The Best And Worst Champions League Finalists Ever

Inspired by Rob Brown's following tweet, we look at the best and worst Champions League finalist ever.
To answer that question, we should first define what is good and what is less good. Obviously, on this blog our measure will be the average Goalimpact of the team. However, because we don't really know which players were available in the games, we take the average of the starting XI only. Also we need to define what we mean by 'Champions League'. We included predecessor, the European Champion Clubs' Cup

Before we answer Rob's question, let's look at the best finalists rather than worst finalists.

Rank Season Team Goalimpact PeakGI Win
1 2013/2014 Real Madrid 147.7 152.9 yes
2 2012/2013 Bayern München 145.7 152.7 yes
3 2010/2011 FC Barcelona 144.5 152.3 yes
4 2008/2009 Manchester United 140.1 151.3 no
5 2007/2008 Chelsea FC 139.2 150.4 no
6 2007/2008 Manchester United 138.9 146.5 yes
7 2011/2012 Bayern München 136.8 146.7 no
8 1995/1996 AFC Ajax 135.3 150.3 no
9 1973/1974 Bayern München 134.3 139.9 yes
10 2010/2011 Manchester United 133.8 150.5 no
11 1994/1995 AFC Ajax 131.9 147.4 yes
12 1993/1994 FC Barcelona 131.8 139.6 no
13 2009/2010 Bayern München 131.3 142.5 no
14 2012/2013 Borussia Dortmund 131.2 135.4 no
15 2005/2006 FC Barcelona 130.6 138.5 yes
16 2001/2002 Real Madrid 130.3 137.1 yes
17 2005/2006 Arsenal FC 129.8 140.9 no
18 2008/2009 FC Barcelona 129.2 142.6 yes
19 1982/1983 Hamburger SV 129.1 137.3 yes
20 1974/1975 Bayern München 129.1 134.2 yes

As we can see, the answer to the opposite of Rob's question is "Manchester United 2008/2009". That is the best finalist not to win the cup. The second best team not to win is Chelsea FC that lost against ManU in a penalty shoot-out. In Goalimpact terms, the teams' ratings were to close to call a winner, too.

Now, let's look at the other end of that table.

Rank Season Team Goalimpact PeakGI Win
99 1961/1962 SL Benfica 106.1 119.2 yes
100 1959/1960 Eintracht Frankfurt 106.0 118.5 no
101 1975/1976 AS Saint-Etienne 105.3 111.1 no
102 1979/1980 Nottingham Forest 105.2 114.8 yes
103 1973/1974 Atletico Madrid 105.1 118.7 no
104 1967/1968 SL Benfica 104.8 113.8 no
105 1955/1956 Stade Reims 104.6 114.8 no
106 1969/1970 Feyenoord 104.4 111.7 yes
107 1967/1968 Manchester United 103.8 121.2 yes
108 1987/1988 PSV Eindhoven 103.3 113.4 yes
109 1977/1978 Club Brugge KV 103.2 113.7 no
110 1978/1979 Nottingham Forest 102.9 113.4 yes
111 1985/1986 Steaua Bucuresti 102.8 110.6 yes
112 1957/1958 AC Milan 102.8 114.8 no
113 1988/1989 Steaua Bucuresti 102.4 115.1 no
114 1956/1957 ACF Fiorentina 102.0 109.5 no
115 1987/1988 SL Benfica 101.9 111.2 no
116 1986/1987 FC Porto 101.6 111.8 yes
117 1970/1971 Panathinaikos 100.5 110.7 no
118 1978/1979 Malmö FF 94.0 110.4 no

That answers the question. The worst team ever to win the cup was the FC Porto in season 86/87. But that was in the European Champion Clubs' Cup in which winning for a less good team was more likely. If we restrict the list to Champions League only, we end up with

Season Team Goalimpact PeakGI Win
1994/1995 AC Milan 117.89 129.90 no
2003/2004 AS Monaco 117.48 122.08 no
1992/1993 Olympique Marseille 116.52 127.82 yes
1995/1996 Juventus 115.28 127.88 yes
2001/2002 Bayer Leverkusen 114.98 119.15 no
1999/2000 Real Madrid 112.71 126.38 yes
1993/1994 AC Milan 111.98 123.98 yes
2000/2001 Valencia CF 111.38 126.06 no
1999/2000 Valencia CF 110.59 122.10 no
2003/2004 FC Porto 110.48 118.31 yes

