Every Champions League Final Man Of The Match In The 21st Century

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Every Champions League Final Man Of The Match In The 21st Century

Some of the world’s greatest players have competed in the Champions League final, which is also one of the most-watched sporting events.

Athletes of the highest calibre who have shown anything from mind-boggling bottlejobs to performances worthy of Man of the Match.

So far this century, 24 of the latter have appeared in Champions League finals, and their performances have ranged from average to spectacular.

But which one is the best? Which one is the top dog? Every Champions League final this century has had a different Man of the Match, and we’ve rated the last 24 ahead of the 2024 Champions League final at Wembley.

Their contributions to the outcome (goals, assists, penalty saves), team performance, impact, and (of course) subjective judgment have all been given

Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia – 1999/00 Steve McManaman

Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia - 1999/00 Steve McManaman 

An Englishman stole the show in this European showdown between two Spanish powerhouses, played in front of 80,000 spectators at Paris’s Stade de France.

Real Madrid took the lead in the first half via Fernando Morientes and then secured the job with Raul in the second half, but Steve McManaman had a magnificent moment in the middle.

READ MORE – The Best XI Never To Have Won The Champions League

As soon as the ball rolled to the Liverpool legend on the fringes of the penalty area, he wasted no time unleashing a fantastic scissor-kick that sailed into the far corner of the Valencia goal.

Los Blancos cruised to a win that night, and McManaman was named MotM for his performance.

Bayern Munich 1-1 Valencia (5-4 pens) – 2000/01 Oliver Kahn

Bayern Munich 1-1 Valencia (5-4 pens) - 2000/01 Oliver Kahn

To say that a goalie was the best player on the field is to imply that their team wasn’t quite dominating.

In the 2000–01 season, for example, Bayern Munich and Valencia could not win after regulation and overtime.

As the two sides battled valiantly, each scoring once from the penalty spot during regulation time, Oliver Kahn emerged as the hero of the shootout.

He saved three penalty kicks, including one by Benito Carboni, which he sent into the bar with a firm-handed tip. It was the Germans’ most legendary performance.

Bayer Leverkusen 1- 2 Real Madrid – 2001/02 Zinedine Zidane

Bayer Leverkusen 1- 2 Real Madrid - 2001/02 Zinedine Zidane

While Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final may have left an unsavoury impression on some fans, he solidified his place in history in this Champions League match.

Plus, he accomplished most of the task with a single boot swing.

After Raul put Real Madrid ahead, Lucio, a defender for Bayer Leverkusen, headed in a goal to level the score.

After a long clearance, Zidane could precisely follow the ball as it soared into the sky in the 45th minute.

He straightened himself and launched the most flawless volley you’ve ever seen with a simple hip swivel. His scoring with his less dominant left foot added to the goal’s significance.

AC Milan 0-0 Juventus (3-2 pens) – 2002/03 Paolo Maldini

This one will be one of the most dull Champions League finals ever played. Yes, unfortunately, the match between the two Italian giants at Old Trafford was a total bore for everyone who turned in.

However, we must inquire why the offensive football is not functioning. On this particular occasion, Paolo Maldini of AC Milan repeatedly denied the Juventus attackers the ball. In the end, his team was victorious in the penalty shootout.

Porto 3-0 Monaco – 2003/04 Deco

Winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004 is undeniably one of Jose Mourinho’s finest managerial accomplishments. And he had the enchanted midfielder Deco at the core of his triumph.

As Porto cruised to a 3-0 victory against Monaco, the Brazilian-born Portuguese international was instrumental in the encounter from midfield.

The announcer said, “He’s been outstanding,” after Deco’s second goal. In that regard, he was unquestionably correct.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (3-2 pens) – 2004/05 Steven Gerrard

Incredible as it may seem, Steven Gerrard and company played a dismal first half, then exploded in the second.

However, it is sometimes the way football plays out. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, AC Milan surrendered in the face of Liverpool’s comeback and eventual penalty shootout victory.

The unstoppable Gerrard, who scored the opening goal and earned the penalty that equalized the score, was crucial to his team’s comeback.

The Englishman’s first half was rather poor; therefore, he didn’t earn a perfect score, but it is still one of the most remarkable Champions League final performances ever.

Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal – 2005/06 Samuel Eto’o

Even though Barcelona prevailed in the end, there’s enough evidence to show they weren’t the superior side.

After all, Arsenal still managed to take the lead via Sol Campbell, even though goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was sent off after 18 minutes.

