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The 9 Biggest Margins in Champions League Finals (Part I)

Ferenc Puskas 1960 CL final Real Madrid Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3

Though that seems unlikely according to online sportsbooks, some pundits and fans fancy a big Barcelona win against Juventus.

This year’s final between Barcelona and Juventus is expected to be an especially tight game, however some of the finals that also looked like to be even contests in advance, turned out to be big hammerings eventually.


• Puskas scored four against Frankfurt
• Bayern won in the replay
• Milan crushed anybody

It happened in nine Champions League or European Cup finals that the winner were three or more goals better than the loser, while four times, astonishing those who bet on sports in the UK, there were four goals between the two teams. In this piece we will discuss the latter cases, starting with the game that brought the most goals and the most spectators in a European Cup final ever.

Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3, 1960

Puskas Real Madrid Eintracht Frankfurt 1960
127,621 spectators squeezed themselves into the Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow to see the greatest show ever that was staged in a European Cup final. DFB, the German association previously banned German teams from participating in any match featuring Ferenc Puskas, as the world class Hungarian forward accused West German players of taking drugs before the 1954 World Cup final. Luckily, Puskas wrote an apology to the German FA, and the match took place.

Frankfurt took the lead in the 18th minute with a goal from Richard Kress, however the Argentine born Spanish superstar, Alfredo di Stefano scored twice before half-time and Puskas also added one to put Madrid two ahead. Then, in the second half the Magic Magyar scored three more to settle the game and to become the only man to date who bagged four goals in a European Cup or Champions League final. Sandwiched between two goals from Erwin Stein, Di Stefano hit one more, making it three for himself and seven for Madrid, completing the scoreline of the best European Cup final of the 20th century. This was the Blancos’ fifth success in a row.

Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid 4-0, 1974

Gerd Muller 1974 Champions Cup
Bayern and Atletico managed to took the European Cup final to replay, registering the tightest and the most one-sided final at the same time. The first match, played in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, went to overtime after remaining goalless for 90 minutes. It looked like Atletico can grab their first ever European Cup with a goal from club legend Luis Aragones, however Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck equalized in the 120th minute forcing a replay.

This was the only final in the history of the competition to be replayed, as penalty shoot-outs were already in use, however at those stages when a rematch was possible to set up, the UEFA preferred that solution. The replay two days later was also staged in Heysel, and Bayern won it comfortably with braces from Uli Hoeness and Gerd Muller, to start a period with three European titles in a row for Munich.

AC Milan v Steaua Bucuresti 4-0, 1989

van Basten 1989 Milan Steaua
The first final of Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan ended in a demonstration of supremacy against a Steaua Bucuresti side that featured Gheorghe Hagi, Marius Lacatus and Victor Piturca, having won the European Cup already three years earlier. The Romanians weren’t minors in the competition at all in those times, however Milan played in a revolutionary way of total football controlling both the ball and space through different patterns off pressing play.

They destroyed Real Madrid 5-0 in San Siro in the second leg of the semis, so for today’s mobile betting audience it is not a surprise that they did something similar to Steaua as well in the Camp Nou. Beside their tactical discipline Milan also had skillful and intelligent players, most notably the Dutch trio of Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten. They were 3-0 up at half time after a brace from Gullit and a goal from Van Basten, and when the latter found Silviu Lung’s net for the second time in the 47th minute, everyone knew this was over.

AC Milan v Barcelona 4-0, 1994

Milan Barcelona 4-0 1994
For that campaign of course, as it was only the start for Milan, capturing three titles in six years. The last of those came after a similarly dominant performance to the one they displayed against Steaua five years earlier. However this time European dream team, Johann Cruyff’s Barcelona with Romario, Hristo Stoichkov, Jose Mari Bakero, Pep Guardiola and Ronald Koeman in their ranks, were on the losing end in Athens.

Though the Dutch and Arrigo Sacchi’s fluid attacking football were nowhere that time, the far more defensive side commanded by Fabio Capello went against the odds to crush the marvelous favourites, Barcelona. Though the main strength of that Milan side was the same back four of Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini as Sacchi employed, that final was about brilliant attacking football. Daniele Massaro scored a brace in the first half, man of the match Dejan Savicevic put one behind Andoni Zubizarreta right after half time with Marcelo Desailly to complete the humiliating scoreline.

The match was one of the best Champions League finals ever, and brought the biggest margin in a title decider to date. The brilliant Barcelona side full of geniuses was destroyed by the smart and disciplined Italians, who were able to deploy a creative genius by naming Savicevic to the starting line-up. A similar scenario is hard to imagine this year according to online sportsbooks in the EU, though it was all the same 21 years ago, when Milan were the underdogs.

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