Top 10 Most Famous Football Teams That Never Won the UEFA Champions League

Tags: #UEFAChampionsLeague ,   #ChampionsLeague ,   #ManchesterCity ,   #Football ,   #Soccer

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2023-03-20 06:00:09

The Champions League is the most popular association football tournament globally, easily rivaling the FIFA World Cup. It is organized by the UEFA every year to determine the best European football club. The winners of the Champions League are immortalized, and their names are engraved on it. Yet, some of the most popular football teams never won the Champions League. Therefore, this top ten list is all about them.

10. Monaco

This small town/state almost won the trophy

As one of the best teams playing in a league of another country, Monaco's only Champions League final was in 2004 when they met Porto at the Arena Auf Schalke in Gelsenkirchen. Monaco made a sensation after sensation in the elimination round to reach the finals. They defeated Lokomotiv Moscow, Real Madrid, and Chelsea, earning their title shot. 

Unfortunately, Porto was overwhelming and compellingly defeated Monaco by a score of 3-0. Interestingly enough, the Champions League in 2004 was the first one that didn't have a second group stage. Instead, a 16-team elimination round didn't leave much room for mistakes.

9. Sampdoria 

The best Italian club in 1992 fell short to Barca

Nowadays, it sounds pretty weird, but Sampdoria was among the best Italian clubs in the early nineties. As a matter of fact, they actually reached the Champions League finals in 1992. The game took place at Wembley Stadium in London against Barcelona. This rugged, defensive clash finished without goals in regular time. 

Yet, Barcelona scored the decisive goal via their future coach Ronald Koeman in extra-time. Therefore, they won their first Champions League trophy, taking many more in the following decades. As for Sampdoria, the club from Genoa never reached these heights again.

8. Bayer Leverkusen 

The ambition for the championship was thwarted by Real Madrid

Bayer Leverkusen had a tough road to the 2002 UEFA Champions League final. Three of their opponents were from England, and they single-handedly eliminated all the Premier League teams in the Champions League. Bayer defeated Arsenal in the second group round, then Liverpool in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, they beat Manchester United. 

On May 15, 2002, the final game took place at Hampden Park in Glasgow against Real Madrid, which they lost 1-2. The final winning goal, scored by Zinedine Zidane, is one of the most famous and beautiful goals scored in the Champions League finals. Well, maybe the team that never won the national league doesn't deserve to become the champions of Europe.

7. Valencia 

Two attempts, but zero wins in finals

While Valencia has been in two consecutive UEFA Champions League finals, they still don't have any trophies. The first time they were in the finals of the 2000 UEFA Champions League at the Stade de France in Paris, against Real Madrid. The final score was 3-0 for the royal club, not to anyone's surprise. 

The very next year, Valencia managed to challenge for another title. This time, the game took place at San Siro in Milan, Italy. The opponent was Bayern Munich, and Valencia proved to be their equal for the whole 120 minutes. Unfortunately, the penalty shootouts favored the Bavarians, who won 5-4.

6. Roma 

Liverpool wasn’t good for Roma in both occasions

So far, Roma has featured in only one final of the Champions League. It was in 1984 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome against Liverpool, which already had three trophies. The game concluded 1-1, as Phil Neal scored for Liverpool and Roberto Pruzzo for Roma. 

Therefore, it came down to a penalty shootout to determine the winner. Liverpool was better, and they secured their fourth Champions League trophy. As for Roma, they came the closest to another final in the season 2017-18. They reached the semis but unfortunately lost 7-6 in the aggregate, again against Liverpool.

5. Tottenham 

Tottenham lost in the first English final in 10 years

Interestingly enough, we had to wait for the season 2018-19 to see the first all-English final in the Champions League in ten years. Previously, it happened in 2008 when Manchester United beat Chelsea in Moscow. This time, the participants were Tottenham and Liverpool. 

On June 1, 2019, the final took place at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. Liverpool already had five Champions League trophies, while it was Tottenham's first and only final. Unsurprisingly, Liverpool triumphed 2-0, thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi. Thus, they took the trophy home for the sixth time.

4. Paris Saint-Germain 

Huge investment but no UCL trophy, French edition

Paris Saint-Germain had its own Renaissance after Qatari-based owners took over. The massive investment in the club finally paid off in 2020, when they reached the finals for the first time. Unfortunately, their opponent was the very inspired team of Bayern Munich. 

The final game took place at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on August 23, 2020. The season before was riddled by a coronavirus, and it was full of absent players and delayed games. Consequently, instead of May, the final game was played in August. Bayern Munich put a sad end to the Paris Saint-Germain fairy tale by winning 1-0.

3. Manchester City

Huge investment but no UCL trophy, English edition

The Champions League final in 2021 was turbulent and unpredictable because the entire competition was troubled by COVID-19. However, Manchester City, under the new wealthy owners, lacked only the famous trophy to complete the legacy as one of the best teams on The Island. And they came closest so far in another English final, against Chelsea.

The game was to be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg. However, due to the Covid complications, it was relocated to the Estádio do Dragão, Porto. Unfortunately for City, Chelsea won, scoring early in the first half and keeping the result to the end. The defeat in the Champions League finals will remain the thorn in the side of Manchester City.

2. Atletico Madrid 

The most tragic team of the UCL finals, with 0-3 score

Atletico Madrid is probably the least fortunate club when it comes to Champions League finals. They have participated in three finals so far, without a victory. The first time Atletico was in the finals was in 1974. That time, they played the double leg finals against Bayern Munich and lost 5-1 on aggregate. 

Atletico Madrid had to wait 40 years for another chancel. In 2014, they clashed with their city rivals Real Madrid for the trophy. Yet, they lost soundly, 4-1. Two years later, Atletico and Real Madrid met again in the final of the Champions League. Atletico was much more of an equal opponent to Real this time, but they failed on penalties.

1. Arsenal 

The only team of The Big Four without the UCL trophy

Although they participated in only one Champions League final, Arsenal is undoubtedly the most famous European football club never to win a Champions League trophy. Their only chance came in May 2006. The game took place at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris, against Barcelona. 

The final result was 2-1 in favor of the Catalan team. Samuel Eto'o and Julian Belletti scored for Barcelona, while Sol Campbell hit the target for The Gunners. Up to this day, Arsenal remains the only one of the English Big Four clubs that didn't win the Champions League. The other three are Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool.

Like every other competitive game, football can have only one winner. However, if there is a winner, there's also a loser. The Championship League is highly competitive, and the stakes are pretty high. Losing the finals in a competition like that can affect the losing club significantly. The majority of the clubs never played in a final, some played only once, and very few attempted to win the trophy multiple times.

What are your favorite Champions League losers? Which clubs would you add to this list?

Cover photo: jorono/Pixabay



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Wayne C Says:

It's funny how PSG and Man City are throwing away so much money and they still can't win the trophy.

July 03 at 04:55:35 PM

Zeith Says:

And they are favorites every year. The big numbers theory says they will eventually win it in this decade.

November 23 at 03:52:58 PM

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