We’re now three game weeks into the 2020-21 Champions League campaign, and as the group stages start to take shape, it’s becoming clearer what teams pose a real threat in this year’s competition. And, when looking at the football betting comparing the best odds, you’ll notice the same old teams leading the market – Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool and so on.
As a whole host of Europe’s elite attempt to make a name for themselves this season, let’s take a look at five players who have already cemented their names in Champions League history.
Andrés Iniesta – 4 titles
Whilst Lionel Messi is probably the first player who comes to your mind when you think of Barcelona, Andrés Iniesta will still go down in the history books as one of the Catalan club’s best ever players. The midfield maestro won 35 trophies whilst at Barça, including nine La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues – making him the most decorated Spaniard of all time. And, his 93rd-minute winner that crushed Chelsea’s hopes of getting to the 2009 final, will always be remembered by football fans around the globe.
Paolo Maldini – 5 titles
Italy and AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini was at the heart of the Rossoneri’s dominance throughout the late 1980s, ‘90s, and early 2000s. First appearing for Milan in 1985, Maldini spurred the Italian giants on to back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1989 and 1990. Once the competition was rebranded as the Champions League, the versatile defender featured in six more finals across a 15-year period, including Liverpool’s famous comeback in 2005, and lifted the trophy on a further three occasions (1993-94, 2002-03 and 2006-07)
Sergio Ramos – 4 titles
Sergio Ramos joined Real Madrid from Sevilla in 2005, but it wasn’t until the 2013-14 season that he finally got his hand on the iconic big-eared trophy. The centre-back played a huge part in the 2014 final, sending the tie to extra time with a 93rd-minute equaliser against bitter rivals Atlético Madrid. Los Blancos ran out 4-1 winners in the end with Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo adding to the rout. Ramos opened the scoring again against Atlético in the 2016 final, before Yannick Carrasco equalised and the game headed to penalties. The defender netted his spot-kick and was awarded Man of the Match as Madrid won their 11th title. That victory triggered the beginning of three successive victories in the Champions League for Los Blancos – with Ramos at the heart of all three.
Lionel Messi – 4 titles
It was a tough call between Lionel Messi and Ronaldo at the top of our list. However, since the Portuguese superstar has won the Champions League more times than Messi, he takes the No.1 spot. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Argentine, with Liverpool’s historic comeback two seasons ago, and a thrashing at the hands of Bayern last term, but he’s been so influential in Barça’s four triumphs since 2006, and of course, he is the second all-time top scorer in the competition – behind Ronaldo once again – with 117 goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 5 titles
Ronaldo, who has won the Champions League an impressive five times, witnessed the highs and lows of football in the 2008 final, when he won the competition for the first time with Manchester United. The Portuguese forward fired the Red Devils into the lead in Moscow, but after Frank Lampard equalised, the game remained deadlocked and headed for penalties. Ronaldo missed his spot-kick and was left in tears. However, with the help of John Terry and Nicolas Anelka, Man United held on to win the final. Four more titles followed at Madrid, along with his goal-scoring consistency over the years, which has led to a whopping 128 goals, make Ronaldo undoubtedly the Champions League GOAT.