Winning the Champions League - It Takes Balls!

The biggest match of the season takes place in Cardiff, Wales on Saturday 3rd June as the Principality hosts the Final of the Champions League. Our weekly blog looks at some of the biggest moments in Champions League Final history and some of the great adidas footballs used in European football's showpiece match.


This year's final is the 25th since the famous European Cup went through a re-branding in 1992 to become the Champions League.  From Marseille winning the first Champions League in 1993, a point Glasgow Rangers supporters never like to remember, to Real Madrid collecting an 11th European Cup last year, there have been many memorable moments in the final such as Manchester United's last-gasp win over Bayern Munich in 1999, Louis van Gaal's young Ajax team toppling the giants of European football, AC Milan in 1995 and Barcelona claiming 4 titles between 2006 and 2015.

  [caption id="attachment_2553" align="alignright" width="300"] The first adidas Champions League Football, as used in the 2000/01 season which featured a 4th European Cup win for Bayern Munich[/caption]

Since the 2000/2001 season, adidas have been the supplier of the Champions League Finale football and have created some of the best designs ever.  The very first Champions League Finale ball featured light grey stars printed on the outer layer of the ball and this was the ball that saw Bayern Munich beat Valencia to lift the European Cup for a 4th time and their first in 25 years.


The next year (2001/02) bore witness to one of the greatest goals in Champions League final history.  German underdogs Bayer Leverkusen took on Real Madrid at Hampden Park in the 2002 final and it was here that Zinedine Zidane scored with an unbelievable volley using a Champions League Finale football.

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In one of the greatest comebacks in European Cup final history, a famous night in Istanbul in 2005 saw Liverpool come back from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties and claim a 5th European Cup.

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Not one, but two British sides were involved in another penalty shootout in the final of the Champions League in 2008.  Chelsea and Manchester United battled in the Moscow rain to a 1-1 draw before heading to penalty kicks.  Cristiano Ronaldo thought he'd blown his side's chance as he missed his penalty to leave Chelsea a kick away from a first European Cup.  Up stepped John Terry to slot home the winning spot kick, but the captain cruelly slipped and saw his penalty strike the outside of the post.  United would go on to win a 3rd European Cup as Edwin van der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka's penalty.

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For 2009/10, adidas redesigned the Finale football to incorporate an actual star-shape panel on the ball, as opposed to previous balls where the stars were printed onto the design of the existing ball.  This new addition to the ball's design breathed new life into it and showcased adidas as being a brand that creates.  The first season with this design of the Finale ball being used saw Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich in Madrid to win the European Cup for the first time since 1965.

adidas continued to come up with new graphics on the Champions League Finale footballs and for the 2013 edition, they produced a special ball to mark the 150th anniversary of the Football Association.  The ball featured the years that the European Cup final took place at Wembley (1963, 1968, 1971, 1978, 1992, 2011 and 2013) and was one of the most distinct versions of the Finale ball ever produced.

[caption id="attachment_2550" align="alignleft" width="300"] The 2013 Champions League Final took place at Wembley and this adidas Finale ball included all the years the final was played at the famous stadium.[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_2551" align="alignleft" width="300"] Champions League Finale ball in 2009/10 was the first to include star-shaped panels.  This version was used in the final which took place in Madrid where Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich.[/caption]                  


Chelsea finally lifted the Champions League in 2012 to put the memory of 2008 to rest as they beat Bayern Munich in their own stadium on penalties.  This match was famous for John Terry, suspended for the final, kitting up in his full Chelsea strip for the presentation, much to the amusement of the online world and the "meme" makers.

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2015's final pitted Barcelona against Juventus with both sides going for a treble that season.  The final, played in Berlin was locked at 1-1 until Luis Suárez put Barça back in the lead and Neymar, with the last kick of the game, sealed a 3-1 win for the Spanish stars and a 5th Champions League.

[caption id="attachment_2554" align="alignleft" width="300"] The ball to be used in the 2017 Champions League Final in Cardiff, which you can win by entering our competition below![/caption] [caption id="attachment_2549" align="alignleft" width="297"] The 2015 version of the Champions League Finale football for the game that was played in Berlin between Barcelona and Juventus, which the Spanish side won 3-1.[/caption]                                

Last season Real Madrid won a 2nd Champions League in 3 years by beating city rivals Atlético in the 2016 Final which took place in Milan.  Will Real's current team become a footballing dynasty with a victory over Juventus in Cardiff?  Cristiano Ronaldo will be the dangerman for Juventus defenders to worry about as he seeks a 4th European Cup and with 10 goals in this year's competition so far, he will be favourite to bag the first goal.

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But who will win the big game?  You can hazard a guess at what you think the score will be in our Facebook competition (closes Saturday 3rd June at 7.45pm) and if you are one of the lucky participants to predict the correct score, you could be in with a chance of winning an official Champions League Finale Cardiff Match Ball (worth £120.99) courtesy of our friends at adidas.