With all roads leading out to Porto on Saturday night, this year’s Champions League run certainly proved to be one of the most unprecedented in European football.
With Chelsea and Manchester City playing out the second all-English final over the past three years, we have taken a look at five big stories from this year’s Champions League.
Chelsea upset the odds
While Chelsea might have found themselves in the midst of a struggle when Frank Lampard publicly left the club back in January, The Blues have enjoyed nothing short of a stunning European adventure under new boss Thomas Tuchel.
Bringing in the former PSG boss earlier in the year, the West London outfit managed to come past a tricky Champions League draw on route to lifting their fourth separate European crown during the Roman Abramovich era.
Landing themselves that 1-0 victory against Premier League rivals Manchester City in Porto on Saturday night and continuing their remarkable winning run against Guardiola’s side, Chelsea also ended both Real Madrid and Atletico’s European runs on route to lifting their first Champions League crown since 2012.
Manchester City fall short again
After landing themselves a convincing 4-1 aggregate romp against French giants PSG in the semi-finals, many across Europe tipped Manchester City as a standout pick to lift their first Champions League title in their first-ever European final.
However, with Pep Guardiola’s team selection raising plenty of eyebrows, the former Bayern Munich boss saw his side get hit with a deserved 1-0 loss against Chelsea out in Portugal on Saturday night, a result that now sees Guardiola’s wait for Champions League success only go on.
Coming under real scrutiny last year after shockingly crashing out of the tournament at the hands of French outfit Lyon, the Spaniard has now not tasted European success since his days with a star-studded Barcelona side way back in 2011 and questions will rightfully be asked after Saturday’s defeat in Porto.
Haaland’s European romp
Although Borussia Dortmund might have seen eventual finalists Manchester City end their Champions League ambitions back in April at the quarter-final stage, the German giants did have one attacking superstar who enjoyed another free-scoring romp in Europe’s premier tournament.
Only continuing to gain a string of plaudits from across the continent and firmly tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner down the line, Erling Haaland notched himself a hugely impressive 10 Champions League strikes this year and lifted the Golden Boot after surpassing Kylian Mbappe’s tally by two strikes.
Linked with a host of Europe’s elite in what could be a blockbuster summer transfer window for the Norwegian ace, the 20-year-old remarkably ended the 2020/21 tournament by averaging a goal just every 71 minutes and underlined his European pedigree.
Bayern fail to reclaim their crown
After Kingsley Coleman bagged a second-half winner for Bayern Munich against PSG out in Lisbon last year, the German champions opened up the 2020/21 campaign tipped by many across Europe as a landslide pick to make it back-to-back Champions League titles this season.
However, although The Bavarians might have opened their group adventure with a stunning 4-0 romp against Atletico Madrid back in October, Hans Flick’s side struggled to keep up that same momentum when they entered the later stages of the tournament.
Left devastated when it was confirmed that attacking MVP Robert Lewandowski suffered a huge injury blow heading into their meeting against last year’s finalists PSG back in April, Bayern couldn’t find a way to overcome their first-leg 3-2 defeat in the quarter-finals.
Barcelona still some way off
Enduring what was another hugely inconsistent campaign under Ronald Koeman this year, Barcelona’s Champions League departure back in February showed that they’re still some way off recapturing their status as a European powerhouse.
Limping their way into the knockout stage after a woeful 3-0 drumming at the hands of Italian outfit Juventus in Catalonia when signing off their group run, the one-time Southampton boss saw his side suffer a round of 16 nightmare.
Still showing the effects of that infamous 8-2 hammering against Bayern last year, Barcelona saw their 2020/21 European adventure come to an end thanks to a 5-2 aggregate defeat against PSG back in March.