Europe’s finest clubs must be rock solid at home if they harbour any hopes of lifting the famous Champions League trophy at the end of the season.
We often hear talk of the electric atmosphere in certain stadiums, and the press loves to wax lyrical about the intimidating atmosphere in places like Istanbul and Belgrade. However, those teams often have poor records. For example, Besiktas lost all three home Champions League games this season, while Europe’s leading lights have frequently trounced Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe in the Turkish capital.
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The teams with the best home records in the Champions League are actually the elite sites that are regularly in the hunt for glory. These are the toughest grounds to play at in the Champions League:
Bayern Munich set a Champions League record by winning 16 home games on the bounce between 2014 and 2017. Their remarkable run at the Allianz Arena began with a 1-0 Champions League group stage win against Man City on 17 September 2014, and it finally came to an end with a 2-1 defeat to eventual winners Real Madrid in the quarter-finals on 12 April 2017.
Bayern’s final win during that run was a 5-1 victory over Arsenal in the Round of 16, underscoring their dominance at the Allianz Arena. They also share a record with Ajax for the most away wins in Champions League history, with seven apiece.
If you go further back into the history books and include the European Cup – which ran from 1955 until it evolved into the Champions League in 1992 – Bayern holds the record for longest unbeaten run. It began in 1969, and Bayern did not lose a home game until 1991, a run of 43 games.
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It remains an extremely difficult ground to visit. Bayern Munich swept aside all three opponents in this season’s group stage, and they are among the favourites in the fixed odds betting to win the tournament.
Lionel Messi fired in a hat-trick to hand Barcelona a 4-0 victory over Ajax at the start of the Champions League group stage in 2013. The Blaugrana would not lose another Champions League home game for more than seven years.
Their remarkable 38-game unbeaten streak at Camp Nou finally came to an end in 2020, when they lost 3-0 to Juventus in the final game of the group stage. However, Barcelona had already wrapped up qualification for the knockout stage of the tournament by that point, so it was not a particularly important game for them.
The club is currently going through a rocky patch after they were plunged into a financial crisis. They failed to qualify for the knockout stage of this season’s competition for the first time in 18 years, but they should bounce back and re-establish themselves as Champions League heavyweights in the not too distant future.
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Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Real Madrid are the most successful team in Champions League and European Cup history. They have taken part in the competition every year since the Champions League era began in 1995, and they have never failed to qualify for the knockout stage.
Los Blancos have more wins than any other team in the tournament’s history, and they have also lifted the trophy more times than their rivals – they have won it 13 times, followed by AC Milan and then Liverpool and Bayern Munich on six apiece.
That is largely a result of their magnificent home record. They won the Champions League three years in a row between 2016 and 2018, and they routinely dismantled European giants at the Bernabéu during that time. Man City, Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid and Juventus all left the Spanish capital empty handed during that time, and Real Madrid remain extremely strong at home.
The atmosphere inside Anfield during Champions League home matches can rival any stadium in the world. It was charged with energy when Liverpool overcame a 3-0 aggregate deficit to thump Barcelona 4-0 in the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
Liverpool went on to beat Spurs in the final, but that victory over a star-studded Barca team was the highlight of the campaign. Liverpool were unbeaten at home the previous season too, as they finished runners-up in the competition, and their overall record at Anfield is magnificent.
This season, they won all three group stage home games in convincing fashion, and they are among the leading contenders for glory.
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In the modern era, the Etihad Stadium has become a nightmare ground for visiting teams. Schalke can attest to that after suffering a 7-0 defeat there in the knockout stage of the 2018-19 season.
Man City are currently on a 10-game winning streak at home in the Champions League. They beat PSG, Club Brugge and RB Leipzig in this season’s Champions League, and they won every home game in last season’s tournament.
They need six more home wins to break Bayern Munich’s record, and they certainly have the quality to pull it off.