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UCL Final Host Fun Facts, London-Munich Consecutive Selection

UCL Final Host Fun Facts

The London-Munich consecutive selection as Champions League hosts has been one of the UCL fun facts you didn’t know or realise before.

The UEFA Champions League 2023/24 is on the verge of its end, with Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid as the finalists squaring off at Wembley Stadium, London, on June 1. That would be the date when Real Madrid tickets will be in huge demand, as they could lift the second trophy of the season after securing the La Liga title last weekend.

The Wembley final also marks the last edition of UCL in its old format. The new format, in which all contestants will no longer be seeded in groups but in one, just like in the domestic league, is set to begin next season. Each team will only encounter eight different teams instead of one another entirely, adopting the Swiss system originally for chess tournaments.

There is also one interesting fact about this year’s and next year’s final hosts. It marks the fourth unusual London-Munich consecutive selection. It remains a mystery why both cities have been frequently chosen in a row. It could be a pure coincidence, although it does not seem to be that way since coincidence does not happen repeatedly! It could be related to England and Germany’s football rivalry. Yet, none can be confirmed for the true reason.

Interestingly, their selections always lead to contrastive champions; the favourite thrives in London, while the unexpected shines in Munich. The Bavarian city has been strangely but discreetly known as the place for new champions, as every one of them magically snatched the title in Munich. One might argue that Manchester City did it last year in Istanbul instead of Munich. However, one should remember that the 2022/23 final was originally held at Bayern’s home base, should the pandemic not exist. Thus, there might have been a magical atmosphere left last year. It may sound ridiculous or superstitious, but it will be intriguing to see if such a trend continues.

Here are the odd facts about the previous results in the London-Munich UCL finals, which could be a reference for such an assumption.

1978 and 1979 Finals

This was the first coincidence between the two cities, though surely it did not look as such. Wembley Stadium had hosted two finals before the 1978 edition.

The finalists in 1978 were the same ones who squared off in the 1976 UEFA Cup final: Liverpool and Club Brugge. The Reds were the clear favourite, as they were the reigning champion. They had eased past Benfica and Jupp Heynckes’s Gladbach to reach the final. The Belgian side also managed to eliminate two elite teams, Atletico Madrid and Juventus, in the process. Ernst Happel’s men were aiming to avenge their loss two years before.

Unfortunately, their ambition did not materialise. The Reds had the home advantage and successfully optimised it, despite only snatching a narrow 1-0 win through Kenny Dalglish in the 64th minute. It was their second consecutive European Cup.

Meanwhile, in the following year, Liverpool surprisingly lost to league winner Nottingham Forest in the first round. Brian Clough’s men went on to win to advance to their first-ever European final, knocking out AEK Athens, Grasshopper, and FC Koln along the way.

Their opponent in the summit was also far beyond expectations: FC Malmo. The Swedish side saw off Monaco, Dynamo Kiev, Wisla Krakow, and Austria Vienna at the knockout stage. It was their maiden final and remains the only appearance by a Scandinavian club in the history of European Cup finals.

Thus, whoever lifted the trophy was not a favourite. It was the clash of two ‘dark horses’ of the dark horse. Nottingham eventually won the game with a single goal netted by Trevor Francis. It was the beginning of Brian Clough’s triumphant campaign on the continent. Such a result was dubbed the beginning of Munich magic at UCL.

1992 and 1993 Finals

In the 1990s, it happened again. This time, it did not involve a single English team at all. The 1992 European Cup was the last edition of the tournament before its rebranding to the UEFA Champions Cup.

The finalists of the 1992 Wembley final were Barcelona and Sampdoria. Their encounter was a repeat of the 1989 Winners Cup final. At that time, the Catalan side thumped Il Samp 2-0 in Bern.

Blaugrana was at the peak of their form with their star-studded squad. The likes of Andoni Zubizarreta, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, and last but not least, Pep Guardiola, were all key men on Johan Cruyff’s team. They were the favourites to lift their first-ever UCL title after the frequent failures at the summit before. They were leading the final group stage above Benfica, Sparta Prague, and Dynamo Kiev. At that time, the group stage was not a preliminary round but the final path to deciding the finalists.

Sampdoria was also one of the top teams in Serie A back then. Vujadin Boskov had the luxury of having high-profile names at his disposal, such as Gianluca Pagliuca, Gianluca Vialli, and Roberto Mancini. The Genoa-based side toppled Anderlecht, Red Star Belgrade, and Panathinaikos.

The match was a tight affair, as both had not been able to break the deadlock in 90 minutes. The game went on until extra time, and this time Barcelona found the back of the net after Ronald Koeman’s free-kick gave them the necessary goal.

In 1993, it was time for the underdog to shine. Olympique Marseille was able to reach their first-ever continental final after toppling Glasgow Rangers, Club Brugge, and CSKA Moscow in the final group stage. OM had several global stars in the squad, such as Rudi Voeller, Abedi Pele, and Alen Boksic, besides the French ones like Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, and Fabien Barthez.

Their opposition was Dream Team AC Milan. The Italians still had Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten playing alongside Franco Baresi, Alberto Donadoni, and Paolo Maldini. They easily crushed FC Porto, PSV Eindhoven, and IFK Göteborg.

The Munich final proved once again that lady luck was in favour of the non-favourite. OM, under Raymond Goethals, was able to pick up a 1-0 win with Basile Boli as the only scorer of the game.

2011 and 2012 Finals

Last but not least, the 2011 UCL final was solid proof that Wembley is meant for the favourites. In that edition, Barcelona encountered Manchester United at the summit. Pep Guardiola’s side was the favourite, with Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, and Andreas Iniesta in the squad. It was the pinnacle of the Tiki Taka era, too. So, no wonder that Blaugrana was more in favour of a victory despite facing off against the English champion.

The Red Devils were already on the decline after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Sir Alex Ferguson still had Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Michael Carrick in the squad. However, they remained doubtful about avenging their loss in their previous clash in the 2009 final.

Such did come to reality, as Barcelona was superior to United. They dismantled Wayne Rooney and Co. 3-1. It was their second victory at Wembley after 1992.

Meanwhile, the 2012 final left a heartache for Bayern fans as they were beaten at home against the Blues, which was guided by their interim manager, Roberto Di Matteo. Bayern was dominating the game but failed to clinch a win. They were even so unlucky that none of their attempts hit the target but one. Yet they conceded an equaliser in the last minute.

Once again, Munich has always been the site of the new champion. It becomes a constant reminder that nothing is impossible in football.

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