Samuel Eto’o scored both goals for Barcelona in the 76th minute; his deft movement earned a foul from Antoine Griezmann, and his pinpoint finishing was the game-winner.

Even though Juliano Belletti scored the game-winning goal, the Cameroonian attacker was the game-changer.

AC Milan 2-1 Liverpool – 2006/07 Filippo Inzaghi

Two years after their legendary Istanbul meeting, AC Milan had the opportunity to make amends against Liverpool at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.

And they wasted no time doing just that. Although it lacked drama, Italy’s nine was instrumental in a 2-1 victory against England.

Indeed, Filippo Inzaghi scored twice for his side. The first had an element of fortunate escape, as a freekick by Andrea Pirlo went off the goalscorer and into the net.

Inzaghi made it 2-0 with a cleaner second goal, finishing off a beautiful ball from Kaka after circling Pepe Reina.

Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (6-5 pens) – 2007/08 Edwin van der Sar

Just as in the last game that went to penalties, the hero of the contest was once again a goalie.

Edwin van der Sar made a series of excellent stops during regulation time, but he could not prevent Chelsea’s goal—a Frank Lampard tap-in after Michael Essien’s attempt, which had many deflections.

However, his effort was the most illuminating of all players in the shootout. Notably, he prevailed in the mental battles with John Terry, who fell from 12 yards.

He then saved a penalty kick from Nicolas Anelka, securing the Champions League Cup for Manchester United.

Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United – 2008/09 Xavi Hernandez

Pep Guardiola assembled an absurd Barcelona squad in 2008–09; they possessed the technical prowess to out-compete any club in the world. Xavi, a legendary midfielder, was the mastermind behind it all.

His absolute mastery of the game was encapsulated when he sent a pinpoint cross into the penalty area, where Lionel Messi won a header despite the presence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

United were held at arm’s length after giving up the first goal in the 10th minute, but Xavi’s pinpoint passing stopped them from regaining the lead.

Inter 2-0 Bayern Munich – 2009/10 Diego Milito

Mourinho returned to coaching, this time for Inter Milan, the Italian powerhouse that had crowned his champions in 2004. Diego Milito was the hero when he faced Bayern Munich.

The striker was instrumental in clinching a championship with two excellent goals.

This was only one of his remarkable performances; he also won the Coppa Italia and scored 22 goals in Serie A, making it a historic trifecta. You won’t find a finer season than that.

Barcelona 3–1 Manchester United – 2010–11 Lionel Messi

Messi celebrates scoring for Barcelona vs Manchester United

Even though Manchester United had previously lost to Barcelona in 2009, they faced an old enemy again in 2010.

The squad they played in Rome was good, but this one could have been even better, which is bad news for Sir Alex Fergurson and company.

Even though they were playing on home territory, Manchester United seemed bewildered as they clumsily chased shadows around the Wembley pitch throughout the afternoon.

As the game’s primary aggressor, Lionel Messi put on one of the most impressive offensive displays you’ll ever witness, contributing to both goals.

Chelsea 1-1 Bayern Munich (4-3 pens) – 2011/12 Didier Drogba

It’s incredible how a football player can become a legend in seconds. Even though he hadn’t played a significant role in the game up to the last whistle, Didier Drogba came through for Chelsea, helping them win their first Champions League.

He firmly headed home Chelsea’s first corner kick of the encounter in the 88th minute to force extra time and, ultimately, penalties.

Then, in the shootout, he calmly scored a goal from 12 yards out, allowing Roberto Di Matteo’s team to claim victory.

Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Dortmund – 2012/13 Arjen Robben

Bayern Munich made it to the European final for the third year in a row in 2013, winning it on their third attempt.

They accomplished this while losing to Borussia Dortmund, an old rival of theirs in Germany.

Arjen Robben provided another pivotal moment in the game’s final moments after setting up Mario Mandzukic for the goal.

However, Dortmund were able to equalize thanks to Ilkay Gundogan. Franck Ribéry moved the ball backwards with 89 minutes on the clock, setting up Robbern for a sprint to the ball.

His deft touch allowed him to evade several opponents and tip the ball into the far corner of the goal.

Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (AET) – 2013/14 Angel Di Maria

This Champions League final will be remembered as one of the more mundane ones. Last time out, Atletico Madrid led 1-0 until the 93rd minute, but they eventually lost 4-1.

Madrid won La Decima when Sergio Ramos scored an injury-time equalizer and then scored three goals in overtime.

Everyone thought Angel Di Maria was the most outstanding player on the field, even if he didn’t get a goal.

