With Barcelona and Juventus suffering Champions League exits at the last 16 stage following defeats to PSG and Porto, European football’s most prestigious club football competition will be without both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time in 16 years.
The pair have become synonymous with the Champions League, winning a combined nine European titles and sending goalscoring records tumbling.
You have to wind your clocks all the way back to 5 April 2005 for the last time the Champions League last eight featured neither Ronaldo or Messi. (Is This the Way to) Amarillo was flying high in the UK charts, Andy Johnson was flying high in the Premier League goalscoring charts and Middlesbrough and Bolton were both challenging for European football. It was a simpler time.
Messi’s Barcelona and Ronaldo’s Manchester United had both progressed to the Champions League last 16 having finished second in their qualifying groups. Messi was just 17 at the time and on the fringes of the Barça first team. He made his debut in the competition during the 2004/05 Champions League group stages against Shakhtar Donetsk – his only appearance in the competition that season.
Ronaldo was 20 and in his second season at United following his move from Sporting CP. He played in seven of the Red Devils’ eight Champions League fixtures that term, but failed to find the net.
Barcelona would crash out to Chelsea over the course of two legs in the last 16, winning 2-1 at Camp Nou before a late John Terry header earned the Blues a 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge.
United and Ronaldo meanwhile were knocked out by Milan thanks to a Hernan Crespo strike in the home and away legs.
As a result, the quarter final lineup consisted of Milan, Inter (who knocked out defending champions Porto), Lyon (who had beaten Werder Bremen 10-2 on aggregate in the last 16), PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Juventus.
Milan comfortably got the better of rivals Inter with a 5-0 quarter final victory – PSV progressed past Lyon via spot kicks, Liverpool edged past Juventus and Chelsea played out another two-legged thriller with a 6-5 aggregate victory over Bayern.
Frank Lampard netted a brace in an entertaining 4-2 first leg victory at Stamford Bridge, with Jose Mourinho supposedly not present after being handed a two-game ban from the touchline and dressing room for making accusations about referee Anders Frisk during their last 16 victory over Barcelona.
Goodness how he’s grown….
However, the Chelsea boss famously got around the ban and was still able to give his side their pre-match team talk by waiting in the dressing room from midday and then hiding in a laundry basket as the Chelsea kit man smuggled him out at full time.
The Blues’ 2004/05 Champions League journey finally came to an end at the hands of Liverpool in the semi finals thanks to Luis Garcia’s infamous ghost goal. The Reds then staged a remarkable comeback victory over Milan in the final in Istanbul as they were crowned champions of Europe for a fifth time in the most dramatic of circumstances.
A miracle 3-3 draw in the final, a semi final ghost goal and Jose Mourinho hiding in a laundry basket? Perhaps we don’t need Messi and Ronaldo after all…
Alexa, play (Is This the Way to) Amarillo.