Man City v Inter Milan deemed biggest mismatch in Champions League final history

Man City v Inter Milan deemed biggest mismatch in Champions League final history
2005 Champions League final scoreboard - AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool Credit: Alamy

2005 Champions League final scoreboard – AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool Credit: Alamy

The Champions League final should be a showcase of the two best teams in Europe, but this is not always the case. In fact, it is rarely the case.

Manchester City secured their spot in this season’s final with an emphatic aggregate victory over reigning champions Real Madrid, setting up an encounter against Inter Milan. They should win comfortably, but this is football and anything can happen.

Featuring that exact fixture, here are the five biggest mismatches (on paper) in Champions League final history. Emphasis on Champions League. This is post-1992 only. You know, when football was invented.


5) Chelsea v Bayern Munich (2012)
Bayern Munich’s 2011/12 and 2012/13 campaigns match the meme ‘You vs the boy she tells you not to worry about’. In 11/12, they finished second in the Bundesliga and lost the Champions League and DFB-Pokal finals, coming so close, but oh so very far. The following year they won the treble, the first in the club’s history.

The German giants were heavily favoured to win the 2012 Champions League final against Chelsea. The Blues had defended very well to reach the showpiece event, riding their luck at times in the semi-final against reigning champions Barcelona. Had Lionel Messi scored that second-leg penalty, everything could have been so, so different.

Chelsea went into the final – at Bayern’s home stadium, obviously – without captain, leader, legend John Terry, and Branislav Ivanovic, who found out about his suspension courtesy of Geoff Shreeves in one of the most awkward interactions between interviewer and interviewee in the history of anything ever.

Roberto Di Matteo was in charge of the Premier League club who had finished sixth that season. They were without several undisputed starters. Ryan Bertrand began on the left wing ahead of Ashley Cole. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich had Jupp Heynckes in charge of a team featuring Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm and Manuel Neuer. Chelsea obviously had a few world-class players, but Bayern had home advantage and a much better team.

Alas, Chelsea won on penalties. Because obviously they did.


4) Liverpool v Tottenham (2019)
Liverpool comfortably won one of the dullest Champions League finals in history against Premier League rivals Tottenham in Madrid on June 1, 2019.

The 18/19 Liverpool team was arguably the best of the Jurgen Klopp era. They had painfully finished second in the league, accumulating a ridiculous 97 points having lost a single game, while Spurs finished fourth, one point ahead of arch-rivals Arsenal. To make matters worse for Arsenal fans, they had to support Liverpool in a Champions League final as they hoped and prayed the most unthinkable natural disaster did not come to fruition.

 Credit: Alamy

Credit: Alamy

The 2019 Champions League final went according to the script. Spurs midfielder Moussa Sissoko decided to make himself as big as possible, leaving his arm out for Sadio Mane to intentionally find it, giving the Reds a second-minute penalty. Mohamed Salah converted and killed the game.

Mauricio Pochettino made the big call to start an unfit Harry Kane ahead of Lucas Moura, who did you know what in the semis against Ajax. His spine in midfield was Sissoko and Harry Winks. His super-subs were Fernando Llorente, Eric Dier and Moura. Liverpool were at their absolute peak and favourites to win the second we knew the participants for the final.


3) Real Madrid v Valencia (2000)
Yes, we do realise there are a number of Champions League finals that did not include an English team. The most one-sided of those was Real Madrid v Valencia in an all-Spanish final in the first of the 21st century.

Valencia were bloody good for a period of time, which makes their current demise all the more painful. They topped their group ahead of Bayern Munich, beat Lazio and Barcelona on their way to the final and had some very talented players. Real Madrid were just an awful lot better.

Led by Vicente del Bosque, Los Blancos won 3-0 thanks to goals from Fernando Morientes, Raul and everyone’s favourite co-commentator, Steve McManaman.

Valencia would return to the Champions League final a year later, losing on penalties to Bayern. Ouch.


2) AC Milan v Liverpool (2005)
Liverpool won the most iconic Champions League final when they had no right whatsoever to do so. Steven Gerrard is the reason they managed to beat one of the best club teams ever. Even Jamie Carragher said before the final that this Liverpool team were worse than the one that won the UEFA Cup in 2001.

Everyone knows the story of Istanbul. The Reds were 3-0 down at half-time and Rafael Benitez brought Didi Hamann on and the game changed.

Liverpool would have finished third in their group if it wasn’t for a pretty famous Gerrard goal against Olympiakos. They reached the final in dramatic fashion, edging past English champions Chelsea 1-0 across two legs in the last four, progressing thanks to another famous moment, this time Luis Garcia’s ghost goal. Did it cross the line? Nobody knows.

This Milan team was ridiculously superior to Liverpool, who had Djimi Traore, for crying out loud. 3-0 at half-time was a surprise as it was a Champions League final, but it also wasn’t a surprise because of the incredible talent oozing throughout Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Gerrard is probably the only Reds player who would have got in that Milan team. And for who? Andrea Pirlo? Gennaro Gattuso? Clarence Seedorf? Kaka? Just a ridiculous team that BOTTLED IT the stupid BOTTLE MERCHANTS.

These two sides met in the Champions League final two years later, with Milan getting their revenge. That doesn’t get in this top five, but the final Liverpool won does. Funny old game, isn’t it?


1) Manchester City v Inter Milan (2023)
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are on an absolutely ludicrous run and casually beat Champions League experts Real Madrid by four goals to nil in their semi-final second leg. This should be the most one-sided final in the competition’s history. No disrespect to Inter Milan, who are obviously a very good team; they wouldn’t be where they are if they were s**t.

Inter’s defensive record in this season’s competition is outstanding and they will need to carry this into the final with City eyeing a historic treble. The Premier League champions have been here before having lost against Chelsea in Porto in 2021, so will be a bit more streetwise. They also might not lose Kevin De Bruyne to concussion this time. Oh, and they have this guy calling Erling Haaland. You might have heard of him.

This is the best City have ever been. Guardiola cannot afford to overcomplicate things like he loves to do. Inter are third in Serie A, 17 points behind champions Napoli. Getting to this final is a huge achievement but they go into the fixture the as the biggest underdogs in Champions League history. Lautaro Martinez, Nicolo Barella and Andre Onana are three of 11-plus that will need to have the game of their lives.

READ MORE: Top scorers in 2023: Surprise Champions League finalist moves just behind Rashford

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