Juventus 1-3 Barcelona – Andres Iniesta – 2014/15

Andres Iniesta, a member of four Barcelona teams that have reached and won the Champions League final, was duly rewarded for his performance in the 3-1 victory against Juventus.

When it came time to run the performance in Berlin, the Spanish maestro spared no effort.

Helping Ivan Rakitic and getting Barça rolling took him all three minutes. On three occasions, this made him the first guy to set up a goal in the Champions League final.

What a remarkable statistic for such a remarkable athlete.

Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (5-3 pens) – 2015/16 Sergio Ramos

Madrid was Atletico’s Achilles’ heel again in 2014–15, two years after he was instrumental in their Champions League final victory against Madrid.

Even though he seemed offside, he could score the first goal in this match without the assistance of video assistant referees.

During stoppage time, he stopped a potentially lethal onslaught with a cunning tactical foul, once again proving he is an absolute master of the black arts.

After regulation and extra time, Real Madrid prevailed 5-3 thanks to a penalty kick that the club captain and centre-back converted from 12 yards out.

Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus – 2016/17 Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s inclusion was inevitable, given that Lionel Messi had already been on this list. He had won all four finals before this one, but he had never been chosen man of the match.

However, he shone while against Juventus. Los Blancos cruised to a 4-1 victory against their Italian opponents, largely thanks to his two goals.

He scored the first goal and added the third. In his first, Ronaldo displayed his usual deadly instincts by crashing in a deft cut-back from Dani Carvajal.

He was at it again in his second, hustling to the near post to head in a superb cross from Luka Modric. The Portuguese were killing it, performing at their highest level.

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool – 2017/18 Gareth Bale

Fans will remember Loris Karius’s two terrible blunders from this final more than anything else, but it shouldn’t take away from Gareth Bale’s outstanding performance in the substitute role.

At the time of his introduction, the score was 1-1; after that, the game was won. His audacious overhead kick connected well with the ball, giving Madrid the lead.

It was one of the all-time great Champions League final goals. After that, he scored from long range to put the score at 3-1, with some assistance from Karius.

Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur – 2018/19 Virgil van Dijk

After last year’s heartbreaking final loss, Liverpool fans would have been satisfied with any outcome against Tottenham Hotspur as long as their team took home the cup.

That was confirmed in 2019 when they prevailed against Spurs 2-0 in a somewhat unremarkable match.

Mohamed Salah scored in the first minute of play, while Divock Origi added the final touch in the 87th minute.

The lack of excitement was due, in large part, to Virgil van Dijk, the finest defender in the world at the time, who collected every ball that came his way. This was true for both the Naturals and Spurs supporters.

PSG 0-1 Bayern Munich – 2019/20 Kingsley Coman

Despite Kingsley Coman’s early success at PSG, he spent two years in Italy with Juventus before joining Bayern Munich.

He resurfaced with the Bavarians in the Champions League final, causing a stir with his previous team.

Although the contest was far from spectacular, the French winger was a constant threat down the sides and eventually scored the game’s lone goal with a header at the back post.

Because of the COVID-19 limitations at the time, none of his former followers could attend the game, so he made sure not to anger them by celebrating against them.

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea – 2020/21 N’Golo Kante

While Guardiola had Manchester City favoured going into this European final, the Cityzens’ lack of experience in such a grand tournament seemed to plague them.

Being in their third Champions League final, Chelsea, on the other hand, seemed to be in control of the situation.

In his typical tenacious defensive role, N’Golo Kante covered the whole field to thwart City’s coordinated attacks.

It was clear who was named Man of the Match, but the day’s award went to Kai Havertz. All the while, the Frenchman had been outstanding.

Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid – 2021/22 Thibaut Courtois

Historically, past goalkeepers’ exploits in penalty shootouts have been why they were considered the most outstanding players in a Champions League final.

In the usual 90 minutes, Thibaut Courtois demonstrated his class with a series of incredible stops.

The Belgian goalkeeper famously preserved a clean sheet against Liverpool as Madrid clung to a shaky 1-0 lead, courtesy of his record-breaking number of saves in a Champions League final.

Los Blancos would have been down by many goals if he hadn’t been on the field.

Man City 1-0 Inter Milan – 2022/23 Rodri

Man City wasted little time returning to another European final after their 2021 defeat. Guardiola was adamant about not making the same mistake again after the contentious decision to bench Rodri against Chelsea.

Once again, the Spaniard began in the centre of the field and put up a commanding performance, solidifying his position as one of the world’s best players.

He also scored the game-winning goal in a nail-biter, helping the Premier League team win their first Champions League titles.

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