5 Unlikely Champions League Winning Sides

Chelsea

James Budgen

Porto: 2004

The 2004 Champions League winning run is one of the most iconic feats in the competition’s history, one reason being that they knocked out some big teams along the way, as well as the fact it was the breakout of Jose Mourinho onto the European stage.

The fixture that is most known on this run is the second leg of their round of 16 tie with Manchester United at Old Trafford, going into the final minutes, United were winning on away goals going into the final minutes of the game, but a last-minute goal by Costinha sent Porto into the next round, and the famous clip of Mourinho running down the pitch was created.

The rest of Porto’s run included a 4-2 aggregate win over French champions Lyon in the quarter-finals, a 1-0 aggregate victory over Deportivo La Coruna and an impressive 3-0 triumph over AS Monaco in the final.

Liverpool: 2005

Liverpool’s final win over AC Milan could be one of the most unlikely wins, but their whole run as being underdogs every step of the way is a very impressive feat.

Despite finishing 5th in the Premier League in the 2004/05 season, they were able to beat two eventual champions of their respective leagues on the way to the final.

They cruised to a 6-2 aggregate win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16, but in the quarter-finals they faced eventual Serie A winners Juventus (title later stripped), beating them 2-1 over two legs, to then face eventual Premier League champions Chelsea in the semi-finals, but their run continued, winning 1-0 on aggregate to then face reigning Serie A champions AC Milan in the final.

Liverpool found themselves completely outclassed in the first half, losing 3-0 going into half time, but in the second half, they had a spirited comeback to get the score level again and take the game to a penalty shootout, which they won 3-2 to win their fifth European title.

Chelsea: 2012

During the 2011/12 campaign, Chelsea were a club in turmoil, which led to the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas mid-season, and the hiring of interim-manager Roberto Di Matteo, who led them to the club's first European trophy, despite finishing 6th in the league.

Di Matteo's first Champions League game was the second leg of their round of 16 tie with Napoli, with the first game ending 3-1 to Napoli, it was expected to be a formality that Chelsea were to be knocked out, but a 4-1 win after extra-time surprisingly took Chelsea through to the quarter-finals.

They had a comfortable 3-1 aggregate win over Benfica in the quarter-finals but faced reigning Champions League winners Barcelona in the next round where they were heavy underdogs, but they came out 3-2 winners over the two legs, with the second leg in Barcelona being one of the most iconic Champions League matches of all time.

Their final against Bayern Munich wasn’t short of dramatics either, the game took place in Munich, automatically making Chelsea underdogs, but they took the game to penalties, which they came 4-3 victors to complete the unlikely Champions League victory.

Red Star Belgrade: 1991

Red Star Belgrade became the second team from eastern Europe to win the European Cup, with the other being Steaua București, a Romanian team, in 1986.

In this version of the European Cup, every team who participated were the reigning champions of their league, and in the first three rounds, Belgrade blitzed their opponents, beating Grasshopper 5-2 on aggregate, Rangers 4-1 on aggregate and Dynamo Dresden 6-0 on aggregate.

In the semi-finals, they faced one of the favourites in Bayern Munich, but a 2-1 win in Munich followed by a 2-2 draw at home saw them into the final, where they faced French side Marseille.

The game ended 0-0 after regulation time, but the Serbian side came out 5-3 victors in the penalty shoot-out to become the first and only Serbian European Cup winners to date.

Borussia Dortmund: 1997

Despite being reigning back-to-back Bundesliga champions, Dortmund was still an unexpected winner of the Champions League because of the teams they had to beat to become the winners.

They breezed past French side Auxerre 4-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, to then face Manchester United in the semi-finals where they were expected to fall victim to Sir Alex Ferguson's seriously talented United team.

However, Dortmund won 1-0 both home and away against a United side that included the likes of Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Paul Scholes, to then face reigning Champions League winners Juventus in the final, with their squad including Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Alessandro Del Piero.

They were again underdogs going into this game, but they asserted themselves early on the game, with Karl-Heinz Riedle scoring two goals within the first 35 minutes, Juventus then scored in the 65th minute to give them hope, but Dortmund regained their two-goal advantage just six minutes later, which then saw them through to win the club’s first and only Champions League trophy.

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