Most Successful Clubs To Have Never Won The UCL

For any player or club in Europe, winning the UEFA Champions League is the ultimate goal. Following PSG’s recent elimination from the Champions League, we will look at the most successful clubs to have never won the Champions League.

3. Atlético Madrid

La Liga club Atlético Madrid has gotten close to Champions League glory three times in their history. No other club has gotten to as many finals without ever winning the prestigious title.

Domestically, they are the third most successful Spanish club, with 10 La Liga titles. Ever since Diego Simeone was appointed as head coach in the 2011/12 season, he has kept the club as one of the best in Spain. In his first season, Atlético Madrid was fifth in the league. In all the following seasons, Madrid has always finished in the top four of La Liga.

They have won two La Liga titles under the Argentinian, the most recent one being in the 2020/21 season. Atletico Madrid have also won four European titles under Simeone – UEFA Europa League (2) and the UEFA Super Cup (2). The Champions League however has seemingly avoided the Madrid club, with Simeone losing 2 finals.

In the 2013/14 season, after facing AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea in the Round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals respectively, it was a Madrid derby for the Champions League final. Atlético Madrid had the lead early into the game, with Real Madrid falling to find the back of the net up until stoppage time. After Sergio Ramos’ late equalizer, the game went to stoppage time where Real Madrid scored three further goals.

In the 2015/16 season, after facing PSV, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knockout phase, it was yet another Madrid derby for the Champions League final. This time around, the game went to penalties, and Atlético Madrid lost 5-3.

This season, Atleti played in an exciting quarterfinal over two legs against Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund knocked out the Spanish club 5-4 on aggregate. Should Atlético secure yet another top 4 finish in La Liga this season, they will have another attempt at the club football’s most prestigious award in Europe.

2. Paris Saint-Germain

France’s most successful club in domestic football is Paris Saint-Germain with 12 Ligue 1 titles, including this season’s latest triumph. 10 of their Ligue 1 titles have come in the past 13 years.

Despite such great domestic success, PSG has only once gotten to the Champions League finals (2019/20), when they were under Thomas Tuchel. They faced Bayern Munich, losing 1-0. Football legend Lionel Messi later joined the incredible duo of Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Júnior, but PSG were unable to reach the finals.

In the season before Messi joined the French powerhouse, they went as far as the semifinals. During Messi’s time at the club, the team with the best front three in the world at the time were knocked out of the Round of 16. In the 2021/22 season, it was 3-2 on aggregate against Real Madrid, and in the 2022/23 season, it was 3-0 on aggregate against Bayern Munich.

In the 2023/24 season, in the group stage, PSG were second, going through on goal difference. In the round of 16 against Real Sociedad, the French team had a comfortable 4-1 win on aggregate. They faced Barcelona in the quarterfinals, losing the first leg. PSG however went through 6-4 on aggregate, following a very entertaining quarterfinal fixture.

Of the teams through to the semifinals – PSG, Real Madrid, Dortmund and Bayern Munich – PSG and Real Madrid were the favourites to win the prestigious title. PSG, however, lost both legs of their semifinals against 1-0 Dortmund. Messi and Neymar left the club in the summer of 2023, and Mbappé will be leaving at the end of this season. The last of PSG’s best chances of winning the Champions League in the near future seems to be walking away.

1. Arsenal

Despite only being in a Champions League final only once (2006), they are the most popular club to have never conquered Europe. This is due to their domestic pedigree. Arsenal are the third-most successful English club in domestic football. To this day, Arsenal remains the only one of the original English ‘big four’ clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United – to have never won the Champions League.

As Premier League runners-up behind London rivals Chelsea in the 2004/05 season, Arsenal qualified for the Champions League. They did well in the competition, advancing all the way to the final where they faced Barcelona. Despite going into the second half ahead of the Spanish side, Arsenal ultimately lost the game 2-1.

Arsenal was once regulars in Europe’s most prestigious competition, however, between the 2016/17 and 2022/23 seasons, Arsenal steered clear of top 4 finishes. These past two seasons, however, Arsenal have been in their best form since the 2004/05 season.

After finishing as runners-up behind Manchester City in the Premier League last season, the Gunners were back in the Champions League. The London team went as far as the quarterfinals where they faced German club Bayern Munich, drawing in the first leg, and losing in the second.

Arsenal is currently top of the Premier League table and has secured a Champions League spot for the 2024/25 season. Whether Arsenal will be able to lift the prestigious trophy for the first time in their history is a tale that has been yet again pushed to a further timeline.

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