Champions League 2023/24: How do teams fare in ‘home’ finals?

 | February 16 | 

5 mins read

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With Manchester City the outright favourites for Champions League glory this term, and Arsenal also looking strong, there’s a good chance that this season’s final at Wembley will contain at least one English side. Although you’d initially think home advantage would be key for European success, a final on home soil isn’t as common as you might imagine, and it certainly doesn’t equal guaranteed glory. 

As we look ahead to Europe’s showpiece event, scheduled for Saturday, June 1, we’ve taken a flick through the history books to see how other teams have fared in finals in their own country. 

UEFA Champions League Odds 2023/24

Every European Cup final featuring a team from the host nation

Season Winners Score Runners-up Host City
2011/12 Chelsea *1-1 BAYERN MUNICH Munich
2010/11 Barcelona 3-1 MAN UTD London
1996/97 B. DORTMUND 3-1 Juventus Munich
1995/96 JUVENTUS *1-1 Ajax Rome
1985/86 Steaua Bucharest *1-1 BARCELONA Seville
1983/84 Liverpool *1-1 ROMA Rome
1977/78 LIVERPOOL 1-0 Club Brugge London
1967/68 MAN UTD 4-1 Benfica London
1964/65 INTER 1-0 Benfica Milan
1956/57 REAL MADRID 2-0 Fiorentina Madrid

*Won on penalties

The research produces some staggering results. We’ve seen 10 European Cup and Champions League finals that feature a club from the host nation, and six of those clubs have won the showpiece. That seems fairly normal, but there have been no winners on home soil since Borussia Dortmund won in Munich in 1997. 

Manchester City have the chance to end that 27-year run, while if Arsenal win their very first European title, they will be the first winners to be victorious in their own city for 59 years, matching the feat of Inter Milan back in 1965. Obviously, this little quirk requires a few things to fall into place, but we can clearly see that home victories in finals are becoming more uncommon.

The first reason for that is the strength of Europe’s top leagues, and the fact that the European champions now are more likely to come from England, Spain, Germany or Italy. France’s European pedigree has fallen off a cliff over the past two decades, while the last winners outside the big four leagues were Jose Mourinho’s Porto in 2003/04. 

Gone are the days of Steaua Bucharest, Red Star Belgrade or Dynamo Kyiv winning Europe’s biggest prize. The clubs outside the true elite don’t stand a chance of going all the way, and Uefa’s desire to host the final all around the continent also makes a home win a more unlikely event. 

We’ve seen Cardiff, Kyiv, Porto and Istanbul host finals in the last decade - none of which have any real hope of producing teams capable of competing with the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid any time soon. Wales can’t even get a team to compete in the Premier League, let alone with Europe’s elite. 

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With those two combining factors, the opportunities are limited - but they have still been there. Real Madrid were the dominant force in the mid 2010s, winning four Champions League titles in five seasons. The year after that winning run, the final was hosted in Madrid at the new home of their fiercest rivals, Atletico. 

Can you imagine if Real Madrid had lifted the trophy again? It would have caused chaos in the Spanish capital. As it turned out, they crashed out to Ajax in the round of 16 and Liverpool went on to beat Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitano. What could have been. That year Barcelona would have likely won the tournament in their own country had they not imploded in the semi-final at Anfield in that remarkable 4-0 defeat. 

The biggest chance of a modern victory, not only on home soil - or in their home city - but in their own stadium, came when Bayern Munich hosted Chelsea in 2012. Barcelona may have been the greatest team in the world at that time, but the Blues had done a job on them in the semi-final and it was all set up for Bayern to crown themselves as the kings of the continent at the Allianz Arena.

They’d lost the league title and DFB-Pokal final to Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, but German football was in a strong position and with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Phillip Lahm they had all the talent in the world. They were fabulous to watch, and many thought they would succeed where Barcelona failed on home soil. 

But this Chelsea spirit was indomitable. They were 1-0 down when Didier Drogba produced a magnificent late header to equalise, and then Petr Cech saved Arjen Robben’s spot-kick in extra-time. Ultimately, a penalty shoot-out decided the final, with Chelsea coming from behind in the shootout itself to win the trophy for the first time. A dream day for Drogba. A nightmare for the city of Munich. 

Manchester United were schooled by Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona at Wembley the previous year, while United’s quarter-final exit to Real Madrid in 2002/03 ended their dreams of lifting the trophy at Old Trafford. But the only other time in the history of the European Cup that a team has lost a final in its own stadium, as Bayern did, was when Liverpool beat Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in 1984. Also decided by penalties, it was a heartbreaking moment in the Italian capital for the hosts. 

For the last success in their own country, we have to take a look at Borussia Dortmund’s win in 1997 at the Olympiastadion. To put that date into context, Princess Diana was still alive, Tony Blair had just been elected prime minister and MMMBop by Hanson was top of the charts. Meanwhile, Dortmund became the kings of Europe as they beat Juventus 3-1, as Paul Lambert got the better of Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps.

It has been a while, but a final in England and the strength of the Premier League mean that 2024 holds a lot of promise for there to be a Champions League win on home soil. Twenty-seven years after Dortmund partied in the German capital, will Arsenal or Manchester City do the same in London? 

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Check out our other Football Betting Tips here. 

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