Manchester City are firm favourites ahead of their date with Inter, but what are the biggest ever UEFA Champions League final wins?
All eyes will be on Istanbul this weekend as the Turkish capital plays host to the UEFA Champions League final of Manchester City vs Inter Milan, a clash many are already predicting to be one-sided.
As big a club as Inter are historically, it’s fair to say few expected them to get this far at the start of the season. It might even be argued they’re one of the most surprising Champions League finalists in 30 years of finals.
Man City are the firm favourites as they seek a maiden Champions League trophy. So far they’ve swept aside all the competition in Europe, the Premier League and FA Cup, leaving them on the brink of the treble.
If they do beat Inter, they’ll only be the second English side ever to win the top domestic league, FA Cup and European Cup/Champions League in a single season after Sir Alex Ferguson’s iconic 1999 Manchester United team.
These title games tend to be fairly close affairs, but given the brilliance of City and the phenomenal goalscoring exploits of star man Erling Haaland, it’s only natural to wonder what it’d take for them to secure the treble with the biggest Champions League final win ever.
Biggest UCL Final Wins
AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona (1993-94)
City boss Pep Guardiola was part of the Barcelona side that went into the 1994 Champions League final as clear favourites. Milan were without a host of key players, such as Marco van Basten, Gianluigi Lentini, plus Italy greats Franco Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta, yet they went on to blow Johan Cruyff’s Barca away.
Daniele Massaro put Milan in front with a close-range finish after an off-balance Dejan Savićević managed to get the ball to the back post, and then made it 2-0 just before the break with a fine strike following Roberto Donadoni’s excellent left-wing run and cut-back.
Savićević effectively put the game beyond Barca less than two minutes after the restart with an outrageous lob from the right-hand perimeter of the Milan box, and a gorgeous Marcel Desailly curler sealed victory before the hour.
Milan’s win in Athens remains the only Champions League final to be settled by a four-goal margin, meaning this is the barrier City – or Inter – will need to break to set a new record on Saturday.
Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus (2016-17)
Four Champions League finals have been won by three-goal deficits, the most recent of which came in 2017 when Madrid defeated Juventus to become the first team to win the competition back-to-back.
Cristiano Ronaldo swept home a Dani Carvajal cut-back to make it 1-0 with Madrid’s first shot in the 20th minute, and although Mario Mandžukić’s astonishing overhead-kick made it 1-1 soon after, Zinedine Zidane’s side got the job done with three goals in the second half.
Casemiro’s deflected long-range strike put Madrid back in front, then Ronaldo got his 10th of the knockout stages alone from Luka Modrić’s cross. Juan Cuadrado’s second yellow card six minutes from time for pushing Sergio Ramos essentially killed off Juventus’ chances of a fightback, and Marco Asensio got Madrid’s fourth with a tidy finish when latching on to Marcelo’s pull-back.
It was the Bianconeri’s fifth consecutive Champions League final defeat.
Real Madrid 4-1 Atlético Madrid (aet, 2013-14)*
So, this entry has an asterisk because Madrid needed extra-time to see off their neighbours Atlético – in fact, this game was agonisingly close to being a 1-0 win for Diego Simeone’s side.
Diego Godín’s first-half opener – a looping header over Iker Casillas – in Lisbon looked as though it’d be enough for a maiden European Cup/Champions League success for Atlético, but Madrid weren’t to be denied La Décima.
Sergio Ramos’ dramatic headed equaliser deep into second-half stoppage time ensured the game went to an extra 30 minutes, and Gareth Bale nodded Real Madrid in front with 110 minutes on the clock after great work by Ángel Di Maria.
Then-Atlético ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois failed to keep out Marcelo’s 20-yard drive, and a Ronaldo penalty – which he won – finished things off at the end.
FC Porto 3-0 Monaco (2003-04)
The win that elevated José Mourinho to football manager superstardom and secured a move Chelsea. Both Porto and Monaco had captured the imaginations of neutrals with their unlikely journeys to the Champions League final in 2004, but Gelsenkirchen played host to a showpiece that proved fairly one-sided by the end.
Livewire attacking midfield star Carlos Alberto put Porto in front with an instinctive volley into the top-right corner six minutes before half-time. Monaco remained in the contest for a while after that, but Deco linked up well with Dmitri Alenichev in the 71st minute to make it 2-0 courtesy of a delicate, disguised finish into the bottom-left corner.
Alenichev put Monaco to bed with an emphatic volley a few minutes later, making Porto the first – and only – club from Portugal to win the Champions League, a year after winning the Europa League (UEFA Cup as it was then).
Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia (1999-00)
The first European Cup or Champions League final to be contested by two teams from the same nation, success at the Stade de France salvaged an otherwise underwhelming season for Real Madrid, whose haul of 62 points in La Liga remains their worst in a single campaign this century in Spain’s top flight.
Fernando Morientes got Madrid’s first, heading in from Míchel Salgado’s cross, before Steve McManaman – who became the first English player to win the competition with a non-English club – fired in a brilliant volley from the edge of the box.
Raúl sealed the win 15 minutes from the end, rounding Santiago Cañizares to finish off a counter-attack and give coach Vicente del Bosque his first title as a coach.
Biggest European Cup Final Wins
Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt (1959-60)
There may have only been five Champions League finals settled by a deficit of three or more goals, but there were also a handful European Cup finals, with Real Madrid’s hammering of Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960 most iconic among them.
It remarkably included half of all hat-tricks ever scored in a European Cup/Champions League final, with Alfredo Di Stéfano netting three and Ferenc Puskás plundering four as the Spanish side won the competition for a fifth time in a row.
Bayern Munich 4-0 Atlético Madrid 4-0 (1973-74)*
Another asterisk. Atlético actually found themselves within a minute of European Cup success but were pegged back right at the end of extra-time, Bayern rescuing a 1-1 draw in Brussels to force a replay a couple of days later.
The Bundesliga giants then ran riot, with Uli Hoeneß and Gerd Müller scoring two apiece. Their victory officially ended one dynasty – given Ajax had won the competition three times in succession beforehand – and started another, as Bayern took the crown back to Germany in 1975 and 1976 as well.
Milan 4-0 Steaua Bucharest (1988-89)
The Rossoneri went double-double Dutch at Camp Nou in May 1989, with Ruud Gullit and Van Basten each getting a brace as Steaua – champions three years earlier – were brushed aside emphatically on the grand stage.
Milan became the first side to score more than three goals in a European Cup final (excluding replays) since 1969.
Milan 4-1 Ajax (1968-69)
That’s right, the last team to achieve that feat before Milan were the Rossoneri themselves. Rinus Michels’ legendary Ajax team had to make do with the runners-up spot as they were no match for the Italians. Milan were inspired by the hat-trick of Pierino Prati – no one has scored a treble in a European Cup or Champions League final since.
Defeat prevented Ajax becoming the first Dutch team to win the European Cup, as Feyenoord took that honour a year later. But their day soon arrived, with Michels guiding them to the title in 1971, before Ștefan Kovács led Cruyff and Co. to success in each of the following two seasons.
Manchester United 4-1 Benfica (1967-68)*
Sir Matt Busby’s Man Utd became the first English team – not British, as Celtic had that honour – to be crowned European champions in 1968, though the 4-1 scoreline makes it sound more straightforward than it was, as three of their goals were scored in extra-time.
England legend Bobby Charlton scored two of United’s goals, with Brian Kidd and George Best also on the scoresheet.