The 18 Greatest Games In Champions League History
The return of UEFA Champions League and the beginning of the knockout stages marks a joyous time for any soccer fan. This season’s Round of 16 promises to be one of the most exciting yet. Matchups like Real Madrid vs. PSG, Juventus vs. Tottenham and Chelsea vs. Barcelona would be amazing finals for the event, but we’re lucky enough to have them in February and March. You're not going to want to miss any of the action.
Luckily, you don't have to because we've got the hookup. Get a free, seven day trial of FOX Soccer Match Pass through this link and you'll be able to stream every UEFA Champions League match – live, on-demand, without commercials or advertisements – wherever you want to watch: your PC/MAC, iPad, iPhone, Android, Roku and Apple TV devices. Take the Champions League with you whether you're at home, at work, in the classroom or in the bathroom (just say'in).
In the spirit of this year’s phenomenal matchups, we ranked the 18 best Champions League games of all time, including photos, highlights and analysis. If this doesn't get you excited to watch, nothing will.
Here they are, the 18 best Champions League games of all time:
February 21, 2017 | Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Manchester City 5 - 3 Monaco
Not one for the defensive purists, this David vs Goliath encounter secured the legend of this precocious group of Monaco youngsters while also giving us a taste of things to come from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
The Spanish manager’s first season in England would end trophy-less, but his freewheeling attacking principles were clearly showcased in this madcap 5-3 first leg victory at the Etihad. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe provided world-class entertainment in an enthralling Round of 16 match.
A 3-1 reverse in the return leg would ultimately send Monaco through on away goals with an aggregate scoreline of 6-6. The Monégasque side would then be torn apart the following summer with City themselves signing midfielder Bernardo Silva and defender Benjamin Mendy for huge sums of cash.
Watch This: Falcao’s exquisite chip gives Monaco a 3-2 lead in the 61', but Manchester City fights back. Sane’s goal in the 82' puts the nail in the coffin as City manages a frantic 5-3 victory.
April 14, 2009 | Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea 4 - 4 Liverpool
Two years previously, a Champions League semifinal between Liverpool and Chelsea was likened to "a sh*t hanging from a stick" by former Real Madrid coach Jorge Valdano, and another bleak affair was expected in the 2009 quarterfinals.
But those predictions rang hollow as a resounding 3-1 first leg victory for Chelsea at Anfield was followed by a preposterous 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge, sending Chelsea into the semis, 7-5 on aggregate.
The hero of the second leg was Blues’ legend Frank Lampard, who scored a late brace to guide his club to a fifth Champions League semifinal.
Watch This: Dirk Kuyt's 83' goal for Liverpool cuts Chelsea's aggregate lead to 6-5, and Reds supporters are dreaming of another night like Istanbul. But in the 89', Lampard's superb finish ends that fantasy.
April 23, 2003 | Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United 4 - 3 Real Madrid
This second leg match will forever be remembered for two reasons: (1) Ronaldo’s hat-trick inside the first hour effectively booked Real Madrid’s place in the semis and was met with a standing ovation from supporters inside Old Trafford. (2) While Real would win 6-5 on aggregate, Manchester United would roar back to win the second leg 4-3 with David Beckham coming off the bench to score a sensational late brace.
It was Beckham’s final Champions League appearance for United before his move to, you guessed it, Real Madrid.
Real Madrid return to action in this season’s Champions League Round of 16 with a marquee showdown against PSG and former-Barca star Neymar Jr. Ensure you see all the action when Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real take on Neymar’s PSG with this exclusive, free trial of FOX Soccer Match Pass. Live, on-demand and with no commercials or advertisements, enjoy your first seven days free with the ability to stream whatever match you desire.
Watch This: A 26-year-old Ronaldo completes his superlative hat-trick at Old Trafford with a screamer, but United save face with Beckham scoring one of the finest free kicks of his career.
April 24, 2013 | Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund 4 - 1 Real Madrid
Just how good were Borussia Dortmund at this point? Well, four goals from Robert Lewandowski in 66 minutes of play at Signal Iduna Park pretty much ended Real Madrid before the return leg at the Bernabeu was even considered.
With Jurgen Klopp at the helm and the likes of Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels in the starting eleven, the giants of Real were absolutely played off the park by Klopp's entertainers.
Watch This: Lewandowski's fourth goal of the match effectively buries Real Madrid after only 66’ of semifinal play.
