Review

Good times

We’ve gathered the opinions of Champions Journal staffers and contributors to create this repository of favourite moments and memories from the 2021/22 season. As always, we’ve gone beyond the 90 minutes, which is why a Spanish breakfast and Lewandowski’s shoelaces both make an appearance…

Best picture

This was taken before the first leg of the semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal. For a photographer, Anfield Road on matchday is a gift. Everything around the ground breathes football; the whole route that the team bus takes is a myriad of places to capture moments. That day was all about the light – it is what makes this image special, because it was the perfect evening light for the typical red-and-white atmosphere. It is, without doubt, my favourite image of last season.

David Ramos, Getty Images chief photographer, Sport

Best Moment

Nothing unusual about Robert Lewandowski scoring a goal, but his overhead kick against Dynamo Kyiv was truly remarkable. Not merely for his technical ability, but also because the laces of his shooting boot were undone, making him look like a (very talented) schoolboy.

Ian Holyman, Journalist

The Atlético de Madrid fans’ response after their quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Their team had lost, not managing a goal across 180 minutes, yet there was a recognition of the effort put in, the fierce intensity that had City on the ropes in the final minutes at the Metropolitano. They carried on singing after the final whistle and gave their team a stirring ovation. Sport’s not just about the winners.

Simon Hart, Journalist
Sheriff’s Sébastien Thill

It’s got to be Sébastien Thill’s cracking late winner for Sheriff at the Bernabéu. It was the first goal ever scored by a Luxembourger in the Champions League and from the boot, no less, of a man with a leg tattoo of him imagining lifting the European Cup. He didn’t quite manage that in the end, but this was still the stuff of dreams.

Michael Harrold, Editor

After the second leg of the semi-final, Liverpool fans had to wait 15 minutes before exiting the ground. As they made their way out, hundreds of Villarreal fans had waited outside to greet them, congratulate them and wish them luck for the final.

Louis Scattergood, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best Song

I never got tired of the Northern Irish singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” during EURO 2016. Gala, who sang the 1990s hit Freed from Desire that it’s based on, was born and raised in Milan; no surprise then that an adjusted version with the lyrics “Pioli’s on fire” was the most popular song at the San Siro last season.

Paolo Menicucci, Journalist

The best Real Madrid chant from last season ends with, “Hasta el final, ¡vamos Real!” That translates as, “Come on Real, let’s fight till the final whistle!” With late goals against Paris, Chelsea and Manchester City in apparently unwinnable knockout ties, the Bernabéu has never chanted that phrase with such fervour.

Stefano Pioli
Graham Hunter, Journalist

As you’d expect, “Viva Ronaldo!” rang right around Old Trafford after the Portuguese forward’s injury-time winner against Villarreal in last season’s group stage. But more impressive is that it could still be heard at regular intervals in Piccadilly Gardens, in the city centre, some three hours after the final whistle.

Dan Poole, Deputy Editor

The travelling Villarreal supporters in the Anfield Road end were nothing short of spectacular; before, during and even after the game they held their yellow scarves high, creating a massive yellow wall. I’ve also never been to a match where the opposition supporters have joined in with holding their scarves up and singing along to You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Nick Stuart, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best City

Sevilla has a special colour; that’s what the song says and it’d be churlish to disagree. The Andalusian capital is a place full of light, history and culture, and the architecture is splendid. The wide avenues, elegant squares and palm trees create a sense of grandeur – and the Sánchez-Pizjuán can get pretty lively too.

SH

The Champions League has taken me to some out-of-the-way places but none more so than Tiraspol to see Sheriff host Real Madrid. From the army checkpoints to enter the breakaway territory of Transnistria to the Lenin statues in the city itself, it felt like stepping into a different era – one that my insightful guide Anton Dendemarchenko brought fully into focus. It is chilling to think what is happening in that part of the world now.

MH
Simon Hart enjoyed his trips to Seville

Milan provided the backdrop for a classic Champions League away day watching Liverpool: sun, great food and plenty of football culture.

