With Barcelona almost seen as a permanent fixture in the Champions League final, or at least semi-final, it was quite a shock to see them kicked out in the quarter-final against fellow Spanish team Atletico Madrid this time around. The Catalans were in the middle of an unprecedented dip for such a big club, with even their star strike force finding it hard to find the back of the net, however, after their 8-0 hammering of Deportivo, it is safe to say they are back – but a little too late.
While it will be strange not seeing Barcelona contesting the big prize, there have been even bigger shock wins, and losses, over the years.
Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (2004 Quarter-finals)
Speaking of Deportivo, they had been on the other side of a big win, and one that really counted when they faced Milan in the 2004 quarter-finals. With Real Madrid, Atletico, and of course Barcelona grabbing most of the headlines in Spain, it is easy to forget that Deportivo were a powerhouse side back towards the start of the 21st century. However, by 2004, they had begun to let it slip a bit.
Italian giants Milan were the heavily rated favourites, especially after they managed to start off with a first leg lead of 4-1 at the San Siro. No team in the history of the 12-year tournament at that point had overcome a three-goal deficit after the first leg before, so things did not look good for the Spaniards. To make matters worse, Milan were defending champs and were yet to concede a European goal on the road that season.
In the first half, there was a full on attack that saw Deportivo 3-0 up and then a late goal finally came to send the Spaniards through to the semi-finals, leaving Milan stunned.
Monaco 3-1 Real Madrid (2004 Quarter-finals)
In 2004, very few predicted the final to be between relative minnows Monaco and Porto, but it took a series of unusual events for this final to materialize, and one of those events was the quarter-final between Monaco and Real Madrid.
Madrid were looking a real force in 2004, having dropped only two points during the group stages. In the first leg, Madrid continued their dominance by powering through four second-half goals. The Spanish giants would have felt very comfortable as the final half of the two-leg race began with them still sitting with a 5-3 aggregate, only for Monaco to nab two second-half goals in less than 20 minutes which would tie the total score and send them through on the away-goals rule.
Inter 1-5 Arsenal (2003 Group Stage)
History makers in 2002, much was expected of Arsenal after their ‘invincibles team’ remained unbeaten in their domestic season. But that expectation soon wore off as Arsenal began their 2003-04 Champions League campaign terribly, securing just one point from their first three matches at the group stage that also included a 0-3 drubbing from Inter in London.
A similar drubbing was expected for the return fixture from Inter, especially on the road, and especially with charismatic captain Patrick Vieira missing. At halftime, many would have started to believe as the game was tied 1-1, maybe not believe they could overturn the game, but that they may salvage some pride.
In the 49th minute, it was Freddie Ljungberg who gave Arsenal the advantage before the floodgates opened. Within less than five minutes, Arsenal had awoken by scoring three more goals, sending the Italians packing and giving Arsenal a chance of keeping things alive in Europe.