May 17, 2006 | Stade de France, Paris
Barcelona 2 -1 Arsenal
Before Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta started running things at Barcelona, the club relied heavily on the famous trio of Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o. This was their crowning achievement together, a hard-earned victory over one of Arsene Wenger’s finest Arsenal sides.
With the likes of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Sol Campbell, Arsenal were formidable from front to back, but an early red card to goalkeeper Jens Lehmann threatened to derail their entire game plan.
Remarkably, Campbell scored the opener and the Gunners held out until late in the second half. However, Barca found their equalizer through Eto’o, and defender Juliano Belletti was an unlikely source for the game-winner. It was the Catalan club’s second-ever Champions League title and first since 1992.
Watch This: Juliano Belletti finally crushes Arsenal’s brave 10-man resistance, giving Barcelona their first European crown of the new millennium.
April 21, 1999 | Delle Alpi, Turin
Manchester United 3 - 2 Juventus
Although the final to come against Bayern Munich is what’s most often eulogized, Manchester United’s remarkable comeback against Juventus in the semis was one for the ages.
Filippo Inzaghi scored twice in the opening 11 minutes of the second leg to give Juve a 3-1 aggregate lead, but United fought back with their hugely influential captain Roy Keane cutting into the advantage first.
Further goals from Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole would book United’s place in the final and set up a date with destiny. Keane would tragically be forced to sit out the final through suspension after picking up a booking in this game, but it was certainly the finest individual performance of his storied career.
And guess what? With FOX Soccer Match Pass, you can watch Manchester United's return to the Champions League Round of 16 in their upcoming match against Sevilla. Stream the match of your choosing without commercials or advertisements, and re-visit classic United games with a huge library of full match video replays. Do we think this is a good idea? Yes. Yes we do.
Watch This: With the match firmly in Ferguson’s “squeaky-bum time,” Cole follows up on Yorke’s mesmerizing run to secure United’s place in the final.
April 7, 2004 | Estadio Riazor, A Coruna
Deportivo 4 - 0 Milan
Both one of the greatest comebacks and greatest upsets in Champions League history, Deportivo Coruna vs. AC Milan had it all. Milan had thumped Deportivo 4-1 in the first leg at the San Siro with goals from veritable footballing legends Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo.
The second leg in Galicia seemed like a formality, but an early goal from Deportivo’s Walter Pandiani in the fifth minute triggered an Italian armageddon.
In the 35th, Juan Carlos Valeron made it mission possible with Deportivo’s second. Then, just before the stroke of halftime, Albert Luque gave his side the most remarkable of away goal advantages with Deportivo’s third on the night. Things were on a knife edge until Fran popped up to score Deportivo’s fourth, sending the 29,000 inside Coruna’s Estadio Riazor into delirium.
Watch This: The giants of Milan are felled as Fran’s late goal tears the roof off the Estadio Riazor.
March 16, 2016 | Allianz Arena, Munich
Bayern Munich 4 - 2 Juventus
After a wild 2-2 draw at Juventus Stadium, the stage was set for more of the same at Bayern’s Allianz Arena in the return leg.
Early strikes from Paul Pogba and Juan Cuadrado stunned the 70,000 in attendance, and with over 70 minutes gone and Juve still holding their two-goal advantage, all seemed lost in Bavaria.
Robert Lewandowski cut the deficit to one in the 73rd minute, but Juve’s vaunted rearguard prevented the equalizer until the death, when Thomas Muller added to his own legend with another vital goal to send the match into extra time.
Juve were understandably stunned, and goals from Thiago and Kingsley Coman (actually on loan from the Italian club) in the second period of extra time sent the Germans through to the quarterfinals.
Watch This: Coman’s cross to the far post in the 91' is met by the head of Muller, giving Bayern life.
May 6, 2009 | Stamford Bridge, London
Chelsea 1 - 1 Barcelona
Perhaps the most theatric match in the history of the Champions League, Barcelona’s 1-1 away goal victory will live in infamy – although there was nothing dirty about Andres Iniesta’s game-winner.
After a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou in the first leg, Chelsea got off to a dream start with Michael Essien thundering one home from 20 yards out. From then until the 93rd minute, Chelsea felt they had four separate penalty appeals wrongly waved off by Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.
