9:45 pm Saturday, May 30th. This should have been the moment we knew our 2020 Champions League winners and for all the months of gruelling midweek games and two-legged knockout affairs under the lights - for one team this was when they would clinch such a prestigious title that is globally recognised in the world of football. How times have changed.
Instead of getting bogged down and wondering what might have been, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at 5 of my personal favourite Champions League games - the question is do you agree?
Only one way to find out…
Ajax 2-3 Tottenham (2018/19)
A night Spurs fans will never forget. There is no doubt the odds were stacked against this Tottenham side in Amsterdam when Hakim Ziyech made it 2-0 on the night but who better to etch himself into Tottenham folklore than Lucas Moura - a man who has seemingly always been in the shadow of Harry Kane during his time at the North London club.
No matter what your allegiances are, or even if you’re a Gunner, this was a truly special night remembered by all football fans. The outpouring of emotion from Mauricio Pochettino at full-time, a man still greatly adored by the Tottenham faithful, reinforced just how massive an achievement this was as Spurs reached the Champions League final for the first time in their history.
Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (2016/17)
After a 4-0 thumping from the Parisians in the first leg; Barcelona had a huge mountain to climb there was no doubting that. What an incredible European night, with the Camp Nou rocking throughout, the game ebbed and flowed but the finish was something truly remarkable. That nonchalant dink from Sergi Roberto was one never to be forgotten and one ingrained into the minds of every football fan.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique couldn’t control his emotions come full-time exclaiming in his post-match interview that football “is a sport for crazy people''.
Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1998/99)
“Solskjaer's won it”. The famous words from Clive Tyldesley resonate with all. Like the ‘Aguero’ moment of City’s Premier League triumph, it was almost like time stood still, a phase of play, a sharp intake of breath, that made this night so iconic.
Ferguson’s men looked down and out going into added time following Mario Basler’s sixth-minute strike. What optimised that year for me was the die-hard spirit of that United team who let’s not forget produced similar heroics in Turin in their second leg semi-final against Juventus.
They just wouldn’t back down. Looking back at Peter Schmeichel interview’s talking about the game he often points to the numerous missed chances Bayern had, hitting the post several times in the second half. It just was United’s year.
Their year to do the unthinkable and be the first English side ever to clinch the domestic treble.
Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea (2011/12)
Fernando Torres running clean-through against Victor Valdes. Who can forget? This was a huge night for the blue side of London and a chance to put the misery of Moscow 2008 behind them. After scoring two goals at the Nou Camp no one can really argue that it was a fully deserved result for Di Matteo’s side.
Chelsea only had 28% possession to their name but this was a gutsy, toothless, and resilient display against arguably the greatest side in Europe at the time. To produce a workmanlike performance like that on one of football’s biggest stages and with 10 men for the large majority of the game, the Blues deserve the utmost respect.
Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (2018/19)
This was perhaps the worst night of my life to date watching football. For me as a United fan especially and was an outcome that nobody expected, not even the most naive Liverpool fans, it was just horrid.
However, what can’t be taken away is the magnitude of Liverpool’s result that night. Fast flowing, counter-attacking football has been so effective for Klopp’s men that most opposition just eventually succumb to the threats the Reds pose - that’s what Barcelona did right from the off that night. Whether that's Mane, Salah, Firmino, Wijnaldum, Henderson or even Divock Origi; even with a 4-0 deficit to overturn if any team could have achieved such a feat that night, it was Liverpool under the lights at the European sanctuary that is Anfield.
Who can forget Trent Alexander Arnold’s corner, it was mastery from the youngster and optimised the die-hard spirit of this Liverpool side.
The Champions League is the pinnacle of club football globally, many would agree with that I’m sure. European nights under the lights, there’s just something so nostalgic about them, you remember them for eternity regardless of who you support, they're special occasions.
Finally, there are a number of matches which haven’t been included in my top five list but do deserve an honourable mention.
Celtic 2-1 Barcelona (2012/13 Group Stage)
Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (2014 Champions League Final)
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Malaga (2013 quarter-final second leg)
Juventus 2-3 Manchester United (1999 semi-final second leg)
AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (2005 Champions League Final)
This article was written exclusively for golear.co.uk.