1999 UEFA Champions League Final
Match programme cover
|Event||1998–99 UEFA Champions League|
|Date||26 May 1999|
|Venue||Camp Nou, Barcelona|
|Referee||Pierluigi Collina (Italy)|
21 °C (70 °F)
The 1999 UEFA Champions League Final was a football match that took place on Wednesday, 26 May 1999. The match was played at Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, to determine the winner of the 1998–99 UEFA Champions League. The final was contested by Manchester United and Bayern Munich. The match is best remembered for Manchester United scoring two last-minute goals in injury time to win 2–1, after having trailed for most of the match.
United's victory was the culmination of their Treble-winning season, after they had already won the FA Premier League and the FA Cup earlier in the month. Bayern were also playing for a Treble of their own, having already won the Bundesliga and earned a spot in the DFB-Pokal final; however, Bayern went on to lose in the final.
Manchester United wore their traditional red shirts, while Bayern Munich donned their grey and burgundy Champions League kit. Referee Pierluigi Collina has cited it as one of the most memorable matches of his career, due to the incredible noise like a "lion's roar" from the crowd at the end of the game.
Manchester United and Bayern Munich had only met twice in competitive matches before the final, both meetings coming earlier in the 1998–99 season and both finished as draws. Manchester United's only other German opponents in their history were Borussia Dortmund, against whom they had an overall winning record, with three wins, two defeats and a draw in their six matches, including a 10–1 aggregate win in the second round of the 1964–65 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and a 2–0 aggregate defeat in the 1996–97 UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Bayern Munich had an equally narrow advantage in their 22 matches against English opposition, with seven wins, nine draws and six defeats, including a win over Leeds United in the 1975 European Cup Final and a defeat to Aston Villa in the 1982 final.
Including the victory over Leeds in 1975, Bayern Munich had won the European Cup on three occasions going into the 1999 final. With three victories in a row from 1974 to 1976, they became only the third team to achieve such a feat after Real Madrid (1956–1960) and Ajax (1971–1973). They had also finished as runners-up twice, in 1982 and 1987. Although Bayern had been waiting 23 years for a European Cup title, Manchester United had had to wait even longer, their only victory having come in 1968.
Although it was the second Champions League season to feature clubs that had not won their national leagues the previous season, Manchester United and Bayern Munich were the first such clubs to reach the final of the competition. Nevertheless, both went into the match as champions, having won their domestic leagues in 1998–99; Bayern Munich claimed the Bundesliga title with a 1–1 draw against Hertha BSC on 9 May with three games to go, while Manchester United left it until the last day of the season (16 May), when they came back from 1–0 down against Tottenham Hotspur to win 2–1 and beat Arsenal to the title by a point. Both teams were also playing for the Treble; in addition to their league win, Manchester United had beaten Newcastle United in the 1999 FA Cup Final on 22 May to claim the Double, while Bayern were due to play Werder Bremen in the 1999 DFB-Pokal Final on 12 June.
Route to the final
|Manchester United||Round||Bayern Munich|
|Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg||Qualifying round||Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg|
|ŁKS Łódź||2–0||2–0 (H)||0–0 (A)||Second qualifying round||Obilić||5–1||4–0 (H)||1–1 (A)|
|Barcelona||3–3 (H)||Matchday 1||Brøndby||1–2 (A)|
|Bayern Munich||2–2 (A)||Matchday 2||Manchester United||2–2 (H)|
|Brøndby||6–2 (A)||Matchday 3||Barcelona||1–0 (H)|
|Brøndby||5–0 (H)||Matchday 4||Barcelona||2–1 (A)|
|Barcelona||3–3 (A)||Matchday 5||Brøndby||2–0 (H)|
|Bayern Munich||1–1 (H)||Matchday 6||Manchester United||1–1 (A)|
|Group D runners-up
|Final standings||Group D winner
|Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg||Knockout stage||Opponent||Agg.||1st leg||2nd leg|
|Internazionale||3–1||2–0 (H)||1–1 (A)||Quarter-finals||Kaiserslautern||6–0||2–0 (H)||4–0 (A)|
|Juventus||4–3||1–1 (H)||3–2 (A)||Semi-finals||Dynamo Kyiv||4–3||3–3 (A)||1–0 (H)|
Venue and ticketing
The Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, was selected as the venue for the final at a meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee in Lisbon, Portugal, on 6 October 1998. The selection process had begun more than four months earlier, in May 1998, when FC Barcelona submitted the Camp Nou as a contender to host the match in recognition of the club's centenary year. The other venues in contention to host the match were London's Wembley Stadium and Marseille's Stade Vélodrome, but the Camp Nou was considered by UEFA's Stadiums Commission to be the favourite for its superior security, comfort and capacity.
