Italians and bottling the UCL: A love story.

This article was inspired from a tweet I came across from Inzaghismo.


I have added Inter to the initial comparison in order to get a closer look at Italian clubs (those who won it at least once) how bad they can be in the most prestigious club competitions.

Before we get started, it’s important to mention that AC Milan are the club with the most UCL titles and can’t be considered “bottlers” per say. However, as Izaghismo already pointed out, they did bottle 2006’s edition in the worst possible manner. For that reason, we’ll leave them for the end.

While Juve reaches finals but fails to win titles, Inter rarely participate in the latter stages but made it count when they did. Last but not least, Milan who have won it several times but keep a rather bitter feeling as the one finale everyone remembers is the one they successfully bottled.

We will go through all of this and let you decide: Who is Italy’s worst UCL participant from those 3 clubs?

Champions Leagues titles: 2

(1985-1996)

Finals played: 9

 

Juventus have undoubtedly dominated the Italian football throughout many periods of time (no we will not go into Calciopoli in this article). They have however only managed to clinch 2 Champions League titles; a weird number when compared to the number of times they have reached the final game.

What stands out when looking at Juve’s lost finals is how close in time they are. Besides 1973 and 2003, all the other finals have come within a couple of years (2015 and 2017; 1983 and 1985); in fact, Juve have played three consecutive Champions League finals (1996-1997-1998) but have disappointingly only managed to win one (1996).

What does it say?

In 9 seasons throughout football history, Juve has been at least the second best team in Europe. Juve has made the most (almost) of their golden years. During periods where they dominate locally, they are able to compete to the highest level and be European title contenders.

But why do they never win when it matters?

Bad luck? Psychological barriers? A curse…?

One thing is certain however, they should win it before the rest of Italy catches up to their level. And its happening.


Champions League titles: 3

(1964-1965-2010)

Finals played: 5

 

We will all agree that Inter have protected themselves from being made fun of after 2010. Sealing a historical Treble and going on to make it 5 titles in one year.

But wait a minute…

45 years between both titles?

Also two lost finals in 1967 and 1972.

In 38 years, Inter have been unable to reach a UCL final. A rather long period for a club that considers itself among the Elite of European football. Thanfully after 6 years of absence, they have managed to get back into the competition.

Before those 6 years, Inter has also left the competition in horrible ways. Losing to Schalke 5-2 while being title holders and getting knocked out by one of Olympique Marseille’s weakest sides the following year.

It is fair to say that despite not being able to often make a memorable run in the UCL, Inter have made sure to write down history when they do. Exceptional seasons give Inter a certain edge but they’re UCL history is definitely not as bright as it seems.

It takes Inter many years to put itself at the front of the European scene, it does not last long but it certainly reaches a peak level.

Only Inter’s best of the best sides have managed to win it, Helenio Herrera’s Inter being “La Grande Inter” constitutes the basis of the club’s history while Mourinho’s Inter has been able to culmunate 6 years of local dominance into a first treble in Italian football.


Champions League titles: 7

(1963-1969-1989-1990-1994-2003-2007)

Finals played: 11

 

We’ve finally reached the most prolific Italian club in the UCL. The numbers speak for themselves here. Once again, just like Juventus, Milan have reached finals whenever they were at their best. Under Sacchi and between 1989 and 1994, Milan have had what could easily be considered the best time period for any European club (after Real Madrid runs late 50s and mid 2010s).

But we’re not here to talk about their success are we?

I know, it’s unfair. I don’t care.

How can you? HOW?

So close to winning their 2 UCL title in 3 yeas, Milan have managed to throw away what seemed to be a case closed. Maybe victims of overconfidence or simply thought Liverpool wouldn’t even try. That night has disppointed, not only Milan fans but Calcio fans too.

To this day, Milan fans run away when 2005 is mentioned. Although they did get their revenge two years, it seems like 2007’s victory was sweet enough to make them forget how bitter 2005 was.

An absolute shocker of a game. It will stay as one of the most memorable UCL finals ever, and Milan will unfortunately for ever be the ones that bottled a 3 goals margin. With how the game was set, Milan could have passed the ball around until the final whistle.


Personal opinion

To close this article and answer Inzaghismo,

Juve may have failed 7 times to adding a title to their cabinet, but they definitely never bottled it as badly as Milan did that night in Istanbul.

It just has to go down as the worst Italian club performance in a UCL Final.

I’d personally lose it 7 times before having to live one time through that Milan game.

But I’m an Interista and that’s why I enjoyed writing this; although we should start participating more if we are to be part of this debate.