Of course, that would come back to haunt the Blues as Iniesta struck gold at the death with Barcelona’s only shot on target. The referee was instantly berated by Chelsea players, with Didier Drogba notoriously shouting, "It’s a f*cking disgrace" into a live television camera.
On Tuesday, February 20th, these two European giants will do battle again in this season's Round of 16. You can watch Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard go toe-to-toe with, you guessed it, FOX Soccer Match Pass. Your first seven days are free. For godsake, do yourself a favor and give it a try.
Watch This: Iniesta curls one in from the top of the box in the 93’ to send Chelsea crashing out, triggering infamous scenes inside Stamford Bridge.
April 9, 2013 | Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund 3 - 2 Malaga
A heartbreaking defeat for unfancied Malaga, who were just minutes away from becoming the story of the 2012-13 Champions League. Managed by the great statesman Manuel Pellegrini and with a 21-year-old Isco spearheading the attack, Malaga had already shocked the world by advancing to the quarterfinals in their first-ever UCL campaign.
After a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Malaga, the Spanish side not only braved the ferocious Signal Idunal Park in Dortmund, for 90 minutes they excelled.
Joaquin had given Malaga a shock lead in the 25th minute, but Robert Lewandowski restored parity just before halftime. In the 82nd minute, it was Portuguese winger Eliseu who had almost certainly booked the Spanish club’s place in the semis. Nothing short of two goals would reverse the tie for Dortmund, and the first didn’t even arrive until the first minute of stoppage time.
Marco Reus gave Dortmund hope, and then Malaga tragically collapsed only two minutes later as Felipe Santana snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for BVB.
Malaga haven't returned to the Champions League since.
Watch This: Reus’ 91’ goal had given BVB belief, but nobody really expected Santana to snatch this sensational winner only moments later
May 6, 2015 | Camp Nou, Barcelona
Barcelona 3 - 0 Bayern Munich
Put simply, Lionel Messi’s second goal defined the Digital Age. What he did to Bayern Munich center back Jerome Boateng was unutterable — it simply had to be seen many times in quick repetition to be totally understood.
Munich’s defense at the Camp Nou was sent rocking by Messi’s long-range drive in the 77th minute, and then the Argentinian wizard broke the internet with his second in the 80th. By the time Bayern could see straight, Neymar had added Barca’s third and the Blaugrana where well on their way to the final in Berlin.
Watch This: Then watch it again and again and again.
April 24, 2012 | Camp Nou, Barcelona
Barcelona 2 - 2 Chelsea
While Chelsea had done brilliantly to deny Barcelona an away goal in the first leg, nobody expected their slender 1-0 advantage to withstand the might of Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and that logic was quickly proven correct. Sergio Busquets evened the tie in the 35th minute, and Andres Iniesta added another in the 43rd.
Chelsea really had no business at this stage of the tournament, and everyone seemed to finally accept that…except the Chelsea players.
Just before halftime, Ramires restored Chelsea’s advantage on away goals. However, with a full 45 still to play, things weren’t even close to being settled. But Chelsea stood firm, and the English club’s stunning victory was finally confirmed when the much-maligned Fernando Torres was sent racing through on goal in the 92nd minute. His finish promptly provided one of the greatest goal calls of all-time from English commentator Gary Neville.
Watch This: After having their goal bombarded for 45 minutes by a Barcelona side that continuously looked like finding the winner, Torres races away from midfield and books Chelsea’s place in the final.
May 24, 2014 | Estadio da Luz, Lisbon
Real Madrid 4 - 1 Atletico Madrid
The final scoreline does absolutely zero justice to the dramatics of this match and the effort put forth by Diego Simeone’s Atletico. The victory resulted in Real’s much coveted La Decima (their 10th European crown), but they were made to suffer for it.
A well-drilled Atletico side took the lead in the 36th minute through center back Diego Godin, and the match was then on a knife edge for nearly an hour. Try as they might, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Alvaro Morata could not find the equalizer for Real.
But in the 93rd minute, Sergio Ramos managed it with a patented header at the death. Atletico were clearly broken, but the end of the first half of extra time saw the sides still level.
The second half was a different story with Bale, Marcelo and finally Ronaldo earning a deserved victory in a final that frayed the nerves.
Watch This: Moments from their first-ever European crown, Atletico are crushed by Ramos’ inspirational header.
