Only the best teams from all the European top-flight leagues make it to the UEFA Champions League. That's why the Champions League trophy is the most coveted piece of silverware in club football.
And since it is the best of the best that make it to the Champions League, one wouldn't expect much of a gulf in class between the teams that go up against each other. But there have been several exceptions to this. Top teams have been dismantled and left humiliated many times in the Champions League.
The feeling of embarrassment is greater when such a loss happens in a game where the teams are more or less equally matched on paper or if a lesser team pulls an upset on a bigger one in a comprehensive fashion. Let's take a look at the most embarrassing defeats in the UEFA Champions League.
#5 Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid 2008/09
Back before they had signed Cristiano Ronaldo and back when they weren't dominating the Champions League like they did in the second decade of the 21st century, Real Madrid went on an embarrassing streak of getting eliminated in the first round of the knockout stage for 6 consecutive seasons.
Real Madrid went to Anfield carrying a 1-0 deficit from their defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu hoping to turn their fortunes around. Liverpool came out swinging from the get-go and threatened to score every time they attacked.
Casillas made two world-class saves inside the opening minutes but they weren't able to keep Liverpool at bay for long. Rafa Benitez's side tore into Real Madrid and Fernando Torres scored the opener in the 16th minute. Shortly after, Gerrard converted from the spot to increase their aggregate advantage to 3-0.
Ryan Babel scored early in the second half and Andre Dossena came from the bench to put the icing on the cake and Liverpool won the match 4-0 in the most comprehensive fashion.
Real Madrid were simply outclassed on the day and a 5-0 defeat to Liverpool was perhaps their most embarrassing defeat in their awful streak in the Champions League at the time.
#4 Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona 2018/19
After losing the first leg of the 2018/19 Champions League semi-final 3-0 to Barcelona, nobody gave Liverpool a chance to go through. Though Anfield has been a very hostile place for visitors, an in-form Barcelona were expected to see off the possibility of a Liverpool comeback with ease.
It was the first time in 1986 that a team had overturned a 3-0 deficit to win a semi-final and though the dream looked really distant, Liverpool turned up the heat from the get-go and did not give Barcelona a moment's peace.
Divock Origi opened the scoring for the Reds in the 7th minute. The game slowed down subsequently but Liverpool upped the ante post the restart and a 2 minute brace from Georginio Wijnaldum, 10 minutes into the second half, turned the tide in Liverpool's favour.
Just when you thought Barcelona would finally get their act together, they conceded a goal in the most embarrassing fashion and virtually gifted Liverpool a spot in the final. Barcelona conceded a corner in the 79th minute and the players just switched off for the next 10 seconds or so.
Trent Alexander Arnold pretended to be walking away from the ball after setting it up at the corner before finding the Barca players sleeping and returned to smash it into the box to Divock Origi who popped up at the right place with great anticipation and slotted it past Marc Andre-ter Stegen to seal the deal for Jurgen Klopp's men.