The continental tournaments were meant for teams to jostle to be the best in the continent. Usually, they end with two teams from different countries battling it out in the final game, but sometimes they end with two sides from the same nation (same city, even) in the showdown.
Just like this season, which is both a form of ‘The English are coming’, and a cruel Brexit joke, with English teams making up both the UEFA Europa League and Champions League finals.
So, in anticipation of both games, here’s since six same-country European finals from the past Borussia Monchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt (UEFA Cup – 1980)
It was an all-German affair in the 1980 UEFA Cup showpiece, with Monchengladbach and Frankfurt squaring up in a two-legged affair. The first leg, Bokelbergstadion, saw Gladbach take a 3-2 lead to Frankfurt, as a Christian Kulik brace, including an 88th-minute winner, was enough for Jupp Heynckes’ side.
Well, not quite, actually. The second leg was still stuck without a goal when Frankfurt threw on Fred Schaub with 13 minutes left. Four minutes later, Schaub bagged the winning goal, both on the night and in the tie. The away goals rule crowned Frankfurt champions.
Internazionale v Roma (UEFA Cup – 1991)
Another UEFA Cup final, another two-legged affair. This time it was an Italian job, as Inter and Roma went head-to-head. Lothar Matthaus, who was part of the Gladbach side that lost to Frankfurt 11 years earlier, gave Inter the lead in the first leg at the San Siro with a penalty, before Nicola Berti added a second, and gave Giovanni Trapattoni’s team a healthy lead going to Rome.
It was just about good enough, as Roma could only halve that deficit, Ruggerio Rizzitelli’s goal eight minutes from time proved academic in the end. A 2-1 aggregate win for the Nerazzurri, and UEFA Cup success for Matthaus.
Sevilla v Espanyol (UEFA Cup – 2007)
Another UEFA Cup showdown, this competition seems to have plenty same-nation affairs. This time it was a one-legged affair, as Sevilla and Espanyol met in Glasgow. Holders after winning the previous final against Middlesbrough, Sevilla took the lead here after 18 minutes through Adriano. But it didn’t last long, 10 minutes later a deflected Albert Riera restored parity for Ernesto Valverde’s Espanyol.
Things took a bad turn for Espanyol when Moises Hurtado was sent off 13 minutes after halftime, but the Catalans held on for the entirety of the second period. Then Sevilla retook the lead through Freddy Kanoute on the cusp of halftime in extra time and it seemed over; until Jonatas hauled the ten men level with five minutes to go, to ensure penalties.
In the shootout though, Jonatas wasn’t so successful, as he was one of the Espanyol players who missed, alongside Luis Garcia and Marc Torrejon for a painful loss. Juande Ramos and Sevilla were champions again.
Manchester United v Chelsea (Champions League – 2008) One of the most epic finals of all-time. Manchester United and Chelsea had just tussled for supremacy in the Premier League (which United came on top), and then met in Moscow. Cristiano Ronaldo headed the Red Devils ahead in the first half, before Frank Lampard levelled on the stroke of halftime.
Chelsea hit the post and bar afterwards, from Lampard, as well as Didier Drogba, who would get sent off in extra-time, as the game went to a shootout. All seemed lost for United when Ronaldo failed from 12 yards, and John Terry had the chance to hand Chelsea the cup. Both the skipper slipped and missed, and three penalties later, Nicolas Anelka also failed for Chelsea, handing United the title.
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund (Champions League – 2013)
It was a German invasion in London in 2013, as Bayern Munich and Dortmund met at Wembley, after respectively vanquishing Barcelona and Real Madrid. Bayern had heartbreakingly lost the previous final on home soil, while Dortmund were in their first final in 16 years. An entertaining final was somehow goalless at halftime, but Mario Mandzukic gave Bayern the lead after the break.
Ilkay Gundogan restored parity with a penalty a while after, and the game looked to be heading for 30 extra minutes. But up stepped Arjen Robben, so often the villain in finals, and the Dutchman bagged a stoppage-time winner for Die Roten, to avenge the memories of the previous year.
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid (Champions League – 2014), For Real Madrid, La Decima was an obsession.
The Spanish club had changed managers 11 times since they lost won the Champions League, their ninth in 2002, and they met city rivals Atletico Madrid in their first final in 12 years. Atletico, recently crowned champions of Spain then, took the lead through Diego Godin, and it looked like they would hold on for the win.
But a 93rd-minute header from Sergio Ramos broke Atleti hearts, before Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo finished them off in extra time. The obsession was realised. After 12 years of hurt, it was time for La Decima at last.