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Ranking the most unlikely Champions League winners: Chelsea, Liverpool make the list

Written by on May 31, 2024

Nobody expected Borussia Dortmund to make it to the Champions League final where they’ll square off against Real Madrid on Saturday. In a true David and Goliath matchup, the Black and Yellow would become one of the most unlikely winners of a Champions Leauge title ever if they are able to topple Real Madrid at Wembley Stadium in the biggest game of the year. 

Ahead of that final, lets take a look at some of the most unlikely teams to lift a title over the years:

5. Nottingham Forest 1978-79, 1979-80

We’re taking a time machine back to the European Cup days were Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest for promoted from the second division in 1976-77, won the first division in the following season before then winning the Europan Cup over Malmo. Only scoring one goal in that match in the first half, it was enough to see the Tricky Trees to victory. But they weren’t done there with three titles in a row, they followed it up with another as in the 1979-80 season, Forest were able to best Hamburg in the final by another 1-0 scoreline. While this was a respected team by the second title, coming right from the second division to this kind of glory has to place Forest on our list.

4. Liverpool 2004-05

Liverpool had to get past Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Chelsea to even make the final under Rafa Benitez against Milan. The journey to get there is one of the reasons that Liverpool have made this list but it’s also how the final itself went. Down 3-0 after the first half came to a close the Reds stormed back with goals from Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Vladimir Spicer. They would still need a penalty shootout win to secure the Champions League title but after storming back like that, all momentum was on their side. Qualifying for this Champions League after finishing fourth in the Premier League the season prior, that Liverpool side strength-wise, is around where Dortmund would be considered today.

3. PSV Eindhoven, 1987-88

Here comes another deep cut as Guus Hiddink oversaw one of the weirdest European Cup victories that we’ve ever seen. After the quarterfinals, PSV didn’t win another game advancing by away goals over both Bordeaux and Real Madrid. While that rule is now gone from the Champions League, the Dutch side used it to their advantage in order to avoid penalty shootouts but even when they needed to resort to that in the final against Benfica, it didn’t prove to be an issue as they won 6-5 in Stuttgart

2. Porto 2002-03

While it’s hard to determine which Jose Mourinho title should make the list, his first with Porto was a work of art. Coming in with an underdog side, Porto are one of the sides on this list who absolutely dominated their final. Facing Monaco in the final after getting past Manchester United, Olympic Lyon and Deportivo La Coruna on the way, it would turn into a Porto party. Winning 3-0, Poerto would announce themselves as one of the best teams in soccer while Mourinho also would announce himself as one of the best managers in all of soccer. 

1. Chelsea 2011-12

It’s another Premier League side on the list but for Chelsea, a team in shambles after moving on from Andre-Vilas Boas midseason to hire Roberto di Matteo, the Blues then went on an unreal run. Overturning a first leg deficit against Napoli in the knockout stage, Chelsea then went on to eke past Barcelona surviving the second leg with only 10 men. Chelsea then came up against Bayern Munich in the final and seemed left for dead after Thomas Muller scored in the 83rd minute but an equalizer by none other than Didier Drogba was able to force penalties before Chelsea won the shootout.

How to watch the Champions League final and odds

  • Date: Saturday, June 1 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: Wembley Stadium — London, England
  • TV: CBS  | Live stream: Paramount+
  • Odds: Borussia Dortmund +420; Draw +330; Real Madrid -165

Champions League final broadcast schedule

All times U.S./Eastern

The post Ranking the most unlikely Champions League winners: Chelsea, Liverpool make the list first appeared on CBS Sports.


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