They Go Way Back

By: Alfonso Duro

Four of the top European teams will meet in the semifinals of the Champions League, which means there is tons of history between them. With no clear dominant force, we thought it best to glance over the last few confrontations of Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona, as well as of Juventus and Real Madrid, and reminisce about the times when each of these giants topped one another. 

Spoiler alert: This didn't really help us figure out which two teams will get tickets to the Berlin final, but it sure was great to remember.


Picture yourself a  65-year-old coach managing Bayern Munich, the strongest team in Europe. Just months before the decisive part of the championship, your club announces the signing of the hippest (and arguably the best) coach in the business, Pep Guardiola. What are you to do? Well, winning every trophy in sight and destroy that same coach’s former unstoppable football-making machine. Heynckes said goodbye to professional soccer with a bang, and beat Barça by a cumulative 7-0 score en route to lifting the second Champions League of his career, and Bayern’s fifth title.

2008-2009: A BEAST IS BORN

It had been a long time coming, but the Barcelona-Bayern Munich match of the quarterfinals of the 2008-2009 Champions League may as well have been the confirmation that Lionel Messi was to become the best player of all time. His brace against the Bavarian squad brought forth a pounding (4-0) by the Culés, who were on their way to winning the top continental tournament for the fourth time in their history. Of course, Messi would win later that year the first of four consecutive Ballons D’Or.


The team with the most Champions League titles in history had to wait over three decades to clinch a seventh title—and then win four in following 17 years. But before tasting the glory in Amsterdam, Real Madrid had to face the toughest team in the land: Marcello Lippi’s Juventus. A squad with Zidane, Del Piero, Davids and Deschamps, would scare anybody, and Heynckes’ Real Madrid made it to that final on very shaky ground. The team had finished sixth in the league, the manager was clearly out of the club, and most of the players knew that it would be their last big game with the Merengues. Perhaps it was all of those factors that pushed Real Madrid to beat the Bianconeri when no one expected it. That relief of 32 years of pressure on the club’s shoulders must have surely felt great.


Since the 1998 final, Juventus was looking for an opportunity to crush Real Madrid. In a semifinal bout where Real Madrid was the clear favorite, the team managed by Lippi got their revenge by topping Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and Co., and keeping them away from what would have been a second consecutive Champions League final. That defeat was also the end of Del Bosque as Real Madrid's manager and of Fernando Hierro as team captain. The Galácticos era was over.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.