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Five great sides

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-05 07:50

Real Madrid made history on Saturday by beating Juventus to become the first side to retain the Champions League for 27 years. Here, AFP Sports looks at five other great sides that dominated Europe in their peak.

* Real Madrid (1955-1960)

The belief in Madrid that the European Cup is its competition goes back to the tournament's origins in the 1950s.

French sports newspaper L'Equipe proposed the tournament to decide who was the best club side in Europe.

Madrid emphatically stamped its mark on the competition, winning the first five editions of the trophy, beating France's Stade de Reims twice in the final either side of victories over Italian clubs Fiorentina and AC Milan.

However, the crowning glory of a side containing legendary names like Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas came in thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.

In front of a record attendance for a European Cup final of more than 127,000 at Glasgow's Hampden Park, Puskas and Di Stefano combined for all seven goals.

* Ajax (1970-1973)

The side that gave birth to the fabled Dutch philosophy of "Total Football", Ajax won three European Cups in a row.

Despite losing coach Rinus Michels to Barcelona after its first final victory over Panathinaikos in 1971, legendary playmaker Johan Cruyff led Ajax to a hat-trick of titles by seeing off Italian giant Inter Milan and Juventus before Cruyff left to join Michels at Barca.

* Bayern Munich (1973-1976)

The dissolving of that great Ajax side cleared the path for Franz Beckenbauer's Bayern Munich to begin its own reign of dominance by matching the Amsterdam club's achievement with three straight European Cups.

However, the Bavarians had some fortune on their side as a goalkeeping error in the final minute of extra time from Miguel Reina forced its first final against Atletico Madrid to a replay, which it duly cruised 4-0.

Leeds United was Bayern's next victim the following year before it saw off Saint-Etienne thanks to another few slices of luck.

Twice Saint-Etienne hit the crossbar in what has gone down in folklore as the final of the "square posts" in France due to the unusual shape of the woodwork at Hampden Park.

Liverpool (1976-1984)

During an unprecedented period of success for English sides in Europe, Liverpool led the way with four European Cups in eight years in the late 70s and early 80s.

Equally as dominant on the domestic front, a side boasting the likes of Scottish great Kenny Dalglish also won seven league titles in nine years.

Borussia Monchengladbach and Club Brugge were defeated in the final for back-to-back triumphs in 1977 and 1978 before the might of Madrid was tamed in the 1981 final.

The Reds' glory era was rounded off by defying a baying home crowd to defeat Roma on penalties in the Italian capital in 1984.

Barcelona (2008-2013)

Barca also won four Champions Leagues over a decade between 2005 and 2015, but it was the side coached by Pep Guardiola for four years that is truly considered one of the best of all time.

The Catalans beat a Manchester United team containing Cristiano Ronaldo 2-0 in the 2009 final thanks to goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi to win the first treble ever achieved by a Spanish side.

However, the performance in sweeping aside United 3-1 two years later at Wembley was the peak of Guardiola's glorious reign, with Messi once again on the scoresheet.


(China Daily 06/05/2017 page24)

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