With all four English clubs qualifying from their groups in the Champions League, it seems that we could once again be entering a golden era for Premier League sides in Europe’s greatest competition.
Between 2005 and 2012, an English team would make the final in all but one season, with three clubs lifting the famous trophy in that time.
Here’s a look back to some of those special European campaigns.
2004/05 Liverpool - Winners
Scraping through in the group stage thanks to a Steven Gerrard thunderbolt, something about Liverpool’s run in 2005 just seemed to be right. Knockout stage victories came against Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, Chelsea, before they arrived in Istanbul to face Milan. 3-0 down at half-time, tactical genius Rafael Benitez made the inspired decision to haul Steve Finnan off for Didi Hamann. A five-minute rush saw Liverpool level the score, and some goalkeeping heroics from Jerzy Dudek took the Reds into a penalty shootout. With the trophy on the line, Andriy Shevchenko stepped up to take one of the worst penalties I’ve ever seen to hand Liverpool their fifth European Cup.
2004/05 Chelsea - Semi-finalists
Don’t forget Chelsea’s exploits that year though! The Blues got past Barcelona via a penalty shootout, and then knocked out Bayern Munich. Ultimately, they were sent home by what Liverpool fans will call a perfectly legitimate Luis Garcia goal…
2005/06 Arsenal - Finalists
In the 2005/06 season, it was Arsenal’s turn. Packing Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robert Pires, Jose Antonio Reyes going forward, it was little surprise to many that the Gunners knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the semi-final, where a last-gasp Jens Lehmann penalty save sent them to Paris for the final against Barcelona. The German shot-stopper would soon become the villain, however, sent off in just the 18th minute after denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Despite taking the lead through Sol Campbell’s header, a pair of second half Barca goals took the trophy back to Catalunya.
2006/07 Liverpool - Finalists
Liverpool headed back to the final in 2007 for a rematch with Milan, who would this time come out the victors. An impressive run to the final had seen the Reds come out on top against Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, before again beating Chelsea in the semi-final, this time on penalties.
2007/08 Manchester United - Winners
2008 came around and once again an English team had their hands on the trophy. United beat Lyon, AS Roma, and Barcelona on their road to the final, with stars like Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, and Cristiano Ronaldo propelling them along the way. An all-English final against Chelsea was one of the more dramatic ones in modern times, with most remembering it for John Terry’s penalty slip when presented with the chance to clinch the shootout.
2007/08 Chelsea - Finalists
Poor Chelsea. Having finally beaten Liverpool in the semi-final, the Blues were oh so close to defeating United. Your time will come though, Chelsea fans…
2008/09 Manchester United - Finalists
Alex Ferguson’s side very nearly went back-to-back with Champions League wins, but were unfortunate to run into one of the greatest teams we’ve ever seen in football, in the form of 08/09 Barcelona. Remember this…
2010/11 Manchester United - Finalist
…because exactly the same thing happened again in 2011.
2011/12 Chelsea - Winners
We can all picture it now – Didier Drogba breaking off his marker to flick a header goalwards, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer only able to punch the ball into the roof of his net. The big man would win the shootout later on too, calmly sweeping the ball into the corner to hand Chelsea a pain-easing Champions League trophy.