And hence, according to Goalimpact at least, the worst team ever to win the Champions League was FC Porto in 2003/2004. They were lucky to play against on of the other ten weakest finalists in the competition AS Monaco. Clearly, those times the concentration of top players on a small number of clubs wasn't that advanced already as it is in Europe today. Therefore, there was still a chance that too underdogs could reach the final. This seems unthinkable today.


Chelsea FC vs FC Schalke 04 Lineups

Odds based on starting XI: Chelsea FC: 58.9%, draw: 25.5%, FC Schalke 04: 15.6%

Chelsea FC

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Nemanja Matic119.3119.526.1Serbien14611585
Cesc Fàbregas182.3186.127.3Spanien50938297
Thibaut Courtois124.1173.322.3Belgien21620110
Filipe Luís125.1131.929.1Brasilien30926787
Branislav Ivanovic121.3133.530.5Serbien36732183
Gary Cahill106.4112.828.7England35332138
Eden Hazard132.1137.923.7Belgien31623070
John Terry163.9197.433.8England67060090
Willian137.6137.826.1Brasilien28420677
Didier Drogba106.4166.436.5Elfenbeinküste55142958
Ramires123.6127.827.4Brasilien34827865
Average131.1147.728.3
Bench
John Mikel109.6113.627.3Nigeria35525873
Loïc Remy96.6101.527.7Frankreich25118373
Azpilicueta121.7123.925.0Spanien29225421
Kurt Zouma98.7124.419.8Frankreich [U21]836713
Diego Costa113.5113.825.9Spanien23617862
Oscar122.3130.823.0Brasilien20914612
Petr Cech185.3187.432.3Tschechien63759215
Average121.1127.925.9


FC Schalke 04

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Dennis Aogo95.099.827.7Deutschland29923585
Roman Neustädter129.8131.326.526421690
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar140.9157.731.1Niederlande44235383
Julian Draxler120.0138.420.9Deutschland17411562
Kaan Ayhan116.7142.919.8Türkei [U21]927718
Marco Höger113.3115.724.914911695
Christian Fuchs105.6111.828.4Österreich38131156
Ralf Fährmann101.1117.325.911810921
Sidney Sam121.5123.226.6Deutschland25017064
Kevin Prince Boateng106.8111.227.5Ghana29421404
Max Meyer107.8143.818.9Deutschland [U19]936314
Average114.4126.625.3
Bench
Chinedu Obasi108.8114.928.3Nigeria16110922
Donis Avdijaj80.8127.618.0311722
Marvin Friedrich100.4139.118.8Deutschland [U19]695940
Christian Wetklo98.298.534.718316799
Christian Clemens98.7106.823.1Deutschland [U21]16811712
Tranquillo Barnetta109.8116.829.3Schweiz34724404
Maxim Choupo-Moting98.199.425.4Kamerun19511581
Average99.3114.725.4




Bayern München vs Manchester City: Goalimpact of Lineups

Odds based on starting XI: Bayern München: 57.8%, draw: 26.0%, Manchester City: 16.3%

Bayern München

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Mehdi Benatia114.3118.327.4Marokko20317894
Jérôme Boateng146.3146.426.0Deutschland34628081
Rafinha128.6135.329.0Brasilien Olymp.34028680
Juan Bernat104.5119.621.5Spanien [U21]896067
Mario Götze148.0159.322.3Deutschland20914303
Philipp Lahm195.1209.730.8Deutschland58952739
Thomas Müller173.9176.325.0Deutschland36128621
David Alaba131.2142.722.2Österreich24820370
Xabi Alonso168.4197.132.8Spanien63351994
Robert Lewandowski143.9144.026.0Polen28622881
Manuel Neuer192.3197.928.4Deutschland41438780
Average149.7158.826.5
Bench
Pepe Reina171.7173.932.0Spanien62658177
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg105.0139.619.1Dänemark [U21]735245
Sebastian Rode105.5110.423.9Deutschland [U21]15212334
Xherdan Shaqiri129.8138.622.9Schweiz21614157
Arjen Robben152.6165.530.6Niederlande50036977
Dante133.1148.330.8Brasilien31728315
Claudio Pizarro103.8156.435.9Peru61144455
Average128.8147.527.9


