The Unforgettable 2008 Champions League Final

Published by Chris Jenkins
31st Mar 2023

Over the years, Manchester United has had some fantastic teams, particularly under Sir Alex Ferguson. Though this particular topic of often debated - one particular Red Devil squad that is often brought up as one of the greats is the 2008 side. With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Edwin Van Der Sar, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney to name a few - it's not hard to see why. Even unsung heroes such as Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick were pivotal components of this team. That’s why in our latest blog, we will look back at this side, particularly the unforgettable 2008 Champions League Final against Chelsea.


The Manchester 2007/08 Squad:

As alluded to in the opening, the Manchester 2007/08 squad was nothing short of spectacular - boasting some of the world's best footballers across each position. To highlight the key starting XI - they had:

  • GK: Edwin Van Der Sar
  • RB: Wesley Brown
  • CB: Rio Ferdinand
  • CB: Nemanja Vidic
  • LB: Patrice Evra
  • RM: Ryan Giggs
  • CM: Michael Carrick
  • CM: Paul Scholes
  • LM: Cristiano Ronaldo
  • ST: Carlos Tevez
  • ST: Wayne Rooney

Not to mention some unbelievable players United had on the substitute bench such as Nani, Owen Hargreaves, Darren Fletcher, Ji-sun Park, and Gary Neville among others. Now that we know the key pieces of the team how did their domestic season fair?


The Domestic Side of the 07/08 Season for United:

It’s quite poetic considering that the first game of the season for United was a cup final against Chelsea - though for the Community Shield. Similarly to their Champions, this too resulted in a penalty shootout after drawing 1-1. Alas, Ferguson’s were able to win the shootout in convincing fashion as it finished 3-0. This meant that their first fixture of the season resulted in silverware - but was the rest of the season just as fruitful? In short, yes.

Manchester United was able to lift the Premier League having accumulated 87 points - two more than Chelsea’s 85. Despite the points difference being so short, it's unmistakable that the red devils deserved their Premier League title - given the fact that their goal difference ended at +58 compared to Chelsea’s +39.

Despite their Premier League success, their FA Cup venture ultimately fell short within the sixth round as they lost 1-0 to Portsmouth who ultimately won the competition - besting Cardiff City with a goal in the 37th minute thanks to a goal by Kanu.

The same could be said in the Football League Cup (now known as the Carabao Cup) given they have been eliminated from the third round by Coventry City thanks to a brace by Michael Mifsud. Granted, the 07/08 season was primarily memorable for Manchester United’s venture into the Champions League.


Manchester United In The Champions League:

For the draw, Manchester United found themselves in Group F with the likes of Roma, Sporting CP and Dynamo Kyiv. During the 6 games, Manchester United finished the group stage with 16 points, an impressive 5 points behind Roma.

Upon progressing out of the Group Stage and into the Round of 16, Manchester United drew Lyon in which the 1st leg ended 1-1. Leading to an exhilarating 2nd leg victory for United. Following this, Manchester United drew Roma in the Quarter-Finals with the Red Devils comfortably winning both legs (2-0 in the first and 1-0 in the second leg). Things are looking more convincing that Manchester United will lift the Champions League following a stunning two-game fair against Barcelona who was considered to be one of the best teams in the world at that point.

Once the news broke out that Chelsea bested Liverpool in added time during their second leg fixture, the stage was set - Manchester United vs. Chelsea in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final at the amazing Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Regarding the starting XI for both sides - they were:

Man Utd Started XI:

  • GK: Van Der Sar
  • RB: Wes Brown
  • CB: Rio Ferdinand
  • CB: Nemanja Vidic
  • LB: Patrice Evra
  • RM: Owen Hargreaves
  • CM: Paul Scholes
  • CM: Michael Carrick
  • LM: Cristiano Ronaldo
  • ST: Wayne Rooney
  • ST: Carlos Tevez


Chelsea Started XI:

  • GK: Petr Cech
  • RB: Michael Essien
  • CB: Ricardo Carvalho
  • CB: John Terry
  • LB: Ashley Cole
  • RM: Joe Cole
  • CM: Michael Ballack
  • CM: Claude Makelele
  • CM: Frank Lampard
  • CM: Florent Malouda
  • ST: Didier Drogba


During the 26th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo was able to capitalise on a sensational cross by heading it into the bottom right corner. However, this lead wasn’t held for too long as within the 45th minute Frank Lampard was able to take advantage of a deflection coming from Rio Ferdinand to make it 1-1.

This level scoreline was able to persist past 90 minutes. However, in the 116th minute, Chelsea lost Drogba due to a red card - something that may have changed the shape of the soon-to-come penalty shootout. Hearts of Manchester United fans sank as Ronaldo missed his penalty - providing speculation that Chelsea would win the Champions League. Alas, one of the most famous penalties in football history took place as John Terry would ultimately slip and miss his Champions League-winning penalty. This allowed Manchester United to regroup and ultimately win the Champions League.

With this in mind, this served as one of the more memorable fixtures for Manchester United. For more related to prior United content - take a look at our look back on the Ferguson treble-winning season with a debatably even more iconic side. Visiting the iconic Old Trafford is a special occasion and one that should be shared with loved ones.