When it comes to European Cups, nobody rivals Real Madrid, as the reigning Champions of Europe look forward to their chance at la Duodecima against Juventus, we look back to their eighth UEFA Champions League triumph from the year 2000.
After just escaping the second group phase on head-to-head record over third place Dynamo Kiev thanks to a 2-1 win in Ukraine, Madrid faced reigning European Champions Manchester United, edging them out in a 3-2 win at Old Trafford thanks to two goals in two minutes from Raul and an own goal from Roy Keane, even after a late flurry which saw goals from David Beckham and Paul Scholes make it close.
The return to form of summer signing flop Nicolas Anelka in the semi-finals saw them beat German giants Bayern Munich 3-2 on aggregate just months after suffering 4-2 and 4-1 defeats in the second group phase which threatened to knock them out.
Much like the 2014 and 2016 finals, it was an emerging Spanish side awaiting them in the final at the Stade de France but unlike the most recent finals which were edgy and went to extra time, this was one of the most comfortable finals, with Real winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman and Raul.
As the 2017 final comes into view and Madrid chase European crown number 12, who in today’s domineering side could join the beta-Galacticos of 2000?
GK: Iker Casillas
The youngest ever goalkeeper to start a UEFA Champions League Final in 2000, just four days after his 19th birthday, Casillas would become one of the top goalkeepers in the world, captaining Spain to the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and the UEFA European Championships in 2008 and 2012. Despite the form of current goalkeeper Keylor Navas, it’s hard to look past Casillas, who lost his place in 2001 only to redeem himself in the 2002 final with a match-winning substitutes performance when starter Cesar Sanchez went off injured.
Image Source: Twitter
RB: Dani Carvajal
There aren’t many better right-backs in the world right now than Dani Carvajal, although right-back in the 2000 final Michel Salgado is a fair shout as well, we’re going to give the edge to Carvajal who already has two European Cups under his belt.
Image Source: Twitter
CB: Sergio Ramos
Although still prone to being a hothead from time to time, there’s no doubting how crucial Ramos has been to Real Madrid in the last few years, scoring the equaliser in the 2014 final in the dying seconds and being synonymous with last minute goals to save Madrid. That’s not to say he’s not been crucial at the back as well, as the current Madrid captain he's lifted the Champions League and set a Spanish unbeaten run of 40 games over this season. Image Source: Twitter
CB: Fernando Hierro
One of the best centre-backs of his generation, Hierro played for Real Madrid over three different decades and made nearly 500 league matches for the club and like Ramos was known for his goalscoring exploits scoring 137 times in all for Madrid and 29 goals in 89 caps for Spain. In his fourteen years at the Santiago Bernabeu he won five La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions Leagues, something Ramos will be hoping to emulate against Juventus. Image Source: Twitter
LB: Roberto Carlos
Famed for his dead ball ability, Carlos has been one of the best ever foreign purchases in Real Madrid’s history and in his nine years in Spain was considered the best left back in the world. Brazilian compatriot Marcelo has been excellent in the run to this year’s final but it’s hard to look past the Bullet man who won three European Cups in his time at the Bernabeu. Source: Twitter
RM: Steve McManaman
Argubaly the most high profile Bosman transfer of all-time, highly-rated winger McManaman joined on a free from Liverpool in 1999 and of all the club’s English imports is arguably their favourite. Although a rare goalscorer and easily displaced by the likes of Luis Figo, the Englishman’s tireless work ethic and versatility endeared him to the Madrid faithful and his goal in the 2000 final was a stunning off the ground volley which is too easily forgotten.
Image Source: Twitter
CM: Fernando Redondo
The Argentine midfielder captained the 2000 final side in what was his best years at the club. The run to the final that year saw El Principle’s best form including an impressive piece of skill against Manchester United defender Henning Berg at Old Trafford. He was named 1999-2000 Champions League MVP before his controversial sale to AC Milan that saw protests outside the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Image Source: Twitter
CM: Luka Modric
The Croatian is the real string puller in the current Madrid line-up, linking the play between the back four and the dynamic attack with his awesome range of passing. Named in last year’s UEFA Team of the Season, Modric has only continued to orchestrate the play as their deep lying playmaker as he chases his third Champions League triumph. Image Source: Twitter
Although he’s been mostly a peripheral member of the Madrid team in some years, his form for them this season has rivalled Malaga form of 2013, scoring 11 goals in all this season and having serious calls to start over 2014 UEFA Champions League final match winner Gareth Bale in this year’s final. Image Source: Twitter
CF: Cristiano Ronaldo
Not a lot needs to be explained about this one, all-time Real Madrid and UEFA Champions League leading goalscorer, Ronaldo is certainly first name on the team sheet. His form has continued even as his career should be winding down as he has hit consecutive Champions League hat-tricks in the knockout stages against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. Image Source: Twitter
In his fifteen years with Madrid, Raul was the homegrown Galactico and is arguably the best player Spain had ever produced pre-UEFA Euro 2008. The top scorer in the 1999-2000 UEFA Champions League with 10 goals, he also scored the third and final goal with a stunning counter-attack in Paris. Image Source: Twitter
A couple great players miss out, there’s no room for once world record transfer Gareth Bale, nor Marcelo who’s been playing excellently on the run to this year’s final, nor the scorer of the opening goal in the 2000 final Fernando Morientes.