The composition of this year’s Champions League semi-finals features two teams that are unlikely to survive so long. One of the members of Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur is sure to appear at the tournament’s flagship event in Madrid in early June, as they meet in the last four.
Their European adventure continued as they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 overall and knocked out Manchester City in the quarterfinals in a thrilling encounter.
In honour of these two captivating journeys, here are the seven greatest black horses in the history of the Champions League.
In 1998, Dynamo Kiev was beaten 5-2 by Juve in the quarter-finals of the European elite competition, but he ensured that there was no such disappointment the following year. Attracted against the famous Real Madrid at the same stadium in 1999, they shocked the world of football with a 3-1 win over both matches.
It was the season in which “The Special One” won its noble title. Jose Mourinho guided the Porto outsiders to their second European trophy, comfortably defeating their fellow Monaco 3-0 winners in the final.
The Portuguese manager, idiosyncratic, was far from finished after the success he won in Porto in 2004. Six years later, he worked magically to bring a hat-trick to San Siro, where Inter won their first European Cup since 1965. Barcelona in the group stages that year, but shocked tournament favourites when they clashed in the last four.
APOEL Nicosia -2012
With less than 5,000 people attending their matches and a record-breaking 2 million euros in transfers, no one expected APOEL to stand out from the groups, let alone the quarter-finals. The Cypriots have torn the scenario, leading seven times the French champion in qualifying, Lyon, until penalties in the last 16.
It was a disastrous season at Stamford Bridge until early spring. At the beginning of March, Andre Villas-Boas had paid a high price for poor performances, including a 3-1 away defeat in Naples in the first qualifying phase. Roberto di Matteo came into play and reversed the return, beating Benfica in the last eight games.
Atletico Madrid -2014
Football can sometimes be so cruel. Atletico reached the final thanks to a series of exceptional team performances that ousted their prestigious opposition. Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea had all fallen in a camp that was driven by spirit, cohesion and organization.
The Roma were in the big names in European football last season and featured in two of the most exciting matches of the year. Edin Dzeko’s late strike in the quarter-final first leg against Barca seemed only a consolation.
Liverpool ended their race in the Champions League semi-finals, but only after another sublime match. The Reds won 7-6 in both games, with eight different players getting their names on the scoresheet.