Richard O’Brien, Champions Journalist fan reporter

RB Leipzig’s emergence as a Champions League force has given fans – and me – the chance to explore a historic city centre once hidden away behind the Iron Curtain. Featuring grand buildings and atmospheric alleys, it bears a passing resemblance to Prague; the stadium, inside and out, is just as breathtaking.

IH

Best picture

This was taken before the first leg of the semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal. For a photographer, Anfield Road on matchday is a gift. Everything around the ground breathes football; the whole route that the team bus takes is a myriad of places to capture moments. That day was all about the light – it is what makes this image special, because it was the perfect evening light for the typical red-and-white atmosphere. It is, without doubt, my favourite image of last season.

David Ramos, Getty Images chief photographer, Sport

Best Moment

Nothing unusual about Robert Lewandowski scoring a goal, but his overhead kick against Dynamo Kyiv was truly remarkable. Not merely for his technical ability, but also because the laces of his shooting boot were undone, making him look like a (very talented) schoolboy.

Ian Holyman, Journalist

The Atlético de Madrid fans’ response after their quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Their team had lost, not managing a goal across 180 minutes, yet there was a recognition of the effort put in, the fierce intensity that had City on the ropes in the final minutes at the Metropolitano. They carried on singing after the final whistle and gave their team a stirring ovation. Sport’s not just about the winners.

Simon Hart, Journalist
Sheriff’s Sébastien Thill

It’s got to be Sébastien Thill’s cracking late winner for Sheriff at the Bernabéu. It was the first goal ever scored by a Luxembourger in the Champions League and from the boot, no less, of a man with a leg tattoo of him imagining lifting the European Cup. He didn’t quite manage that in the end, but this was still the stuff of dreams.

Michael Harrold, Editor

After the second leg of the semi-final, Liverpool fans had to wait 15 minutes before exiting the ground. As they made their way out, hundreds of Villarreal fans had waited outside to greet them, congratulate them and wish them luck for the final.

Louis Scattergood, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best Song

I never got tired of the Northern Irish singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” during EURO 2016. Gala, who sang the 1990s hit Freed from Desire that it’s based on, was born and raised in Milan; no surprise then that an adjusted version with the lyrics “Pioli’s on fire” was the most popular song at the San Siro last season.

Paolo Menicucci, Journalist

The best Real Madrid chant from last season ends with, “Hasta el final, ¡vamos Real!” That translates as, “Come on Real, let’s fight till the final whistle!” With late goals against Paris, Chelsea and Manchester City in apparently unwinnable knockout ties, the Bernabéu has never chanted that phrase with such fervour.

Stefano Pioli
Graham Hunter, Journalist

As you’d expect, “Viva Ronaldo!” rang right around Old Trafford after the Portuguese forward’s injury-time winner against Villarreal in last season’s group stage. But more impressive is that it could still be heard at regular intervals in Piccadilly Gardens, in the city centre, some three hours after the final whistle.

Dan Poole, Deputy Editor

The travelling Villarreal supporters in the Anfield Road end were nothing short of spectacular; before, during and even after the game they held their yellow scarves high, creating a massive yellow wall. I’ve also never been to a match where the opposition supporters have joined in with holding their scarves up and singing along to You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Nick Stuart, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best City

Sevilla has a special colour; that’s what the song says and it’d be churlish to disagree. The Andalusian capital is a place full of light, history and culture, and the architecture is splendid. The wide avenues, elegant squares and palm trees create a sense of grandeur – and the Sánchez-Pizjuán can get pretty lively too.

SH

The Champions League has taken me to some out-of-the-way places but none more so than Tiraspol to see Sheriff host Real Madrid. From the army checkpoints to enter the breakaway territory of Transnistria to the Lenin statues in the city itself, it felt like stepping into a different era – one that my insightful guide Anton Dendemarchenko brought fully into focus. It is chilling to think what is happening in that part of the world now.

MH
Simon Hart enjoyed his trips to Seville

Milan provided the backdrop for a classic Champions League away day watching Liverpool: sun, great food and plenty of football culture.

