For the first time in a decade, neither Real Madrid nor Juventus have made the Champions League quarter-finals, but back in 2017, the pair were UCL finalists when they collided in Cardiff.
Ultimately, Real cruised to victory—clinching a 4-1 triumph as Juve lost their fifth final in a row—and denied Kwadwo Asamoah the chance to become Ghana’s fifth Champions League winner.
The versatile wideman, like teammate Medhi Benatia, didn’t get off the bench during the one-sided encounter, although Gabon midfielder Mario Lemina was introduced as a 78th-minute substitute as the Old Lady looked to turn things around at the death.
A finalist last year, Wanyama was hoping to follow in the footsteps of his brother McDonald Mariga, who was a European champion with Internazionale in 2011.
Big Vic had featured in Tottenham Hotspur’s run to the final, although after a sub-par showing against Ajax in the semi-final, he was resigned to the bench for the final.
Mauricio Pochettino ultimately preferred Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko in midfield for the final against Liverpool—a match in which Spurs appeared jaded—and didn’t turn to Wanyama after the Londoners fell behind early.
The Kenya powerhouse left Spurs midway through the 2019-20 season when he signed for Montreal Impact.
Serge Aurier was also an unused substitute in the 2019 final.
2004 threw up an unlikely Champions League final, as AS Monaco faced FC Porto in a showpiece bout that would see Jose Mourinho crowned as the Special One.
Both sides had African interest, with Benni McCarthy coming off the bench for Porto, and Tony Sylva, Shabani Nonda and Adebayor all on the bench for the club of the Principality.
Ade didn’t get off the bench as Monaco were defeated 3-0 in a fairly one-sided contest, and that was as close as he came to winning the big one.
Despite representing some of Europe’s biggest clubs in Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Real Madrid, the Togo striker never conquered the continent, and was cup-tied for the Gunners’ final against Barcelona in 2006.
One player who did feature in that 2006 final was Arsenal defender Kolo Toure, who played the full 90 minutes alongside compatriot Emmanuel Eboue as the Londoners pushed Barcelona close.
It was a memorable final, with the Londoners taking the lead through Sol Campbell in the first half, but found themselves a man down for over 70 minutes after losing Jens Lehmann to a red card.
Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti struck late as Barca turned the contest around at the Stade de France to break Arsenal’s hearts and deny Kolo the chance to be the Ivory Coast’s first UCL winner.
His brother Yaya would ultimately become the Elephants’ first European champion with Barca three years later.
The only African player on this list who’s in with a shout of winning this year’s competition, Partey has already reached the UCL final before, and knows what it takes to reach the biggest match in the European football calendar.
Back in 2016, Atletico Madrid and Real went toe to toe in an all-Spanish final, with Los Merengues winning the bout on penalties when Juanfran fluffed his lines.
Partey was on the pitch at this point, having been introduced for Koke in the 116th minute of a gruelling contest.
Like Asamoah, he too missed out on following in the footsteps of Abedi Pele, Sammy Kuffour and Michael Essien, although Diego Simeone’s side are among the favourites to clinch this year’s title.
Could the Ghana powerhouse—heavily linked with a move to Arsenal—end his time in Madrid with Europe’s biggest prize?
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