The Camp Nou had hosted one previous European Cup final: Italian club Milan's 4–0 victory over Steaua București of Romania in 1989. It had also hosted two Cup Winners' Cup finals, in 1972 and 1982; the latter was won on home turf by Barcelona.
The Camp Nou was constructed over three years from 1954 to 1957 as a replacement for Barcelona's previous home, the nearby Camp de Les Corts, which had reached its limit for expansion. The original capacity of the Camp Nou was just over 93,000, but its first major final, the 1972 Cup Winners' Cup Final, was attended by fewer than 25,000 spectators. 1982 was the stadium's busiest year to date, hosting not only the 1982 Cup Winners' Cup Final, but also five matches at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, including all three matches in Group A of the second group stage and the semi-final between Poland and Italy. By then, the stadium's capacity had been increased to over 120,000.
Three years after hosting its first European Cup final in 1989, the Camp Nou was selected as the principle stadium for the football tournament at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona; it was used as the venue for one group match, two quarter-finals, one semi-final and both medal matches as the host nation, Spain, claimed gold. The following year, the stadium underwent a remodelling that reduced the capacity to around 115,000.
Due to UEFA regulations regarding standing at football matches, the Camp Nou's terraced sections were closed for the 1999 Champions League Final, reducing the capacity to approximately 92,000. Of these, around two-thirds were reserved for the two finalist clubs (approximately 30,000 tickets per team). The remaining third was divided between fans of FC Barcelona (around 7,500 tickets), UEFA, and competition sponsors. Despite the club receiving only 30,000 tickets, it is estimated that more than 50,000 Manchester United fans travelled to Barcelona for the final.
The match ball for the final was the Nike NK 800 Geo, a white ball with a standard 32-panel design. It featured a large "swoosh" across two adjacent hexagonal panels with the Champions League logo on a pentagonal panel above, and a pattern of five-pointed stars over the entire surface of the ball.
The match referee was Pierluigi Collina of the Italy. Collina was promoted to the FIFA International Referees list in 1995, and took charge of his first UEFA Cup matches in the 1995–96 season. He had only refereed eight Champions League matches before the 1999 final, three of which came in the group stage earlier in the season, including the match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou on 4 November 1998; however, he had also taken charge of four matches at the 1996 Summer Olympics, including the final between Nigeria and Argentina, and two group stage matches at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Prior to kick-off, opera singer Montserrat Caballé – moving around the field on the back of a golf cart – performed "Barcelona" live, accompanied by a recording of the late rock singer Freddie Mercury, which appeared on the stadium's electronic screen. The opening ceremony featured inflatable versions of some of Barcelona's most recognisable landmarks, as well as flag-bearers waving flags of the crests of the participating teams. Bayern Munich's fans, meanwhile, created a mosaic of the name of their team with thousands of coloured cards.
Manchester United captain Roy Keane and midfielder Paul Scholes both missed out on the final due to suspension, resulting in manager Alex Ferguson selecting David Beckham to join Nicky Butt in centre midfield, with Ryan Giggs on the right wing and Jesper Blomqvist starting on the left. Keane had suffered an injury in the FA Cup final that would keep him out until the start of the following season, but his suspension rendered the injury irrelevant to his selection. Norwegian defender Henning Berg also missed out through injury, meaning that his compatriot Ronny Johnsen – who had been an early contender to play alongside Butt in midfield – played in central defence alongside Jaap Stam, who overcame an Achilles injury. With Keane out, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was named as captain for his final Manchester United appearance. As Manchester United's top two goalscorers throughout the season, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke started up front, leaving Teddy Sheringham – who had played a part in both goals in the FA Cup Final a few days earlier – on the bench. Also on the bench were fellow striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær, back-up goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw, defenders David May, Phil Neville and Wes Brown, and midfielder Jonathan Greening.
Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld announced his team's line-up for the final two full days ahead of the match. Injuries also impacted on his selections, with French left-back Bixente Lizarazu and Brazilian forward Giovane Élber suffering season-ending knee injuries. Élber's absence resulted in Bayern playing a three-man attack of Mario Basler, Carsten Jancker and Alexander Zickler, while Lizarazu was replaced by Michael Tarnat playing in a wing-back role opposite Markus Babbel on the right. Babbel was originally intended to play a man-marking role on Ryan Giggs, with his defensive abilities earning him selection ahead of the more attack-minded Thomas Strunz; however, this was nullified by Giggs' selection on the right wing, where he would play against Tarnat. The Bayern defence was anchored around sweeper Lothar Matthäus, who played behind Thomas Linke and Ghana international Samuel Kuffour – the only non-German in the Bayern side (by comparison, Manchester United had four Englishmen, one Welshman and one Irishman in their team). Stefan Effenberg and Jens Jeremies played in central midfield for Bayern, with Jeremies man-marking David Beckham. The midfield width was provided by forward runs from Tarnat and Babbel.
Six minutes into the match, Ronny Johnsen fouled Bayern striker Carsten Jancker just outside the area, and Mario Basler placed a low free kick around the United wall to score the first goal. Contrary to popular belief, the free kick was not a deflection, but rather swerved into the far bottom corner of Peter Schmeichel's goal. Despite the bad start, United began to dominate possession but failed to create any clear cut chances despite David Beckham's tireless running. They seemed to be badly missing influential midfielders Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. The Bayern defence remained strong and well organised, as Andy Cole found out when his close-range effort was quickly closed down by three defenders. As Bayern began to look increasingly more dangerous on the counter-attack than their opponents did in possession, Jancker repeatedly tested the United back four with a number of clever runs, some of which were flagged offside.
Cole once again found himself with a chance in the Bayern box, but keeper Oliver Kahn hurried out of his goal to punch the ball to safety. At the other end, Basler came close with another free kick before Alexander Zickler sent a shot just wide from the edge of the box. As half time approached, United winger Ryan Giggs, playing out of position on the right, sent a weak header towards Kahn from a Cole cross, but that was as close as they were to come to a goal in the first half.
The German team started the second half in a more positive mood with Jancker forcing a save from Schmeichel in the first minute of the restart. Basler was proving to be Bayern's most dangerous player, first firing a 30-yard shot towards goal and then setting up a header for Markus Babbel, who missed the ball entirely. United put together an attack when, after a healthy period of possession, Giggs sent in a cross towards Jesper Blomqvist who could only knock the ball over the bar after a desperate stretch. Another chance for Basler prompted Alex Ferguson to bring on striker Teddy Sheringham. Ottmar Hitzfeld responded with a substitution of his own, bringing on Mehmet Scholl, who immediately set up Stefan Effenberg for a long-range shot which went narrowly wide. Schmeichel kept his side in the game when tipping another Effenberg shot over the bar after 75 minutes. Scholl then almost scored from a delicate 20-yard chip after a run from Basler, but the ball bounced back off the post and into the arms of a relieved Schmeichel. With the game seemingly drifting away from the English side, Ferguson introduced striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær with 10 minutes remaining. The substitute immediately forced Kahn into a diving save with a header; it was the closest United had come to scoring all game. A minute later, Bayern missed a chance to secure the trophy when an overhead kick from Jancker came off the crossbar. As the game crept into the last five minutes, United's two substitutes forced Kahn into more saves, firstly through a Sheringham volley and then from another Solskjær header.
