Biggest Champions League Final Upsets: Can Inter Milan emulate these unlikely winners?

Largely accepted as the best team in Europe at present, Manchester City are deemed big favourites to overcome Inter in the upcoming UEFA Champions League Final. Can Inter do the unthinkable? To give them inspiration, we’ve collated the top five UEFA Champions League final upsets of years gone by.

1990/91 UEFA Champions League Final – Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Marseille – Red Star win on pens

Whilst this is an article based upon UEFA Champions League Final upsets, it is arguably Red Star Belgrade’s semi-final performance over the almighty Bayern Munich which stood out more than anything. The then-Yugoslavian side produced an open and exciting brand of football which earned them many plaudits.

Defeating Bayern 2-1 in the semi earned them a shot at winning their first European Cup title, and as of now, it remains the only one they’ve ever won. It proved a close game across the 90 minutes and extra time, but it was Marseille that squandered the best chances, including Chris Waddle heading wide from close range.

Red Star would hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, scoring all five. Marseille saw their opening kick from Manuel Amoros saved by Stevan Stojanović, and that proved the difference. These Red Star players have gone down in history and are each deemed legends of the football club.

1994/95 UEFA Champions League Final – Ajax 1-0 Milan

Looking at the starting line-ups for this game today, you might have assumed this isn’t deemed one of the great UEFA Champions League Final upsets. However, whilst this Ajax side contained the likes of Edwin van der Sar, Clarence Seedorf and Marc Overmars to name but three, this was a very young team at the time.

Almost all of this squad went on to have excellent careers, but this Ajax team was an average age of 23. Edgar Davids, Frank de Boer and Patrick Kluivert were also in the squad, and it was a then 18-year-old Kluivert who proved to be the difference on the night. 15 minutes after appearing off the bench, the Dutchman prodded home a neat passing move to secure the title.

Perhaps the biggest factor of all was that this came against a Milan side that was really starting to dominate the European scene. It was their third consecutive UEFA Champions League Final appearance, and victory would have tied them with Real Madrid for most trophies in this competition.

2004/05 UEFA Champions League Final – Milan 3-3 Liverpool – Liverpool win on pens

There are two angles you can look at this in terms of being a shock outcome. Before kick-off, Milan were deemed big favourites. This was a team that contained some of the greats of the game, such as Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Kaká, Cafu and Andriy Shevchenko, just to name some. Also, they led 3-0 in this game, and still did not win!

Liverpool’s comeback has gone down in the ages as one of the best nights of European football, unless you’re of a Milan persuasion. They were dead at buried being 3-0 behind at half-time, and the introduction of Dietmar Hamann proved to spark something of an unexpected positive reaction. They turned it around to take this into extra time, with a little help from an inspired Steven Gerrard.

Jerzy Dudek’s close range save to deny Shevchenko suggested to many that Liverpool had their name on the trophy, and the Pole would be the eventual hero when again stopping the opposing Ukrainian striker in the shootout to spark wild scenes of celebration on the pitch and in the stands. Milan were shell-shocked, and even now they don’t understand how this one got away from them.

It would take Liverpool another 14 years to reclaim the UEFA Champions League when defeating Tottenham 2-0, coming a year after losing in the Final to a Gareth Bale inspired Real Madrid.

2009/10 UEFA Champions League Final – Bayern Munich 0-2 Inter

Both teams reached the final having endured a tough group phase and knockout rounds. Neither Bayern Munich or Inter won their groups, whilst twice Bayern progressed on away goals, with Inter having to overcome Chelsea and a peak Barcelona. Jose Mourinho was working his magic.

It was a Jose masterclass in every sense of the word. Inter had 32% possession in the match, knowing that Bayern had the tools to punish them if they opened up too much. Goals in either half from Diego Milito separated the two sides, handing Inter their first Champions League triumph since 1965.

Inter completed the treble with victory here, but many had anticipated Bayern’s style of play would give them the edge in the final. This proved to be Mourinho’s last act for the club, shortly departing for Real Madrid, who hosted the final, shortly afterwards.

2011/12 UEFA Champions League Final – Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea – Chelsea win on pens

Chelsea would win this edition of the UEFA Champions League by doing things the hard way. They started the knockout stage with André Villas-Boas at the helm but ended with Roberto Di Matteo overseeing an unlikely maiden Champions League title.

The semi-final legs against Barcelona were tiresome affairs for Chelsea, but their stubborn defensive resolve saw them overcome one of the greats of the game, rounded off with Fernando Torres scoring a memorable goal in the second leg.

That earned them a shot in the final against Bayern Munich, in Munich. Everything was against them, and it would take another mammoth effort for them to come through this. They conceded late and equalised even later to take this to extra time. Penalties came, and that also went to sudden death.

Didier Drogba would eventually score the winning spot-kick, after Bastian Schweinsteiger’s penalty hit the post beforehand, to spark celebrations fueled of happiness and tears. That was his final kick before leaving in that summer, only to return a few seasons later.