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5 greatest teams that failed to win the Champions League

PSG are tipped to win the Champions League this season
PSG are tipped to win the Champions League this season
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Aditya Duse

The UEFA Champions League is the most difficult and demanding competition in club football, with the best teams in Europe competing against each other to be crowned champions.

Chelsea were the latest team to win the Champions League after beating favorites Manchester City 1-0 in Porto thanks to a Kai Havertz goal back in May

PSG are the favourites to win the Champions League this season

PSG arguably had the best transfer window in football history this summer as they signed Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi.

With the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar already at the club, PSG boast one of the best squads ever and are favorites to lift the Champions League.

But many of the best teams in the past have been unable to get their hands on the Champions League trophy. These team performed extremely well in their domestic campaigns but could not win the ultimate prize in Europe.

So let's take a at the 5 best teams who were unable to win the Champions League:


#5 Atletico Madrid (2013-14)

Atletico Madrid lost the 2014 Champions League final to Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid lost the 2014 Champions League final to Real Madrid

Since the arrival of Diego Simeone in 2011, Atletico Madrid have been one of the best teams both domestically and in Europe. He took over a team that had finished seventh in La Liga the previous season and had been knocked out in the group stages of the Europa League. The Argentine transformed them into one of the best teams in Spain alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona.

In the 2013-14 season, Simeone managed to clinch the La Liga title, Atletico's first in 18 years. They also became the only team in Spain to win La Liga other than Barcelona or Real Madrid since 2004. Los Colchoneros even managed to stay unbeaten in the Champions League, reaching the final all the way while conceding just six goals in 12 games.

They faced a familiar opponent in the final in the form of Real Madrid. Diego Godin gave Atletico the lead they would almost see out until the end before Sergio Ramos equalized in the third minute of stoppage time. The Los Blancos ran rampant in extra-time, winning 4-1 in the end.

Atletico got another crack at the trophy as they reached the Champions League final in 2016 but lost on penalties to Real Madrid again. Despite two near misses and the heartbreak that came with it, Diego Simeone has not given up on his Champions League dream yet.


#4 Borussia Dortmund (2012-13)

Robben scored a last minute winner against Dortmund in the final
Robben scored a last minute winner against Dortmund in the final

Like Simeone, Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Borussia Dortmund completely changed the fortunes of the club. Before Klopp came to Dortmund, the 1997 Champions League glory was by far the most prominent moment in Dortmund's European history. However, the amiable German brought the club back to continental prominence with his iconic high-energy gegenpressing system, which produced impressive results and excited neutrals.

Klopp established Dortmund as a major force in the Bundesliga, leading them to back-to-back Bundesliga titles before their run to the 2012-13 Champions League final.

Dortmund were drawn in a tough Champions League group with Manchester CIty, Ajax and Real Madrid. But the Germans topped the group without losing a game.

They defeated Shakhtar Donetsk and Malaga in the following rounds, with the latter being defeated by a stunning, last minute winner. Dortmund came face-to-face with Real Madrid in the semi-finals, winning the tie 4-3 on aggregate to set-up a first ever all-German final against Bayern Munich.

Unfortunately for Dortmund they fell to a spirited Bayern side who had lost two finals in three years, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat thanks to a late Arjen Robben goal.

#3 Manchester City (2017-18)

Manchester City could not go past Liverpool in the 2017-18 Champions League
Manchester City could not go past Liverpool in the 2017-18 Champions League

Manchester City came close to winning the Champions League last season but narrowly lost out to Chelsea in the final. They were heavy favorites to win it after a brilliant domestic campaign. But it was their 2017-18 team which would go down as one of the best to not win the Champions League.

Manchester City swept everyone aside in the Premier League that season, and managed to win the league by a whopping 19 points. They were also the first-team to break the 100-point barrier in the league. Pep Guardiola's side also outscored everyone in Europe's top-five leagues, except PSG, while conceding only 27 goals, a defensive record only bettered by Juventus (24) and Atletico Madrid (22).

But they drew Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals and could simply not get past the Reds. An imperious City side were absolutely dismantled in the first-leg at Anfield as Liverpool won 3-0. They were again beaten 2-1 in the return leg and were knocked out of the Champions League.

Real Madrid went on to win the Champions League that season by beating Liverpool in the final. But Pep Guardiola would still regret not being able to get his hands on the trophy with his record-breaking side.


#2 Chelsea (2004-05)

Liverpool managed to edge Chelsea in the Chamipon League semi-finals
Liverpool managed to edge Chelsea in the Chamipon League semi-finals

Jose Mourinho made an immediate and significant impact after arriving at Chelsea. He managed to win the Premier League in his first season in England, setting numerous records along the way. Chelsea's 95-point haul was the highest ever for a single season at the time. Chelsea also set the record for the fewest goals conceded (15), the most wins (29), most away wins (15), and most clean sheets (25) in a single campaign.

But despite setting so many records, Mourinho could not take Chelsea towards the Champions league title as he did with Porto the previous season.

Chelsea started brilliantly in Europe as they managed to top a group featuring PSG, CSKA Moscow and Mourinho's former side Porto. They lost just once on the final day when the top spot was already secured.

They faced a tough draw in the last 16 against Ronaldinho's Barcelona but managed to beat the La Liga giants 5-4 on aggregate after a classic 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge. Bayern Munich fell next as Chelsea beat them in a 6-5 thriller. But Chelsea were knocked out in the semi-finals against Liverpool thanks to a 'ghost goal' from Luis Garcia which gave the Reds a 1-0 aggregate win.


#1 Arsenal (2003-04)

Arsenal fell to a quarter-final defeat against Chelsea
Arsenal fell to a quarter-final defeat against Chelsea

The Invincibles have gone down in Premier League history thanks to their extraordinary unbeaten run in the 2003-04 campaign. Thierry Henry-led Arsenal managed to brush aside all competition in England.

But Arsenal could not have the same success in the Champions League. Arsenal had the worst possible start to their Champions League campaign as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Inter Milan at Highbury in the group stage opener.

This was followed by a draw at Lokomotiv Moscow and an away defeat to Dynamo Kiev. Arsenal's qualification hopes were hanging by a thread. But three wins in their next three group games, including a brilliant 5-1 win at Inter, ensured Arsenal's passage into the knockout stages as group winners.

Arsenal faced Celta Vigo in the last 16 and eased past them with a 5-2 aggregate win to set up a quarter-final against Chelsea. The Gunners managed to secure a 1-1 away draw in the first leg to put them in pole=position and extend their unbeaten run over their London rivals to 17 games.

But Arsenal's streak was broken at the worst possible time as Arsene Wenger's side lost 2-1 at Highbury in the second-leg, having led 1-0 at the break.

Wenger's eternal rival Jose Mourinho eventually went on to win the Champions League that season with Porto. In hindsight, Wenger could have stopped Mourinho's meteoric rise before it even began. History would have been so different if Arsenal had won the Champions League back then.

Edited by Nived Zenith
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