UEFA look set to introduce a third European club competition to compete with the Champions League and Europa League, it has been confirmed.
Andrea Agnelli, who is both Juventus president and European Club Association chairman, made the announcement to its members at a meeting on Tuesday. To many, however, the idea of a third European competition is nothing new.
From 1960 — when Fiorentina beat Rangers in a two-legged final — to Lazio’s victory over Real Mallorca in 1999, we had the Cup Winners’ Cup. A prestigious competition which pitted the winners of domestic cup competitions against one another in a straight knockout competition for a major honour; and the opportunity to face the Champions League winners in the UEFA Super Cup.
The quality of that Lazio team which closed off the competition highlighted just how highly it was regarded. Sven-Goran Eriksson had stars like Alessandro Nesta, Christian Vieri and Pavel Nedved at his disposal for that final in Birmingham, and the Biancocelesti beat European champions Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup later that summer.
And, for some of Europe’s biggest clubs, it still holds a glorious — or miserable — place in their history. ESPN FC takes a look at them in alphabetical order here.
In 1994, Alan Smith’s goal was enough to beat Parma and clinch Arsenal’s only European honour. A year later, they would reach the final again, only to lose against Real Zaragoza in the last seconds thanks to Nayim’s long-range effort.
Real Madrid may be the kings of the Champions League, but when it comes to the Cup Winners’ Cup, it’s Barca who reign supreme. Their four titles — the last of which was won by a solitary Ronaldo goal in 1997 — is double that of anyone else’s tally. They even allowed for a defeat to Slovan Bratislava in the 1969 final.
Following that 1997 final, Ronaldo would retain his FIFA World Player of the Year award, win his first Ballon d’Or and become the planet’s most expensive football for the second time in the space of 12 months when he joined Inter Milan for £19.5 million.
Immediately after gaining promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965, they won the domestic cup; and in 1967 added their first European trophy in the Cup Winners’ Cup. Dominance followed.
Two-time winners, but it was the 1998 victory which was truly special. It heralded the dawn of the first successful team with a rarely-before-seen cosmopolitan outlook in English football. With Gianluca Vialli as player-manager, the team included Frank Leboeuf, Gus Poyet, Tore-Andre Flo and Gianfranco Zola, who scored the winner within a minute of coming on.
City won their only European honour in 1970 — 38 years before they were bought by Sheik Mansour. Two years earlier, they’d won the English top flight title.
Long before he was Sir Alex, Ferguson was without a trophy as United boss and his job looked in peril. But an FA Cup win in 1990 was followed victory in the Cup Winners’ Cup — the club’s first European trophy since 1968 — as they defeated Barcelona 2-1 in Rotterdam, and they never looked back.
One of the biggest teams in Europe, but not necessarily in France. Bruno N’Gotty’s goal handed them victory over Rapid Vienna in 1996 and earned them their only European trophy.
It’s the one trophy missing from their illustrious cabinet. They’ve been to two finals — against Chelsea in 1971 and Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in 1983 — but lost them both.
Victory over Benfica in 1963 saw Spurs become English football’s first winners of a major European trophy. It also brought their haul to four trophies in three years in one of English football’s most competitive eras, following on from back-to-back Division One titles and an FA Cup — culminating in the 1961 Double — under Bill Nicholson.