Richard O’Brien, Champions Journalist fan reporter

RB Leipzig’s emergence as a Champions League force has given fans – and me – the chance to explore a historic city centre once hidden away behind the Iron Curtain. Featuring grand buildings and atmospheric alleys, it bears a passing resemblance to Prague; the stadium, inside and out, is just as breathtaking.

IH
Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Best food

The café gourmand is the hidden gem of French cuisine. You get a coffee surrounded by lots of mini versions of the restaurant’s desserts, in a have-your-cake-and-eat-it scenario. Whether in Lille or Paris, it was my go-to Champions League pre-match meal.

IH

In honour of our Greek Scouser, this season I diverted from my usual chips and curry – or Scouse pie – to try a halloumi gyros packed with chips that would make Kostas Tsimikas proud.

RO

Eating the pain aux raisins et aux pistaches I bought in a Paris boulangerie before the Champions League final was an experience. You know how we Italians are proud of our food? Well every bite I took was like, “Well, these French know a thing or two about food too!”

PM

The classic Spanish breakfast of tostadas (toast) with olive oil and blended tomatoes, plus an excellent café con leche.

SH

Best Look

The Champions League final ball, harking back to 2002 with its slick silver colourway. Simple yet effective. Bravo.

Seb Powell, Social and Digital editor

Trend-setting Matthias Jaissle lit up Champions League nights as much as his exciting young Salzburg side. “His style is straight from the Guardiola school of touchline swagger – varied, versatile and never anything more than smart casual at its most formal,” wrote Daniel-Yaw Miller in issue 11. “Comfortable in a range of attire, he often favours laidback looks, featuring open-neck shirts and cropped trousers paired with spotless white trainers. He’s also not afraid to switch it up, donning grey rollneck sweaters with blazers or a trench coat when a more serious approach is needed.” And it was, as Salzburg made their first appearance in the knockout stage.

MH

Luis Díaz in full flight, looking uncannily like Sonic the Hedgehog.

DP

‘Best’ might be the wrong word, but it was certainly amusing to see Pep Guardiola match Diego Simeone’s all-black touchline look with an all-navy ensemble when City and Atleti went head to head. Coincidence?

SH

Best interview

There's only one footballer who I would never say no to when asked to do an interview with him – even when it meant traveling nearly 400 miles to Munich in the middle of the week. It also occurred to me that this could be my last chance to interview my fellow Pole, Robert Lewandowski, as a Bayern player. Just hours before the interview he suffered a minor knee injury, so he was limping when I met him. I asked him how he felt and he said he was OK; he didn’t want to give away details as he doesn’t trust the press – that hasn’t changed! When it came to the interview he was prepared and did his job perfectly. I thanked him for his time and he did likewise, and I asked myself if it was my last interview with Lewandowski at Bayern. I was overwhelmed with sadness – but also pride.

Robert Lewandowski was worth the 400-mile journey to Munich to interview
Joanna Kozak, Journalist

I’d been told, overnight, that my mum had died. Very little sleep followed but I had already committed to interviewing Darwin Núñez that morning. No way could I let him, or those who’d set up the interview, down. It proved to be a release to concentrate on something else for 40 minutes. Darwin was interesting, articulate, honest and emotional. Describing the lowest point in his career, an injury, reduced him to tears for five minutes, but he was determined to carry on. A triumphant guy. Lovely experience.

GH

A family of Ajax fans on the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, before the first leg of their round of 16 game against Benfica. There was glorious February sunshine to soak up as I stood with a Dictaphone in one hand and a chilled bottle of beer in the other.

DP

Karim Benzema is from another planet. Before the final, I pressed him on how he managed to handle the pressure in the dying embers of the semi-final first leg against Manchester City, and why he watched his Panenka penalty for so long before celebrating. “Was it because you were worried it would hit the bar?” I said. “No,” he replied. “I was just admiring it because I’d done it nicely.”

IH

Best picture

This was taken before the first leg of the semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal. For a photographer, Anfield Road on matchday is a gift. Everything around the ground breathes football; the whole route that the team bus takes is a myriad of places to capture moments. That day was all about the light – it is what makes this image special, because it was the perfect evening light for the typical red-and-white atmosphere. It is, without doubt, my favourite image of last season.