United won a corner just as the fourth official indicated three minutes of injury time, and with so little time left for an equaliser, Peter Schmeichel ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, Dwight Yorke put the ball back towards the crowded area, and after Thorsten Fink failed to clear sufficiently, the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs on the edge of the area. His right-footed snap-shot was weak and poorly struck, but it went straight to Sheringham, who swiped at the shot with his right foot, and nestled the ball in the bottom corner of the net. The goal was timed at 90:36. It looked as if, having been behind for most of the match, United had forced extra time.
Less than 30 seconds after the subsequent kick-off, United forced another corner, but Schmeichel stayed in his penalty area this time under instruction from Ferguson. Beckham again swung the corner in, finding the head of Sheringham, who nodded the ball down across the face of goal. Solskjær reacted fastest, shot out a foot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern goal for United to take the lead. The goal was timed at 92:17. Solskjær celebrated by sliding on his knees, mimicking Basler's earlier celebration, before quickly being mobbed by the United players, substitutes and coaching staff. Schmeichel, in his own penalty area, cartwheeled with glee.
The game restarted, but many Bayern players were overwhelmed with despair, virtually unable to continue and needed the assistance of referee Pierluigi Collina to drag themselves off the ground. They were stunned to have lost a game they had thought won just minutes before (several celebratory flares had already been ignited by the Munich fans moments before United equalised, and Bayern Munich ribbons had already been secured to the trophy itself in preparation for the presentation ceremony). United held onto their lead to record their second European Cup title. Samuel Kuffour broke down in tears after the game, beating the floor in despair, and even the giant Carsten Jancker had collapsed in anguish. Matthäus had captained Bayern in the 1987 European Cup Final and lost in similar circumstances to two late Porto goals. He had been substituted with 10 minutes remaining, with victory seemingly assured, and the European Cup was the only major trophy he had failed to win during his career.
When the trophy was presented to Manchester United, the captain on the night, Peter Schmeichel, who had just finished his final match for the club, and manager Alex Ferguson raised the trophy together.
26 May 1999
|Manchester United||2–1||Bayern Munich|
The game's ending was so unexpected that UEFA President Lennart Johansson had left his seat in the stands before Sheringham's equaliser to make his way down to the pitch in order to present the European Cup trophy, already decorated with Bayern ribbons. When emerging from the tunnel at the final whistle, he was stunned. "I can't believe it," he later said, "The winners are crying and the losers are dancing." When the two teams went to collect their medals, television viewers around the world watched as Matthäus removed his runners-up medal, almost before he received it. He never won the competition, having moved to play in the United States for the MetroStars Major League Soccer team before Bayern next won the European Cup in 2001. Matthäus later commented that "it was not the best team that won but the luckiest".
In winning the trophy, Manchester United became the first English team to be crowned European champions since the Heysel ban in 1985, and also the first team to achieve a unique treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and European Cup in the same season. After becoming the first manager to achieve this honour, Alex Ferguson received a knighthood on 12 June 1999 in recognition of his services to the game of football. In the post-match interview, Ferguson produced his now legendary summary of the game: "Football; bloody hell". The final also signalled Peter Schmeichel's final game for Manchester United after eight years with the club.
The game attracted an average of 15 million viewers on British television with a peak audience of 19 million in injury time. The climax of the game was voted as the fourth-greatest sporting moment ever by Channel 4 viewers in a poll in early 2002.
Manchester United became the first team to win the European Cup or Champions League without being the champions of Europe or champions of their country the preceding season. They had finished second in the 1997–98 season to Arsenal, but had qualified through UEFA's expanded format, which had been introduced a few seasons earlier. Had Bayern won the cup, they would have become the first team to achieve this feat, having also finished second in the Bundesliga to Kaiserslautern the season before.
After the treble was secured, much debate arose among English football fans as to whether the 1999 Manchester United team was the greatest club side ever, alongside past European Cup-winning teams.
United's treble was the first since that of PSV Eindhoven in 1988. The Treble would not be won again until Barcelona beat United in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final to complete their own Treble 10 years later.
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- The Quotes
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- Television spies a view to a kill
- "Are Man Utd the best ever club side?". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 4 June 1999. Retrieved 7 July 2012.