Will Madrid end Champions League holders' curse?

It is one of the more remarkable pieces of football trivia: no team has ever won back-to-back titles in the UEFA Champions League era. Real Madrid are now just one game away.

Sergio Ramos leads Real Madrid's celebrations in 2016
Sergio Ramos leads Real Madrid's celebrations in 2016 ©AFP/Getty Images

If Real Madrid – who reached the final at Atlético's expense on Wednesday – are to lift the trophy in Cardiff on 3 June they will spoil one of the more remarkable pieces of football trivia: no team has won back-to-back titles in the UEFA Champions League era (1992/93 onwards).

Close calls

Four clubs defending the trophy have made it all the way to the final, only to come off second best:
1994/95: AC Milan lost 1-0 v Ajax
1995/96: Ajax lost 4-2 on penalties v Juventus
1996/97: Juventus lost 3-1 v Dortmund
2009/10: Manchester United lost 3-1 v Barcelona

Highlights: Milan are the last team to retain the European Cup
Highlights: Milan are the last team to retain the European Cup

European Cup

It was a very different story in the early days of the competition: Madrid won the first five editions! Seven other sides also successfully defended their title pre-1992/93: Benfica, Internazionale Milano, Ajax (twice), Bayern (twice), Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and AC Milan.

Successful defences

European Cup era: 13/37
UEFA Champions League era: 0/24

How holders have fared*

Season Team Stage
1992/93 Barcelona second round
1994/95 AC Milan runners-up
1995/96 Ajax runners-up
1996/97 Juventus runners-up
1997/98 Dortmund semi-finals
1998/99 Madrid quarter-final
1999/2000 Man. United quarter-finals
2000/01 Madrid semi-finals
2001/02 Bayern quarter-finals
2002/03 Madrid semi-finals
2003/04 AC Milan quarter-finals
2004/05 Porto round of 16
2005/06 Liverpool round of 16
2006/07 Barcelona round of 16
2007/08 AC Milan round of 16
2008/09 Man. United runners-up
2009/10 Barcelona semi-finals
2010/11 Inter quarter-finals
2011/12 Barcelona semi-finals
2012/13 Chelsea group stage
2013/14 Bayern semi-finals
2014/15 Madrid semi-finals
2015/16 Barcelona quarter-finals

*Marseille were barred from entering in 1993/94