May 28, 2011 | Wembley Stadium, London
Barcelona 3 - 1 Manchester United
According to legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, this was the best team he ever faced. If you watched this final, you’d have to agree.
Lionel Messi was at his brilliant best, turning in a performance for the ages, but United just couldn’t get close to the intricate passing, movement and possession generated by the midfield trio of Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Xavi.
Wayne Rooney was also at the height of his powers for Manchester United and scored a great goal in the 34th minute, but strikes from Pedro, Messi and David Villa saw Barca absolutely hammer England’s best, leaving Ferguson bewildered.
Watch This: Against the run of play, Rooney had scored a fine equalizer for United, but Barcelona’s clear superiority was reenforced when Messi drove one in from 20 yards out.
May 19, 2012 | Allianz Arena, Munich
Chelsea 1 - 1 Bayern Munich (Chelsea 4-3 on penalties)
After shocking both Napoli and Barcelona in the knockout rounds, Chelsea’s ragtag group of diehards, under the direction of interim boss Roberto Di Matteo, approached Bayern Munich in the final at Bayern's own Allianz Arena as massive underdogs.
But it was written in the stars (and Chelsea had one Didier Drogba, who would not be denied his Champions League title).
Thomas Muller gave Bayern the lead in the 83rd minute, but Drogba found the equalizer in the 88th with a header off a Juan Mata corner. Drogba’s status as a favored man was further confirmed in extra time after his foul on Franck Ribery led to an Arjen Robben spot kick. However, Petr Cech saved the penalty.
The match went to a shootout, and Drogba scored Chelsea’s fifth to make the club London’s first Champions League winners.
Watch This: The inspirational Drogba scored Chelsea’s lone goal in the 88’ and then his side’s final penalty to win the trophy and UEFA Man of the Match honors.
March 8, 2017 | Camp Nou, Barcelona
Barcelona 6 - 1 PSG
The greatest comeback in Champions League history and one of the greatest in all of sports, Barcelona’s stirring recovery after a 4-0 first leg defeat will probably never be repeated again.
PSG’s performance in the first leg should’ve been the stuff of legend – never has a team so thoroughly dominated Messi’s Barcelona – but the Catalan club made history at the Camp Nou with Neymar proving instrumental in the match’s final seven minutes.
Barca still needed three goals as the clock entered the 88th minute, and Neymar duly provided with a stunning free kick, a penalty and an assist for Sergi Roberto’s gobstopping winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
With Neymar now at PSG, the Parisian side will be looking to avenge last year’s humiliation, beginning with a massive clash against the back-to-back world champions, Real Madrid. Don’t miss the tie of the round by signing up for your free trial of FOX Soccer Match Pass today.
Watch This: Barcelona’s historic comeback is complete when Neymar’s lofted ball finds Roberto in the box. Cue pandemonium.
May 26, 1999 | Camp Nou, Barcelona
Manchester United 2 - 1 Bayern Munich
Trailing 1-0 as the clock entered the allotted three minutes of injury time, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were done and dusted. With goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel coming up for a corner kick, United were acting out of sheer desperation when the chaotic set piece finally resulted in Teddy Sheringham grabbing a 91st minute equalizer.
With extra time now looking a certainty, United super sub Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got on the end of another corner to earn a miraculous victory for the Red Devils. Bayern were left absolutely devastated.
Watch This: United’s legendary fightback is complete when Solskjaer nets the winner in the 93’. Legendary referee Pierluigi Collina would later liken the noise generated by the goal to that of a “lion’s roar.”
May 25, 2005 | Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul
Liverpool 3 - 3 AC Milan (Liverpool 3-2 on penalties)
The greatest game ever played. From Steven Gerrard’s remarkable embodiment of leadership to Jerzy Dudek’s unbelievable double save on Andriy Shevchenko in extra time and subsequent penalty antics (while also making note of Kaka's superlative performance in defeat), this match was an all-timer.
Watch This: We picked some of the best highlights below, but honestly just watch the full match highlights. No one moment does this final justice.
This spring, we’re guaranteed to be making adjustments to this list following some titanic clashes in this season’s Champions League. Don’t miss any of it with a subscription to FOX Soccer Match Pass, giving you live and on-demand coverage of every UCL match without the commercials and commitments. In case you didn't notice, we think it's a pretty good idea for any Champions League fan.