If the drama, shocks, twists and turns that sent pulses racing on the road to Madrid are a taste of things to come, we should be in for quite a final
Three clubs made their group stage debuts: Crvena zvezda, Hoffenheim and Young Boys.
A record six teams recovered from a first-leg defeat to win ties this season.
Neymar became the highest-scoring Brazilian in the competition’s history, with 32 goals.
The record number of years between Spurs’ two European Cup semi-finals – 1962 and 2019.
This is the first UEFA Champions League final since 2013 not to feature a Spanish side.
The football world paused with shock and concern after Iker Casillas suffered a heart attack during a training session with Porto in May. The Spaniard has been a fixture in the UEFA Champions League since the last century, having made his competition debut for Real Madrid in 1999. In September, he became the first player to feature in a 20th consecutive season, for Porto against Schalke. “I feel extremely proud to have won it three times and managed to stay in the Champions League for so long,” said 38-year-old ‘San Iker’, now recovering with a record 177 competition appearances under his belt.
MESSI TOPS THE CHARTS
Lionel Messi’s exceptional semi-final free-kick against Liverpool was not just a suitably magnificent way to reach 600 goals for Barcelona – it also raised his UEFA Champions League total for 2018/19 to an unrivalled 12. With it, the Argentinian is poised to finish the season as the top marksman for the first time since sharing that accolade with Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar in 2015, and the sixth time overall. Ronaldo, with 126, remains the overall leading goalscorer, ahead of Messi on 112; two thirtysomethings still illuminating the competition with a ball at their feet and a goalkeeper to beat.
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TEAM BORUSSIA DORTMUND
This has been a breakthrough season for the quick and technically gifted winger, who struck against Atlético de Madrid during the group stage and made his England debut in October.
With both goals in a 2-1 defeat of Porto in the round of 16, the teenage midfielder became the youngest Italian to score twice in a UEFA Champions League match.
A defensive midfielder with uncommon creativity, drive and vision, De Jong was a revelation for Ajax this term, agreeing a deal in January to join Barcelona this summer.
Having started his debut Porto campaign on the bench, the quick and powerful central defender has since impressed so much that he has signed for
Captain since the age of 18, the Netherlands centre-back has skippered an exciting young Ajax side with panache, and led from the front with his winning header against Juventus in the quarter-finals.
The versatile Brazilian joined Barcelona last summer but his technique, vision and movement already recall a few Camp Nou greats – including Xavi Hernández, who believes Arthur can “mark an era” at the club.
It was not for a lack of goals that Manchester City ended the season still chasing that much-desired first European crown. After all, Pep Guardiola’s team were the competition’s most prolific side, hitting 30 goals in ten matches – and twice breaking their own European scoring record in the process: first with a 6-0 group stage defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, then with a 7-0 display against Schalke in the round of 16.
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