KIEV, Ukraine, May 24 – Real Madrid can become the first side in 42 years to win three consecutive European Cups when the Spanish giants take on Liverpool in Saturday’s Champions League final.
Moreover, victory in Kiev would secure Madrid’s fourth European crown in five seasons.
Here, AFP Sports looks at other great sides that dominated Europe to see how Zinedine Zidane’s men compare:
Real Madrid (1955-1960)
Madrid call themselves the “Kings of Europe” and the feeling this competition is their own was born out of winning the first five European Cups.
Spearheaded by legendary Argentine striker Alfredo di Stefano, Madrid came from 2-0 down to beat Stade de Reims 4-3 in the first final.
Italian opposition in AC Milan and Fiorentina were then dispatched in the next two finals before Reims again were conquered in 1959.
The peak of Real’s reign came in the 1960 final when Eintracht Frankfurt were thrashed 7-3 at Glasgow’s Hampden Park with Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas scoring hat-tricks in what is widely regarded as on the best performances in the competition’s history.
Ajax became the next side to win three consecutive European Cups in the early 70s inspired by coach Rinus Michels’s conception of “Total Football” where players interchanged positions in pioneering style, and the brilliance of Johann Cruyff.
Although Michels was only in charge for Ajax’s first title in 1971 against Panathinaikos, his philosophy was carried on by Cruyff with the high point his two goals that beat Inter Milan in the 1972 final.
Another title followed as Juventus were edged out before Cruyff left to forge another legacy as player and coach at Barcelona.
Bayern Munich (1973-1976)
The last side to do three-in-a-row were Franz Beckenbauer’s Bayern as Dutch dominance gave way to a spell of German success.
Unlike Ajax, Bayern didn’t enthral the continent, though, and had significant chunks of good fortune along the way.
Atletico Madrid led their 1974 final until the final minute of extra-time when Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck levelled to send the final to a replay that Bayern romped 4-0.
Bayern beat Leeds United 2-0 in the final the following year before breaking St. Etienne’s hearts at Hampden Park 1-0 to complete the hat-trick.
The French side twice hit the woodwork in a match that became known “the square posts” as St. Etienne believed the oddly shaped crossbar contributed to their defeat.
In contrast to Saturday’s clash, when Liverpool met Real Madrid in the 1981 final, it was the English side who were in the midst of a dominant run.
Under Bob Paisley, Liverpool won the European Cup three times in five seasons culminating in victory over Madrid after beating Borussia Monchengladbach and Club Brugge in 1977 and 1978.
“We weren’t afraid of them, the opposite in fact. We’d been in the final a few times, knew what it was about. They were the inexperienced ones,” Liverpool great Terry McDermott, who won all three finals, told AFP this week.
A final flourish for many of that squad came three years later by beating Roma on home soil on penalties for a fourth European crown.
In contrast to their eternal rivals, Barcelona’s success in Europe’s premier club competition was limited to one victory until the turn of the century.
A second title inspired by Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o came in 2006 against 10-man Arsenal, but it was Pep Guardiola’s four-year spell in charge between 2008-2012 that is remembered as one of the greatest sides ever.
Sidelined by injury and team selection two years earlier, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez combined to dazzle a highly-fancied Manchester United 2-0 to complete a treble in Guardiola’s first season.
United were the victims once more for arguably the best display of Guardiola’s reign in a 3-1 win to lift the trophy again two years later at Wembley.
The core of that side remained even after Guardiola’s departure and with the firepower of Luis Suarez and Neymar added to compliment Messi, Barca did the treble again in 2015 for a fifth European crown.