A final played between two historic clubs in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion (named after the great innovator and coach) in Vienna, Austria. Both Louis Van Gaal and Fabio Capello were young coaches 20 years (!) ago at the time of this final. Neither team had any trouble reaching the final, as Ajax beat Hajduk Split 3-0 and Bayern Munich 5-2 – and AC Milan beat Benifica 2-0 and PSG 3-0 to reach Europe’s biggest stage. Though both teams were dominant on their road to the final, neither team played well enough to create more than a few chances – which resulted in the only goal coming in the 85th minute.
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“The Special One” met his former mentor from their days in Barcelona on Europe’s biggest stage. Inter Milan had just come off of a legendary performance against Guardiola’s FC Barcelona, winning 3-2 on aggregate with only 10 men on the pitch. Van Gaal’s Bayern defeated Lyon 4-0 in the other semi-final (and got to that point by defeating both Fiorentina and Manchester United 4-4 on away goals).
The all English final. All of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and United were actually in this season’s Champions League quarter-final – an impressive showing for English football. Manchester United were able to narrowly beat a struggling Barcelona with Ronaldinho on his way out, and Chelsea were able to defeat Liverpool in extra time to reach this final. It was a great game which was dictated by Manchester United’s quick possession and combination play.
This is easily one of the most memorable Champions League matches of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. United leave this Champions League quarter-final tie with one of the most dominant score lines in the history of the competition. In the first leg of this quarter-final Roma had won 2-1 at home so it was up to United to come out and attack to survive – and that’s exactly what they did.
Pep Guardiola vs. Sir Alex Ferguson in the Champions League final. Two of the best coaches in the history of the game (and two of my personal favorites) meet on the biggest stage in European club football. Ferguson called this the best team he has ever faced – and with good reason – as Guardiola’s Barcelona was near its peak and their focus on controlling the center while maintaining the ball was too much for the Red Devils.
Blanc and PSG showed why they are underrated with a good performance away to the European giant Real Madrid. Los Blancos displayed some worrying qualities on defense while PSG seems to have improved their possession game since the previous season. PSG had some problems in defense as well, but their use of the ball resulted in a match where they were very unlucky to lose 1:0.
An interesting tactical battle between two of the top teams on the planet. Pep Guardiola finally really beats Roger Schmidt with a very interesting and fluid system. Leverkusen executed their usual game plan of intense pressing and lay-off/combination focus in transitions, but Bayern was able to nullify both of these aspects in a unique way.
Barcelona winning the Copa Del Rey means they have secured the double and kept the possibility of completing the treble alive. Athletic Club came out to play with a game plan that was surprisingly bad.
Barcelona faced PSG in Paris for the first leg of the Quarter Finals. Barcelona dominated the game in what was another world-class showing for Lionel Messi. Messi’s reaction to PSG’s asymmetrical 4-4-2 along with Barcelona wing-combinations resulted in the 1-3 away win for Lucho’s men.
This match was one of the most impressive performances put on by Arsenal in a very long time. The pressing movements of the Gunners were set up perfectly for Liverpool’s system in the first half.