The European Cup/Champions League has invariably been dominated by a cluster of clubs. We are currently in the era of the mega-clubs, the Barcelonas, Real Madrids, Bayern Munichs and Manchester Uniteds of this world. The pundits are predicting the dawn of a new age with the first all-German final, saying it heralds a new period of Bayern supremacy. Since it started in 1955-56, the competition has been “ruled” by the following teams:
1956-1960: Real Madrid
1961-1965: Benfica and Inter Milan
1971-1973: Ajax Amsterdam
1974-1976: Bayern Munich
1989-1994: AC Milan
1998-2002: Real Madrid
Only 13 countries have provided finalists since 1956: Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Yugoslavia.
There have been only three other occasions when the two finalists have come from the same country: 2000 – Spain; 2003 – Italy; 2008 – England.
The most common permutations have been Spain v Italy and England v Germany, both of which have resulted in six finals.
Since the European Cup became the UEFA Champions League, the competition has been dominated by Spain, Italy, England and Germany. Only once since 1993 has the final been contested by clubs from countries outside that quartet. In fact, of the 21 finals since 1993, only four have not been between clubs from those countries, including the four mono-national finals.
The last time a finalist came from a country other than Spain, Germany, England or Italy was in 2004 when Porto won the competition – the game that brought Jose Mourinho to the footballing world.