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15 Greatest Champions League Teams of All Time

The UEFA Champions League is the biggest and most watched club soccer competition in the world. The tournament is held annually and involved teams from across Europe competing against one another in a series of rounds to determine who is the best team on the continent. 

There have been many great teams that have graced this historic competition and those that have won it are renowned as some of the greatest on the planet.

You will likely be familiar with many of the teams featured on this list of the 15 greatest UEFA Champions League teams of all time.

15. Red Star Belgrade

  • Champions League Titles: 1

The greatest team in the history of Serbian Soccer takes the 15th spot on our list, Red Star Belgrade (also known as Crvena Zvezda) have one title to their name. The Serbian club first won the competition in 1991 when they defeated French side Marseille on penalties in the final.

Red Star has enjoyed less success in recent years, often failing to qualify for the final competition.

Despite this, their atmosphere remains one of the most famous and hostile in the whole of Europe, with anyone who comes to Belgrade will be shaken to the core when they step foot on the field. 

Red Star Belgrade is competing in the UEFA Europa League this season. 

14. Borussia Dortmund

  • Champions League Titles: 1

A team that many would think should be higher on this list, the German giants Borussia Dortmund have just one UEFA Champions League triumph to their name. This success came in a period of real dominance for the black and yellows, with them beating a classy Juventus side in the final 3-1.

This was a famous squad for Dortmund, with stars such as Lars Ricken, Karl-Heinz Riedle, and Andreas Möller all playing in the final against a Juventus team containing Zinedine Zidane and other iconic players. 

Dortmund still frequently appear in the latter stages of the competition, with them last reaching the final in 2013.

This time they faced defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Bayern Munich, with not even Robert Lewandowski being enough to bring the trophy back to Signal Iduna Park again. 

13. SL Benfica

  • Champions League Titles: 2

The first team on our list that has won the competition on more than one occasion, Portuguese side Benfica take 13th place today. The club experienced a period of immense success and almost total domination of European Soccer during the early 1960s thanks to a man by the name of Eusebio. 

One of the greatest forwards in history, the Portuguese legend led Benfica to two European Cup wins in 1961 and 1962 (defending the trophy is in itself a rare achievement).

The first time around, Benfica defeated Barcelona 3-2, and the following year they took on the great  Real Madrid and emerged 5-3 victors that day. 

The club has not enjoyed this level of success since though. 

12. Nottingham Forest

  • Champions League Titles: 2

It may have happened some time ago now, but Nottingham Forest is still one of the best UEFA Champions League (European Cup) sides to have come out of England.

Forest won two titles under the guidance of their legendary manager Brian Clough in the late 1970s but has fallen away from the competition since. 

The first of Forest’s titles came in 1979, with the red defeating Swedish team Malmo 1-0 in the final. The next year, they were back for more and like Benfica, this all-conquering side defended the trophy by beating Hamburg 1-0 in the 1980 final. 

Nottingham Forest has spent much of their recent history in the EFL Championship and has therefore not competed in the UEFA Champions League for many years. 

11. FC Porto

  • Champions League Titles: 2

The other of the two great Portuguese Soccer teams, Porto has also won the UEFA Champions League on two occasions but has done so in separate eras. The first of Porto’s titles came in the 1986/87 season with them defeating Bayern Munich 2-1 in the final, it is the second of their titles that is more famous though. 

An underdog story with iconic manager Jose Mourinho at the forefront, Porto defied the odds to reach the UEFA Champions League final in the 2003/04 season and would go on to win the game at a canter by defeating Monaco 3-0. 

This would be the start of a love affair with the competition for Mourinho who has won a number of European trophies since, for Porto, their success has dried up, but they still appear regularly in the early phases of the competition.  

10. Juventus FC

  • Champions League Titles: 2

Yet another club that one would expect to be higher in this list, the 10th place goes to Italian super club Juventus. The Bianconeri have just two EFA Champions League trophies in their cabinets, with them being won in 1985 and 1996 respectively. 

The first of these titles was taken with a 1-0 win over Liverpool in 1985 and the second saw Juventus overcome an immensely strong Ajax team on penalties in 1996. This 90’s era could have seen much more success for the club, with Italian Soccer being at its pinnacle. 

In more recent times, Juventus have always found themselves in the latter phases of the competition however, they just cannot get over the line and take that third title that they want so much. 

9. Chelsea FC

  • Champions League Titles: 2

Before the turn of the century, London-based club Chelsea had little to no experience in European competition but when they were bought out by wealthy oligarch Roman Abramovich things changed massively. 

The club started to perform domestically and soon found themselves competing against Europe’s best, with the first reaching the final in 2008 where they lost to Manchester United in Moscow.

2012 saw things change though, when a Didier Drogba led side overcame Bayern Munich on penalties to win the trophy for the first time. 

An unexpected second triumph came in 2021, when Chelsea managed to defeat fellow English club Manchester City 1-0 to take their second UEFA Champions League title.

