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The Miracle of Istanbul

“Scenes like you’ve never seen!” The 2005 Champions League final between Liverpool and Milan has gone down in history as The Miracle of Istanbul, the greatest Champions League final of all time (re-live it here!).

Milan went ahead within the first minute, and they would add another two goals before half time. In the second half, Liverpool did the unthinkable. They came back from the dead to score three goals and send the game to penalties.

Liverpool won the shootout and red confetti coated the pitch of Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium as Steven Gerrard lifted Liverpool’s fifth European Cup.

Fourteen years later, Liverpool would lift the Champions League trophy again after a memorable campaign that had it all—VAR drama, Ajax defeating Real Madrid and Juventus, and two historic semi-final comebacks.

This season’s Champions League final will once again be played in Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium and Liverpool are looking to make it three finals in a row. That thought is not as far-fetched as you might think, seeing as the Reds have drawn a relatively easy group. One team whose draw wasn’t as kind is Slavia Prague, who is in this season’s group of death alongside Barcelona, Inter and Dortmund. Manchester City drew perhaps the easiest group as Pep Guardiola’s side will try to finally win the one trophy that has eluded them for so long.

Will the Ataturk Stadium, nicknamed “hell,” host another incredible final? Will we see another breakout campaign like we saw from Ajax? Will the competition’s all-time top scorer Ronaldo add to his already insane tally of 126 Champions League goals? We will find out when it all starts on September 17.

Illustration by @jamieorrell

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