The UEFA Champions League always signal the thrilling climax to a season. After a long and sometimes difficult campaign which might involve a push for the top four or a relegation battle, the Champions League is a one off. Considered to be one of the greatest sporting spectacles on the planet, it pits the creme de la creme of Europe's finest.
This year is no different as the might of Spanish giants Barcelona are pitted against the Italian stalwarts of Juventus. The Old Lady has certainly sung again as Juventus came through a tricky tie against 2014 holders Real Madrid to reach the final. As far as Barcelona were concerned, their demolition job of former coach Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich ensures they start as favourites. Berlin is the host city for the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final where old clashes are renewed once again. This includes the likes of Luis Suarez who will come up against at least one former foe. Firstly, he will be coming up against Patrice Evra who Suarez was embroiled in a controversial race row with. This took place while the Frenchman was at Manchester United. This led to a an even more dramatic episode when Suarez playing for Liverpool at the time refused to shake Evra's hand in the team lineup when the Merseysiders visited Old Trafford.
Aside from the potential grudge matches, the Champions League brings together the finest players in Europe to deliver a feast of football. All this is played for the ultimate prize in the most highly anticipated one off tie where simply anything can happen. Down the footballing archives, we have also been witness to a number of different exciting Champions League games. From the thrilling two goals in two minutes by Manchester United that defeated Bayern Munich to Didier Drogba's penalty winning kick for Chelsea, there have also been some great players that have never picked up the trophy.
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15 Tony Adams
One of Arsenal's greatest ever defenders, Tony Adams did not come half way close to capturing the Champions League. The ex Gunner was a key member of title winning sides under both George Graham as well as current boss Arsene Wenger. In a glittering career which spanned more than two decades, Adams managed to win a glut of major cups. This featured league titles on four different occasions, several FA Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup and two League Cups. Although his cabinet is bulging he never obtained the major one before retiring.
14 Francesco Totti
Deemed an idol by his hordes of loyal fans at Roma, Francesco Totti is certainly up there when it comes to greatest players never to have won the Champions League. Now in the autumn of his footballing career, Totti is nearly pushing 40 years of age. Yet this has not detracted from the fact that he can still turn in a variety of impressive performances. He was once a Ballon D’or nominee and has picked up a Scudetto title in his time at the Stadio Olympic but the Champions League has evaded Totti.
13 Robert Pires
During his playing days, French international Robert Pires won the lot. He was part of the superb French team during the late 1990s which went on to win both the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and Euros in 2000. Another former Arsenal legend, Pires also never came close to lifting the prize trophy in the sky. Pires was an instrumental part of the Invincibles at Arsenal which went on an unbeaten run for the entire 2003/04 season. However, he did manage to appear in the 2006 final when Arsenal faced Barcelona. Yet it all went pear shaped for the midfielder as he had to come off after just 12 minutes. This was as a result of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann being sent off for a professional foul on Barca forward Samuel Eto'o.
12 Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Dutch striking sensation Ruud Van Nistelrooy is another name among the footballing greats. The Dutch international really came to prominence after his big multi-million dollar move to Manchester United. He remains one of the highest scorers in the history of the Champions League even though he has hung up his booths. Notching up more than 55 goals is no mean and whilst at the time for United, he scored a record equalling 14 goals in just one Champions League campaign. Despite achieving league titles in Spain not to mention in England, Van Nistelrooy only reached the semi-finals of the competition.
11 Fabio Cannavaro
Deemed one of the finest Italian defenders of all time, Fabio Cannavaro is another surprising entry on the list. Having won the Ballon d'Or in 2006 for a string of performances, he picked up the FIFA World Cup in the same year. While that year was a banner year for Cannavaro, the Champions League eluded his array of medals. It just goes to show that playing for the likes of Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid is still not enough.
10 Lothar Matthaus
A footballing legend in Germany and around the world, Lothar Matthaus came agonisingly close to winning the Champions League. However, as they say, a miss is as good as a mile. This came when Matthaus was playing for Bayern Munich in the 1999 final against Manchester United. With Matthaus all but ready to celebrate and deep into stoppage time the match was heading for a 1-0 Bayern win. That is before Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer popped up to steal the Champions League crown away from the Bavarian outfit.
