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Real Madrid could break the curse of the Champions League holders... their win over Bayern Munich takes them closer to ending a 24-year wait for the trophy to be retained

April 19, 2017 10:44 AM
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Some of sports' longest reigning curses have been lifted in the past year - the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series, Hibernian won the Scottish Cup - but one of the most famous in Europe still stands.

Since the European Cup morphed into the Champions League in 1992, no team has ever retained the trophy, from inaugural winners Marseille to Barcelona in 2015.

If there is one team to break the hoodoo, however, it is surely 11-time European champions Real Madrid - and they are three games away from achieving it this season.

Real defeated Bayern Munich in controversial circumstances on Tuesday night in their quarter final second leg at the Bernabeu, going through 5-3 on aggregate.

They beat city rivals Atletico in the 2016 final on penalties, and so could become the first team to lift the trophy two years in a row under its current guise.

Ajax were a penalty shootout away in 1996 and three other sides have reached the final before being beaten, but Zinedine Zidane's men, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line, could be the first.

The last team to manage the feat was AC Milan, who won the European Cup back to back in 1989 and 1990.

Who has tried - and failed - since then? Sportsmail have provided the full run-down, look below to find out...

The French club won the first instalment of the newly rebranded Champions League but didn't even feature in the second edition of the competition following allegations of match-fixing in Ligue 1.

The Rossoneri romped past Barcelona 4-0 to lift the title in 1994 and they came close to retaining their crown only for an 84th-minute goal from 18-year-old Patrick Kluivert in Vienna to make Ajax the new champs.

The Dutch side were a penalty shootout away from a successful defence in 1996, after their final against Juventus went the distance at the Olympic Stadium in Rome.

Edgar Davids and Sonny Silooy missed from 12 yards to hand the Old Lady the title.

The trend of defending champions falling at the last continued in 1997, as Karl-Heinz Riedle scored twice for Borussia Dortmund in a 3-1 victory in Munich.

Dortmund got out of a group including Sparta Prague, Galatasaray and Parma before beating Bayern Munich in their quarter-final.

However, their adventure was ended by eventual winners Real Madrid in the last four.

Madrid squeezed through their group with defeats by Spartak Moscow and Inter Milan before they were surprisingly beaten in the quarter-finals by the Dynamo Kiev team which included Andriy Shevchenko .

This time it was the turn of Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils, who couldn't make up for a 3-2 first-leg defeat by Real Madrid at Old Trafford and were knocked out after a goalless draw at the Bernabeu.

This was the year that Real and Leeds United reached the same stage of the competition.

While Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell et al were being beaten by Valencia in the semi-finals, Madrid were busy losing 3-1 on aggregate to Bayern Munich.

Bayern dropped points against Sparta Prague and Feyenoord in the first group stage, drew with Manchester United and Boavista in the second group stage and then lost 3-2 on aggregate to Real in the quarter-finals during a low-key campaign.

A dramatic 6-5 last-eight win over Manchester United landed the Galacticos with a semi-final tie against Juventus.

After winning the first leg 2-1, however, Madrid were toppled by Alessandro del Piero, Pavel Nedved and David Trezeguet goals in the rematch in Turin.

Milan seemed on course for a place in the semi-finals when they went 4-1 up on aggregate against Deportivo la Coruna.

It all went wrong for the Italians in the second leg, though, as Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron, Albert Luque and Fran found the net in Deportivo's remarkable 4-0 victory.

The Portuguese club were unable to recreate the magic they enjoyed under Jose Mourinho the previous year, as their old boss helped Chelsea qualify out of Group H in front of them. Porto couldn't even reach the knockout stage.

In the ultimate anti-climax after the drama of Istanbul, Liverpool limped out of the competition after being beaten home and away by Benfica in the last 16.

Barca suffered the ignominy of being dumped out of the tournament by a Craig Bellamy goal, as Liverpool's 2-1 victory in the Nou Camp in the first leg of the last-16 encounter paved the way for the Reds' away-goals win.

For the fifth season in a row, the defending champions failed to make it as far as the semi-finals, as Milan were beaten 2-0 at home by Arsenal in the last 16. Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor scored the goals.

United ended the run of meek title defences by reaching the final, thanks to a 4-2 aggregate victory over Arsenal in the last four. However, they could not get past Barcelona in Rome, as Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi found the net.

Having annihilated Arsenal in the quarter-finals, the Catalans seemed set to break the mould and become the first club to keep hold of their crown. But Jose Mourinho had other ideas. His Inter Milan outfit booked their place in the final with a 3-2 aggregate win.

The Nerazurri endured a nightmare last-eight encounter with Schalke. The Germans hammered them 5-2 in the first leg and then won 2-1 at the San Siro to send their opponents crashing out with their tails well and truly lodged between their legs.

Barca eased into the semi-finals and were hotly fancied to see off Chelsea in the last four. The Blues proved hard to budge, however, and after Didier Drogba gave them a 1-0 lead after the first leg, Ramires and Fernando Torres scored in a 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp to see the London side through.

Defeats by Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus saw Chelsea's reign cut short. They did at least enjoy victory in the Europa League as some form of consolation.

The Bavarian side eased past Manchester United in the quarter-finals but were utterly outclassed by Madrid in the semis. Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo both scored twice in Real's 4-0 second-leg triumph at the Allianz Arena.

Real reached the last four but found their path blocked by Juventus, who won 2-1 in Turin thanks to goals from Carlos Tevez and Alvaro Morata and then secured safe passage with a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.

On April 1, the world's best team seemed destined for a treble. Fast forward two weeks and they were shown the Champions League door by Atletico Madrid.


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