Allianz Arena.
A patched-up Chelsea were out-gunned 35-9 on shots attempted, but managed to draw 1-1 thanks to Didier Drogba's late equaliser. Arjen Robben could have won it in extra time with a penalty, but it was saved and the Blues won the eventual shootout.
Petr Cech deserves a statue for his heroics, but the irony is that Chelsea had far stronger teams which narrowly failed to win this trophy - only to win it at last in one of their weakest seasons.
23. Milan (2003)
With Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Rui Costa, Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko in their ranks, it is especially disappointing that this Milan side played such boring football at times. They are partly responsible for the only goalless draw in the history of Champions League finals so far, after a drab affair against a Pavel Nedved-less Juventus at Old Trafford.
Overall, Milan scored only four goals across five knockout matches, having bagged just five in six at the second group stage. Carlo Ancelotti was delighted to win the first title of his coaching career, but more impressive triumphs were to follow - for coach and club.
22. Porto (2004)
This remarkable success turned Jose Mourinho into the Special One, but Porto rode their luck on the way to lifting the trophy. The last-minute equaliser by Costinha at Old Trafford in the second leg of the last 16 was preceded by Paul Scholes wrongly having a goal disallowed.
In the semi-finals, Deportivo La Coruna were superior to the Portuguese side but couldn't find the net over the 180 minutes and lost 1-0.
Eventually, Mourinho’s side faced equally inexperienced Monaco in the final, and won 3-0 thanks to a brilliant exhibition of counterattacking football. Deco and Maniche were masterful in midfield, but overall Porto were one of the less attractive and entertaining winners.
21. Milan (1994)
The final against Barcelona in Athens was undoubtedly one of the greatest in history. Johan Cruyff expected his Dream Team to win without problems and was rather cocky in the build-up, but Fabio Capello's outstanding tactical plan worked perfectly, as Daniele Massaro, Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly struck to demolish the Catalans 4-0.
That performance was absolutely stunning, but few neutrals supported Milan that evening, because they had been so negative beforehand. This was the team that scored just six goals in six matches at the group stage, while netting just 36 times in 34 matches on the way to winning Serie A. This Milan were probably the best ever at catching their opponents offside, but for those who want to enjoy football they could be close to unwatchable at times.
20. Manchester United (2008)
Alex Ferguson enjoyed the journey to his second Champions League win, but the Red Devils were less exciting in 2008 than their 1999 vintage. Despite having Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez in a flexible attacking line, they weren’t always potent as you might think and scored just eight goals in seven knockout games.
This triumph was mostly down to a brilliant defensive line, led by Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Manchester United kept five clean sheets in the knockouts and managed to neutralise Barcelona in a dull semi-final. They also had a stroke of luck against Chelsea in the final on that wet night in Moscow.
The Blues had an equal share of the 1-1 draw, but John Terry famously slipped when taking the crucial kick in the penalty shootout and United took home the trophy.
19. Inter (2010)
There was a lot to admire about Inter's tactical discipline and fighting spirit, but their main weapon was still the ability to kill off games. Employing Samuel Eto'o as an auxiliary extra right-back, Jose Mourinho liked to allow opponents to have the ball: Bayern Munich enjoyed 68% of possession at the Santiago Bernabeu, yet were still soundly beaten 2-0 thanks to a Diego Milito brace.
Perhaps it shouldn’t matter, especially given the derivation of their name, but Inter didn't have a single Italian in their starting line-up. Subverting the old clichés about carefree South American football, Mourinho's masterclass was achieved with a starting XI featuring four Argentinians and three Brazilians.
18. Real Madrid (2016)
Real Madrid are the most successful club in the Champions League with five trophies, yet the last one was arguably the least impressive. Zinedine Zidane's team were highly effective, but hardly produced a true world-class performance on their way to lifting the cup, with the final against Atletico Madrid eventually decided on penalties.
Cristiano Ronaldo was sensational throughout the tournament with 16 goals, but even that tally was inferior to his record two years previously when the Portuguese superstar netted 17. Los Blancos prevailed thanks to their defensive qualities, having kept a clean sheet in five knockout fixtures, including the two games against Manchester City in the semi-finals.