9 Patrick Vieira
French international Patrick Vieira was known for his no nonsense tackling and physical stature. The Arsenal player has never been replaced since and lent a great amount of steel to the Gunners midfield under Arsene Wenger. This has sadly been lacking from their side for some time. Vieira had a fierce rivalry with Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane which usually spiralled out of control on and off the pitch. The French World Cup winner and Euro victor did not manage to win the Champions League during his successful career.
8 Michael Ballack
Another German icon finds himself in the top ten and this time it is none other than Michael Ballack. The German international had an impressive playing career playing for the likes of Bayern Munich as well as Chelsea. Yet, Ballack was always to be the bridesmaid on two separate occasions with two different sides. The first was when he was playing for Bayer Leverkusen in 2002. Ballack lost out to a wonderful Zinedine Zidane volley at Hamden Park, whilst he also lost with Chelsea in 2008 to Manchester United on penalties.
7 Pavel Nedved
Although his beloved Juventus has reached the 2015 UEFA Champions League final in Berlin, Pavel Nedved is another surprising player. Arguably one of the most skillful and creative players of his time, the former Czech Republic international never got a sniff of the prestigious title. His incredible touch coupled with his graceful play ensured he was a fan favourite and highly sought after by many clubs. The closest Nedved came was in 2003 (the year he won the Ballon d'Or) when Juve made it to the final, but lost in penalty kicks to Serie A rivals, AC Milan. Nedved was forced to sit out the final due to yellow cards he had accumulated in that tournament. One could only wonder if Nedved would have been the difference in a scoreless 120 minutes.
6 Roberto Baggio
While missing a penalty in the 1994 World Cup for Italy against Brazil was Baggio's most agonising career moment, almost equally as crushing is that Roberto Baggio never won the coveted Champions League trophy. Dazzling as a player for Juventus and for his national side, Baggio's cabinet is simply bulging with an array of medals. This includes two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia not to mention a UEFA Cup. All in all, Baggio somehow only managed to appear less than a dozen times in the Champions League.
5 Lilian Thuram
Formerly playing for the now defunct Parma, Lilian Thuram is another Frenchman who has won the lot as a player. Playing for Juventus in the back four was a great feat on its own but for Thuram he also went on to win the World Cup and European Championships. In total, Thuram amassed an incredible 148 caps for Les Bleus. He was also responsible for two of the goals which sent France through to the final on home soil. Thuram came closest at the 2003 CL Final, along with his teammate earlier on this list, Nedved.
Known as The Phenomenon’, Ronaldo was deadly with a football. One of the finest strikers of our time, Ronaldo did not pick up the Champions League despite a stellar career. His prowess on the ball not to mention pace was second to none and he appeared in a wide variety of countries for PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and the Italian giants AC Milan.
3 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
They call him Zlatan but the giant Swede has still not hung a Champions League winners medal around his neck. Ibrahimovic has had an impressive career so far playing for some of the greatest names in the business. This features Barcelona as well as AC Milan and up to the present day for Paris Saint Germain. Yet the trophy remains elusive for Ibrahimovic whose PSG club were convincingly beaten by Barcelona in the 2015 quarter finals. Painfully for Ibra, he left Inter right before the very season they won the Champions League, and a Treble to boot.
2 Gianluigi Buffon
The iconic Juventus shot stopper has had a long career for Juve with a wealth of Serie A medals and a World Cup back in 2006. The closest that he has come to date was in the 2003 final with Juve losing on penalties. Buffon was able to stop a couple of Milan shots, but a goal by Andriy Shevchenko crushed Buffon and Juve's hopes. His second crack at the CL final wasn't successful either, as Juve lost to Barcelona 3-1 in this year's final.
1 Diego Maradona
Without question, this little man gets the nod, being widely regarded as at least one of thee top three greatest players of all time, arguably the best. Nevertheless, it turns out that Diego Maradona did not win the Champions League either. The former Napoli player only managed to play in a couple of games and eventually went out at the first and second round stages. It is really hard to believe that Maradona was unable to achieve this trophy despite all of his incredible talents.
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