Wembley Way ahead of the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Man Utd
Sunday, 20 May, 2012
Wembley Stadium is gearing up to host the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final.
As the dust settled on another thrilling UEFA Champions League Final, we could reflect on a monumental effort by Chelsea to lay to rest the ghost of 2008 and defeat Bayern Munich on penalties.
The south-west London club put aside their losses through injury and suspension and coped with an early onslaught from their German opponents and can now look forward to defending the trophy next season.
In 2013 Wembley Stadium will host its seventh Champions League Final (including its former guise of the European Cup) and the Blues will hope to be there once more. However, there will be three other English representatives (Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal) all hoping to be there as well, not to mention a host of European contenders.
Wembley Stadium is all too familiar at hosting the world’s best club teams. The first European Cup Final it hosted was way back in 1963 when AC Milan beat Benfica 2-1 and gave the Milanese their first tournament triumph and stop Benfica from landing their third in a row.
Five years later Benfica would lose again to a Manchester United side that would go down in history having rebuilt itself from the tragedy of Munich ten years previously. The names Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law will ever be synonymous with that victorious side of 1968.
Ajax would gain their first European Cup in 1971, in front of 90,000 fans at Wembley thanks to a hard fought victory over Greek side, Panathinaikos. This would spark a further two Final victories for the Johan Cruyff inspired Dutch side, a tally they have added to on one further occasion in 1995.
The year 1978 would see more English success with the dominant force of Liverpool beating Club Brugge by a solitary goal courtesy of Kenny Dalglish and thus giving the Reds back-to-back triumphs, following their success against Borussia Monchengladbach the previous year.
A further 14 years would elapse until the competition returned to Wembley Stadium and it signalled the last ever European Cup Final before the advent of the new Champions League format. A single Ronald Koeman strike was enough for Barca to defeat Sampdoria and would provide the Catalan club with their maiden success in the competition, yet Wembley would prove to be a happy hunting ground for them.
Barca would pass Manchester United’s total of three trophies with their fourth success in 2011. Despite a close first half the Spanish side’s class would tell in the second half as the English champions could not handle the brilliance of Lionel Messi and co., who led them to a 3-1 victory.
A number of clubs have enjoyed success at Wembley Stadium and will hope to replicate it again, yet there are many more that will be hoping to add to their honours list or write themselves into the history books anew.
So for now, congratulations to Chelsea, and let the countdown to Wembley 2013 begin…
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