Given Manchester City’s dominance in England over recent years, this win goes to show that European experience can really help in a final. 

8. Inter Milan

  • Champions League Titles: 3

The second Italian club on our list, Inter Milan are often seen as the second team in Milan however they have three UEFA Champions League wins to their name and take 8th today. 

Inter first won the competition in 1964, when they defeated Real Madrid 3-1 in the final. This proved to be a period of sustained success for Inter as they successfully defended the title the following year, beating a Eusebio led Benfica to the trophy in 1965. 

It took a while for Inter to reach the top again, but they eventually returned in 2009/10. Led by Jose Mourinho, (who wanted to add to his success with Porto) the club bested Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final to lift the trophy for the third time and truly write themselves in the history books. 

7. Manchester United

  • Champions League Titles: 3

The penultimate English team to feature on this list, Manchester United also has three UEFA Champions League titles. The Red Devils were the first English team to win the competition in 1968, them overcoming the Munich air disaster that occurred a few years prior. 

Fast forward to the 1999 final, and arguably the most iconic moment in the history of the competition. United was level with Bayern Munich in the last minute of the game before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poked home to win the title for his team. 

2008 saw the Red Devils win their third title, defeating Chelsea on penalties in the Moscow rain with heroes such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Edwin van Der Sar all starring. 

6. AFC Ajax

  • Champions League Titles: 4

For a team from such a small country, Dutch side Ajax has enjoyed plenty of success in the UEFA Champions League and is currently the only team to have four titles to its name.

Ajax first took the trophy home with them in 1971,72, and 73 (a triple defense of the competition that is still seen as one of the greatest achievements in soccer history) before a rather stagnant period left them waiting until 1995 to return to the pinnacle. 

This 1990s era was one of total dominance domestically and could have easily been even more successful in Europe had they not narrowly missed out in other seasons.

Ajax has fallen away in recent years though, as richer clubs poach their homegrown talent before they get the chance to shine for the Dutch team. 

5. FC Barcelona 

  • Champions League Titles: 5

Five-time winners Barcelona take 5th spot and where do we start with a team this iconic? The Catalan club are one of the faces of European Soccer and as such have a pedigree to match. 

The five titles are all impressive triumphs, but I want to focus on the 2008/09 winning side that defeated previous winners Manchester United 2-0 in Rome.

This team is arguably the greatest to have ever graced a soccer field, with them being led by legends such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta alongside many other greats. 

In his prime, Messi was nigh on unstoppable and just went to show how good Barcelona can be when it all comes together for them. 

4. Bayern Munich

  • Champions League Titles: 6

The greatest German club in the history of the country, Bavarian club Bayern Munich are the 4th placed team on our list. Bayern has won the UEFA Champions League on 6 different occasions and are sure to add to these wins in the future. 

The club first won the competition in the 1973/74 season, when legendary striker Gerd Muller led them to a 4-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

Bayern would go on to match the achievement of Ajax by winning the competition three times in a row in the mid-70’ before once again taking the trophy in 2001, 2013, and 2020. 

This 2020 triumph came in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic, with Bayern winning a behind-closed-doors final against PSG 1-0 after an intense ‘mini-tournament’ format was adopted to bring the competition to a close. 

3. Liverpool FC

  • Champions League Titles: 6

As we reach the podium, it is the final English team on our list that take 3rd. Liverpool is incredibly proud of their European success, with some fans regarding this success as more important that anything they can achieve domestically (I’m inclined to agree with them). 

The Reds have 6 UEFA Champions League wins to their name, with this being double the amount that any other English club can boast. Liverpool won the competition in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, and 2019. 

The 2004/05 final is their finest hour though, with Liverpool overcoming a 3-0 deficit to beat AC Milan on penalties to lift the trophy in Istanbul. This match is still regarded as the greatest in the history of the club and one of the best finals ever. 

2. AC Milan

  • Champions League Titles: 7

It may have been a relatively unsuccessful period for the Rossoneri, but AC Milan are still undeniably one of the greatest UEFA Champions League teams ever due to their impressive haul of 7 titles. 

Milan has always prided themselves on their European stature and has the stats to back up the claims of being the biggest club in Italy. The team won the competition in 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003 and 2007. 

This 2007 victory is widely seen as revenge for the defeat that club suffered at the hands of Liverpool in Istanbul just two years earlier.

A team that was spearheaded by Italian legend Filippo Inzaghi won the game 2-1, with their iconic striker bagging both of the Milan goals.  

1. Real Madrid

  • Champions League Titles: 14

All we need to say here is that Real Madrid has won the UEFA Champions League a staggering 14 times and is therefore the greatest team to have ever played in the competition. 

I won’t list all of the years that Los Blancos have lifted the trophy as there are simply too many, but their most recent triumph came in the 2021/22 final.

In the final against Liverpool, a ‘Ronaldo-less’ Real Madrid proved that they did not need the Portuguese hero to win the competition and came out 1-0 winners against an incredibly strong Liverpool side.