Manchester City

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Yaya Touré127.6146.631.3Elfenbeinküste44737675
Samir Nasri126.1129.527.2Frankreich43831607
Jesús Navas133.0139.528.8Spanien44035373
Edin Džeko132.8139.128.5Bosnien-Herzegowina35226273
Vincent Kompany143.8149.928.4Belgien42937503
Gaël Clichy154.1161.029.1Frankreich38432518
Joe Hart143.3150.027.3England33931608
David Silva135.3141.728.7Spanien42432910
Bacary Sagna130.1151.131.6Frankreich42237675
Martín Demichelis116.9150.233.7Argentinien46038489
Fernandinho141.5148.529.3Brasilien27122316
Average135.0146.129.4
Bench
Frank Lampard124.5180.636.2England87674878
Dedryk Boyata94.7100.123.8Belgien [U21]644555
Kun Agüero144.8145.526.3Argentinien45133335
Willy Caballero106.2107.732.926123883
James Milner117.0123.528.7England52237463
Eliaquim Mangala120.8127.023.6Frankreich [U21]17814784
Aleksandar Kolarov105.8112.328.8Serbien26520051
Average116.3128.128.6




Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid: GIs for Lineups


Real Madrid

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Iker Casillas165.9165.932.9Spanien74969560
Raphaël Varane115.9139.021.0Frankreich1038491
Sergio Ramos171.2176.228.1Spanien49944321
Fábio Coentrão126.9127.326.2Portugal22717582
Dani Carvajal127.7141.722.3Spanien [U21]887327
Sami Khedira139.7142.427.1Deutschland33426492
Gareth Bale126.6130.724.8Wales32227171
Luka Modric130.1135.528.7Kroatien32526638
Ángel Di María147.2147.726.3Argentinien37224352
Cristiano Ronaldo197.1202.829.3Portugal61451322
Karim Benzema158.0158.926.3Frankreich39826141
Bench
Diego López110.4110.432.529827356
Pepe143.7159.831.2Portugal33029322
Marcelo150.2150.326.0Brasilien28323593
Arbeloa136.3153.331.3Spanien33628742
Isco116.8132.022.0Spanien16011709
Illarramendi120.7127.024.2Spanien [U21]1137876
Morata121.2140.321.5Spanien [U21]804278


Atletico Madrid

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Thibaut Courtois131.7131.722.0Belgien20418932
Diego Godín123.6128.828.2Uruguay33530121
Filipe Luís124.8130.228.8Brasilien30426415
Juanfran119.3125.129.3Spanien36027180
Miranda134.7140.829.7Brasilien32329200
Tiago108.7136.233.0Portugal36525546
Koke120.8134.822.3Spanien18712432
Raúl García121.6126.127.8Spanien [U21]40026663
Gabi115.2128.130.838229908
David Villa137.1161.932.4Spanien51639202
Diego Costa116.3117.825.622817352
Bench
Aranzubía94.294.234.6Spanien36934102
Toby Alderweireld142.8145.625.2Belgien20518073
Mario Suárez117.6120.627.2Spanien22116038
Cristian Rodríguez107.9113.228.6Uruguay32318173
Diego118.1123.829.2Brasilien38631972
José Sosa115.4120.928.8Argentinien36123320
Adrián110.6111.426.3Spanien29118427


Atlético Madrid - FC Barcelona: Stats for Lineups

Given the starting XI, FC Barcelona is expected to win at Atletico Madrid by a narrow margin of 0.12 goals. This is a tight match.

