The Champions League is the pinnacle of club football in Europe, with clubs that have won it being elevated to a position of respect within the game. When Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City, his domestic success was seen as important, but it wasn’t until he’d won the Champions League with them that it was felt that he’d really pushed the club into the upper echelons of football. Yes, his achievement was somewhat tainted by the 115 charges that City faced from the Premier League and the fact that UEFA would’ve punished them further if things had not been time-barred, but it was the Champions League success that mattered.
We know that some clubs are more successful than others, but what about cities? After all, there are often more than one club that plays in a specific city, so are some more successful than others on the European stage? Given the sheer number of clubs that play in London, for example, you would assume that there are more than a few Champions League winning sides that play there. How does the English capital compare to the capital of Spain? Are there some cities in France that are more successful than others? Taking a look at the information by city might give us some clues about where the real powerhouses of football play.
Quick Answer: Which City has the Most Champions League/European Cup Wins?
Between the first European Cup Final in 1955-56 and the latest Champions League Final in 2022-23, Madrid has the most wins of any city with 14, all of which were won by Real Madrid. The second best city is Milan with 10, seven of which were for AC Milan and three for Inter Milan.
The most successful English city is Liverpool, which is joint third with six wins all by Liverpool FC. It is two ahead of north-west rival Manchester which has four titles, three for United and one for City.
Looking at the Winning Cities
The Champions League might well have begun life in 1992, but that was only because it was re-branded with its new name and a new format. Prior to that, the competition was known as the Coupe des Clubs Champions Européens, or the European Cup in English, and we will be looking at both versions of the competition together. Here are the Champions League and European Cup winning cities, and how many clubs have been responsible for those wins:
The most interesting thing that you can see immediately from looking at the table is the fact that even though London as a city has more major football clubs than any other, it has only won the Champions League and European Cup twice at the time of writing. Not only that, but the competition was won by the same team both times, Chelsea. In terms of rivalry stakes, Liverpool as a city won more than Manchester, with Liverpool Football Club having won more Champions Leagues and European Cups than both Manchester City and Manchester United combined, in spite of Everton never winning it. Equally, Madrid has won more than Barcelona.
The success of Real Madrid is unprecedented, with the Spanish club having won fourteen Champions Leagues and European Cups, seven more than the next best team. In fact, all of the English teams combined (Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Aston Villa) have fifteen wins in the final, only one more than Real Madrid on their own. This highlights the dominance enjoyed by the Spanish side especially during the early years of the competition’s existence. The other interesting point that you will note is that the only French city that has a team to have won the Champions League or European Cup is Marseille, with the French capital of Paris being notably absent in spite of the riches of Paris Saint-Germain.
We know, then, that Madrid is the most successful city in the history of the Champions League and European Cup, but what about runners-up? Does it result in any other cities being added to the list?
There are a wealth of new cities that join the list when we look at runners-up, but there’s a familiar look to the teams at the top. Two Italian cities in Milan and Turin both have had seven losing finalists between 1955-56 and 2022-23. Juventus represent all of Turin’s final defeats and can arguably be thought of as the competition’s most unlucky side, though they do have two victories. Milan’s seven runners-up place are split between AC Milan with four and Inter Milan with three.
Madrid are only third on this list with six runners-up. Real Madrid are responsible for three of those with Atlético Madrid also runners-up on three occasions. Liverpool have both the most wins (six) and most losses (four) of all the English teams in Champions League and European Cup Finals.
Interestingly, although London can be considered under-represented on the winners list, the city has three clubs who have been runners-up in Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. This is more than any other city.
Perhaps the ultimate measure of a city’s European success should be how often they have a representative in the big game. Below we have sorted cities by the total number of finalists that they have been responsible for.
It is no surprise to see Madrid out in front again with twenty finals, three clear of Milan who have seventeen. Munich, specifically Bayern Munich, are third on the list with eleven finals, followed by Liverpool with ten.
What About the Champions League Era Only?
Whilst the Champions League and the European Cup are essentially the same competition, it is only right to point out that many people are interested in only the re-branded version of Europe’s premier competition. There is a sense for many that a number of Real Madrid’s early wins in the European Cup can barely be considered worthy of counting, considering the level of opposition that they faced at the time. With this in mind, does the most successful city change at all?
Here is a look at the table when we only look at the Champions League era, which began with the 1992-1993 campaign:
When we look specifically at the Champions League era, there are some noteworthy details to point out. Madrid remains firmly at the top of the pile as the most successful club, having won the trophy eight times since the 1992-1993 season. In the rivalry stakes, the Spanish capital remains well ahead of Barcelona, whilst Manchester sneaks ahead of Liverpool, with Milan being more successful than Turin. The changes are slight compared to when the European Cup is included, but still reasonably interesting to look at.
Having looked at the Champions League era only in terms of wins, it is only right that we also look at runners-up as we did with the combination of the European Cup and Champions League. Here is a look at the table for the performances of cities since 1992-1993; are there any many changes or new cities that join the list, or is Europe’s premier competition something of a closed shop in the modern era of the tournament?
As with our previous runners-up table, it is the two Italian cities of Turin and Milan and the top but here it is Turin and Juventus with one runners-up medal more than their northern Italian rival city. Liverpool, London, Manchester and Munich are all locked together with three losing finalists each.
You can see with both Champions League only lists that there are far fewer teams represented, are there less shocks in the modern game?
As we have with the combined Champions League and European Cup, we can also look at finalist by city since the Champion league rebrand in 1992-93.
The first thing to note is the success of Milan as a city once you include both the winners of the Champions League and the runners-up in the competition. That is largely thanks to the success of AC Milan in the modern era of the tournament, with their three wins and three losses in the final, though Inter Milan have also won once and lost once during the same time period. When looking at finalists, Milan is just two behind Madrid, which is no shame when you consider the overall success of Real Madrid. It is Madrid that remains the most successful city, however, with Real Madrid winning the competition all eight times that they made the final. Atlético Madrid, meanwhile, were losing finalists twice.
Liverpool as a city is level London with five finals in total, in spite of the fact that only one Merseyside club made the Champions League final compared to three from the capital. Since 1992-93 it is Manchester that is the most successful English city when it comes to finals, with a total of six, four for United and two for City.