UEFA Champions League: First Eight Winners since ’93 and what Happened 20 Years Later
And so, we reach the end. The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season – in a pandemic-ridden year that has made earlier rounds of the season seem so long ago that they probably might not have happened – is coming to an end, as little footballing underdogs Paris St. Germain host fellow minnows Bayern Munich (with 15 league titles between them… in eight years).
A campaign that started with stuff no one probably remembers, all the way through Marcos Llorente and Atletico Madrid silencing Anfield, Atalanta blazing Valencia, Barcelona suffering a brave and unlucky 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich, and Manchester City getting punched by Lyon, will see its end a few days after the 2020/21 season started (time has been broken, everyone).
So, ahead of the 2020 final in Lisbon, why not take a look at the first eight Champions League finals since 1993, and the state of those teams 20 years after:
(Also, if you want to find out how the eventual Champions League winners began their campaigns, look no further)
1993 (Marseille 1-0 Milan)
PSG are aiming to be the second French side to win this competition. The first were Marseille, 27 years ago, under Raymond Goethals, two years after they lost the final to Red Star Belgrade on penalties. A team containing the likes of Rudi Voller, Abedi Pele, and Didier Deschamps saw off AC Milan in Munich thanks to a Basile Boli header. But there are questions as to whether Marseille should even be counted as Champions League winners, after it was discovered that club chairman Bernard Tapie had dabbed in match-fixing, and the club were stripped of their Ligue 1 title. ‘The team was born in sin’, noted Michael Yokhin for FourFourTwo.
20 years later (2013): That’s the best Marseille had it in Europe till then (and have even since), and in 2013, the team – in its first season after the departure of manager Deschamps – worked its way back into the Champions League by finishing second behind PSG in Ligue 1.
1994 (Milan 4-0 Barcelona)
Milan atoned for their defeat in 1993, by winning the Champions League the year after, although it was rather unexpected. The Rossoneri – under Fabio Capello – were deemed as negative, having scored just six goals in six Champions League games before the final, and went into the final with some key players missing –including Franco Baresi – leading to a rather cocky opposition manager in Barcelona’s Johan Cruyff. But Milan ran riot in Athens, with a Daniele Massaro brace and a delightful Dejan Savicevic lob leading them a 4-0 win.
20 years later (2014): Milan won two more Champions League titles after that, but went downhill, and 2014 – where they lost to Atletico Madrid in the last 16 – is the last time they’ve been in the Champions League since.
1995 (Ajax 1-0 Milan)
It was three finals in a row for Milan, but this time, they wouldn’t be champions this time, as they came up against a brilliant Ajax side containing the likes of Kanu, Clarence Seedorf and Jari Litmanen. Ajax, under Louis van Gaal, had previously beaten Milan twice in the group stage, as well as making mincemeat of Bayern Munich. They weren’t as thrilling in the final as they had been in previous rounds, but a young Patrick Kluivert was the hero in a narrow but deserved victory against the holders.
20 years later (2015): If Milan went downhill by 2014, Ajax had faded into obscurity by 2015. At this point, they hadn’t gone beyond the group stage in nine years, and after 2015, they wouldn’t appear in the competition for three.
1996 (Juventus 1-1 Ajax – Juventus win on penalties)
By 1996, Milan were no longer the might of Italy, having been overtaken by Marcelo Lippi’s Juventus. The Bianconeri might have stumbled a bit, like losing the quarter-final first leg to Real Madrid, but found their way to the final, where they needed penalties to beat defending champions Ajax in Rome.
20 years later (2016): Juventus have been searching for another Champions League title ever since, and 2016 was a year after they got to the final and lost to Barcelona in Berlin. But in 2016, they went out in the first knockout round, after throwing a 2-0 half-time lead at Bayern Munich.
1997 (Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Juventus)
There was a theme in the 90s, as Juventus became the third successive Champions League winners to reach the final the following year. They also became the third winners in a row to lose the following final, as they were upstaged by Dortmund in 1997, as Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side ran out winners, in front of 59,000 at Munich’s Olympic Stadium, thanks to a Karl Heinz-Riedle brace and a moment of magic from Lars Ricken.
20 years later (2017): Dortmund definitely faded into obscurity afterwards, and by the mid-2000s, they had run into financial trouble, and didn’t quite become a European force again until Jurgen Klopp came around in 2008. In 2013, they lost an all-German final to Bayern Munich at Wembley, but four years after, they were knocked out by Monaco in the last eight, amidst a tragic bombing incident in their city before the first leg.
1998 (Real Madrid 1-0 Juventus)
Juventus found themselves in a third successive final, but made it two defeats out of two, this time against Real Madrid. Real had won the first five titles after the European Cup was birthed in 1955, but as at ’98, hadn’t won it in 32 years. Under manager Jupp Heynckes and club president Lorenzo Sanz, Los Blancos beat holders Dortmund in the semis, and triumphed over Juventus thanks to a solitary goal by Predrag Mijatovic. Then, in typical fashion, the club sacked Heynckes, and not long after voted out president Sanz.
20 years later (2018): While there wasn’t another 32-year drought, Real did endure a 12-year wait after winning a ninth title in 2002. But by 2018, they were the dominant force in European football again, and they victory over Liverpool in the final in Kiev was their third CL triumph on the bounce.
1999 (Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich)
Speaking of droughts, Manchester United hadn’t won the Europe’s top prize in 31 years when 1999 came around. The Red Devils were up against Bayern Munich, whom they had met in the group stage earlier. Both teams were aiming for a treble, and it looked like it would be Bayern, as they held a 1-0 goal lead in Barcelona until stoppage time. No prizes for remembering what happened next, as two late goals saw a massive turnaround and gave us those three magic words.
20 years later (2019): United won another Champions League title and reached two finals afterwards, but after Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, their powers waned, and reaching the quarter-final in 2019 – after a VAR-infused night in Paris – is the farthest they’ve gone in a decade.
2000 (Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia)
The first final of the 21st century was an all-Spanish affair, as Real Madrid met Valencia in Paris. Real had a turbulent start to the season – ditching John Toshack and hiring future World Cup winner Vicente Del Bosque to be their seventh manager in four years – and when they met Manchester United in the last eight, they were very much the underdogs. But Los Blancos saw off United – thanks to a 3-2 win at Old Trafford – and then beat Bayern Munich in the semis, before putting three past Valencia in the final.
20 years later (2020): Since that three-peat between 2016 and 2018, Real have suffered back-to-back last 16 exits, at the hands of Ajax and then Manchester City in 2020.
Kunle Ajao121 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not