Atletico Madrid

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Thibaut Courtois130.6130.621.9Belgien19618188
Diego Godín122.3127.328.1Uruguay32729377
Filipe Luís123.4128.828.7Brasilien29625671
Juanfran117.7123.529.3Spanien35226439
Miranda133.3139.329.6Brasilien31628549
Tiago107.9135.032.9Portugal35925045
Koke119.8134.122.3Spanien17911724
Raúl García120.5124.827.8Spanien [U21]39125960
Gabi114.8127.130.837629350
Adrián110.4111.026.3Spanien Olymp.28618191
David Villa136.1160.632.3Spanien50738650
Bench
Aranzubía94.694.634.5Spanien Olymp.36934102
Toby Alderweireld142.5145.725.1Belgien20317977
Emiliano Insúa112.9115.625.3Argentinien16914685
Mario Suárez117.2119.927.1Spanien21615654
Cristian Rodríguez108.0113.328.5Uruguay31818071
José Sosa115.6121.128.8Argentinien35523192
Carlos Ramos84.4120.519.6171


FC Barcelona

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Pinto76.576.538.422220264
Bartra127.4137.623.3Spanien [U21]1189847
Jordi Alba120.2123.625.0Spanien23718081
Dani Alves178.2192.030.9Brasilien53846090
Cesc Fàbregas179.7181.926.9Spanien49437445
Xavi145.9179.934.2Spanien76261995
Iniesta157.2163.329.9Spanien52437095
Javier Mascherano165.2171.329.8Argentinien45138387
Busquets154.9155.925.8Spanien30424390
Lionel Messi182.1184.026.8Argentinien45937457
Neymar115.2129.922.2Brasilien19115272
Bench
Oier99.999.924.6585377
Martín Montoya129.2140.423.0Spanien [U21]12810800
Adriano131.0136.829.4Brasilien35725654
Alex Song141.8143.226.6Kamerun34026760
Sergi Roberto113.8128.522.2Spanien [U21]1278881
Pedro145.3147.026.7Spanien28018212
Alexis Sánchez137.4139.825.3Chile33422408


Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United: Stats for Lineups

Given the starting XIs, Bayern München is expected to win the second leg by a margin of 0.651 goals.

Bayern München

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Manuel Neuer169.4169.428.0Deutschland39336781
Dante137.5147.530.4Brasilien30227000
Jérôme Boateng147.4148.825.6Deutschland32726308
Philipp Lahm188.7198.230.4Deutschland56750866
David Alaba132.0149.121.8Österreich23419148
Franck Ribéry135.4149.931.0Frankreich42734515
Mario Götze145.9162.521.8Deutschland18813085
Toni Kroos139.4145.424.3Deutschland28820374
Mario Mandžukic130.9135.627.8Kroatien25920301
Arjen Robben157.5165.330.2Niederlande48135286
Thomas Müller161.3166.324.6Deutschland31324526
Bench
Lukas Raeder117.4117.420.3746913
Daniel Van Buyten91.6146.836.2Belgien45739818
Rafinha134.3139.628.6Brasilien33328174
Mitchell Weiser101.3133.119.9Deutschland [U17]776015
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg98.8145.918.7Dänemark [U21]654789
Claudio Pizarro103.8151.635.5Peru60244075
Patrick Weihrauch101.2131.720.1Deutschland [U19]905844


Manchester United

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeTeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
De Gea120.0120.023.4Spanien [U21]24222483
Patrice Evra151.9178.932.9Frankreich55948403
Phil Jones108.3123.122.1England14511687
Chris Smalling112.9118.524.3England15211800
Nemanja Vidic121.9146.932.4Serbien34130055
Michael Carrick131.1157.132.7England58749056
Darren Fletcher115.9123.530.2Schottland36326743
Antonio Valencia121.6127.028.7Ecuador31924842
Shinji Kagawa125.1128.425.0Japan16012055
Wayne Rooney172.1177.328.4England57045830
Danny Welbeck108.9118.523.3England19612777
Bench
Anders Lindegaard98.598.530.0Dänemark979020
Rio Ferdinand120.4167.335.4England69962981
Alexander Büttner100.8103.725.21349637
Ryan Giggs32.8178.740.3Großbritannien94071798
Ashley Young117.0122.428.8England40131854
Adnan Januzaj91.0132.219.2301859
Javier Hernández124.0124.625.8Mexiko25414508