We’re still getting our breath back after four brilliant Champions League Quarter Finals, with many suggesting UEFA adapt the one-legged ties for the latter stages of the competition on a permanent basis.
The mini tournament in Lisbon will draw to a close on Sunday and of the semi-finalists only Bayern Munich have won the European Cup or the Champions League. We are also certain to have finalists from Germany or France for the first time since the all-German final of 2013.
In this edition of Sparta Spotlight, we look at the best goalkeeping displays of European finals.
Dida - AC MILAN v Juventus 2003
Serie A’s standing in European football was still pretty high in the early twenty-first century, demonstrated by the all-Italian final at Old Trafford in 2003.
In typically Italian fashion, defences prevailed and the game finished 0-0 and Dida had relatively little to do through the ninety minutes and silver goal extra time, but certainly made himself the hero in the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
The Brazilian saved three of Juve’s spot-kicks from David Trezeguet, Marcelo Zalayeta and Paolo Montero to cement himself in the folklore of AC Milan’s illustrious European history.
Andriy Shevchenko, who’s penalty miss would cost his side the Champions League trophy two years later, scored the all-important kick to give Milan their fourth title in Europe’s elite competition, with Dida hailed as the man of the hour.
Julio Cesar - INTER MILAN v Bayern Munich 2010
Inter can’t quite boast the level of European success of their city rivals, but they are the last Italian team to win the Champions League.
Jose Mourinho’s side had ousted Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the semi-final and their counter attacking style made them one of the most effective club sides in the world.
Julio Cesar was solid as a rock in the Inter goal as Bayern took the game to the Italian side and Inter unsurprisingly sitting off them.
The Brazilian goalkeeper’s vision and effective distribution played a key part in Inter’s first goal, with his long clearance nodded down by Diego Milito and the return from Wesley Schneider was slotted home by the striker.
Just moments later, Thomas Muller agonised when his effort was palmed away by Cesar, as the Bavarians looked to bounce back straight away.
Inter were able to weather any kind of storm and Cesar was pivotal in their 2-0 victory at the Bernabeu.
Fabian Barthez - MARSEILLE v AC Milan 1993
Manchester United fans will have mixed views towards their French maverick former goalkeeper, Fabian Barthez, but in the first ever Champions League final he was in formidable form.
France are represented by half of the semi-finalists in this year’s competition, but you have to go back to 1993 for the last time their country could boast a Champions League winner.
Facing the giants of AC Milan, Marseille went into the final on the back of an enforced relegation due to match-fixing, but Barthez put in an appropriately heroic display for the unfancied Les Olympiens.
Jean-Pierre Papin missed a great chance in the second half that Barthez threw himself in front of as he played like a man possessed throughout.
Barthez was hailed as the hero of Marseille in the Olympic Stadium in Munich as the French side went onto win 1-0.