David Ramos, Getty Images chief photographer, Sport

Best Moment

Nothing unusual about Robert Lewandowski scoring a goal, but his overhead kick against Dynamo Kyiv was truly remarkable. Not merely for his technical ability, but also because the laces of his shooting boot were undone, making him look like a (very talented) schoolboy.

Ian Holyman, Journalist

The Atlético de Madrid fans’ response after their quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Their team had lost, not managing a goal across 180 minutes, yet there was a recognition of the effort put in, the fierce intensity that had City on the ropes in the final minutes at the Metropolitano. They carried on singing after the final whistle and gave their team a stirring ovation. Sport’s not just about the winners.

Simon Hart, Journalist
Sheriff’s Sébastien Thill

It’s got to be Sébastien Thill’s cracking late winner for Sheriff at the Bernabéu. It was the first goal ever scored by a Luxembourger in the Champions League and from the boot, no less, of a man with a leg tattoo of him imagining lifting the European Cup. He didn’t quite manage that in the end, but this was still the stuff of dreams.

Michael Harrold, Editor

After the second leg of the semi-final, Liverpool fans had to wait 15 minutes before exiting the ground. As they made their way out, hundreds of Villarreal fans had waited outside to greet them, congratulate them and wish them luck for the final.

Louis Scattergood, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best Song

I never got tired of the Northern Irish singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” during EURO 2016. Gala, who sang the 1990s hit Freed from Desire that it’s based on, was born and raised in Milan; no surprise then that an adjusted version with the lyrics “Pioli’s on fire” was the most popular song at the San Siro last season.

Paolo Menicucci, Journalist

The best Real Madrid chant from last season ends with, “Hasta el final, ¡vamos Real!” That translates as, “Come on Real, let’s fight till the final whistle!” With late goals against Paris, Chelsea and Manchester City in apparently unwinnable knockout ties, the Bernabéu has never chanted that phrase with such fervour.

Stefano Pioli
Graham Hunter, Journalist

As you’d expect, “Viva Ronaldo!” rang right around Old Trafford after the Portuguese forward’s injury-time winner against Villarreal in last season’s group stage. But more impressive is that it could still be heard at regular intervals in Piccadilly Gardens, in the city centre, some three hours after the final whistle.

Dan Poole, Deputy Editor

The travelling Villarreal supporters in the Anfield Road end were nothing short of spectacular; before, during and even after the game they held their yellow scarves high, creating a massive yellow wall. I’ve also never been to a match where the opposition supporters have joined in with holding their scarves up and singing along to You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Nick Stuart, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best City

Sevilla has a special colour; that’s what the song says and it’d be churlish to disagree. The Andalusian capital is a place full of light, history and culture, and the architecture is splendid. The wide avenues, elegant squares and palm trees create a sense of grandeur – and the Sánchez-Pizjuán can get pretty lively too.

SH

The Champions League has taken me to some out-of-the-way places but none more so than Tiraspol to see Sheriff host Real Madrid. From the army checkpoints to enter the breakaway territory of Transnistria to the Lenin statues in the city itself, it felt like stepping into a different era – one that my insightful guide Anton Dendemarchenko brought fully into focus. It is chilling to think what is happening in that part of the world now.

MH
Simon Hart enjoyed his trips to Seville

Milan provided the backdrop for a classic Champions League away day watching Liverpool: sun, great food and plenty of football culture.

Richard O’Brien, Champions Journalist fan reporter

RB Leipzig’s emergence as a Champions League force has given fans – and me – the chance to explore a historic city centre once hidden away behind the Iron Curtain. Featuring grand buildings and atmospheric alleys, it bears a passing resemblance to Prague; the stadium, inside and out, is just as breathtaking.

IH
Good times
Review

Good times

We’ve gathered the opinions of Champions Journal staffers and contributors to create this repository of favourite moments and memories from the 2021/22 season. As always, we’ve gone beyond the 90 minutes, which is why a Spanish breakfast and Lewandowski’s shoelaces both make an appearance…

Best picture

This was taken before the first leg of the semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal. For a photographer, Anfield Road on matchday is a gift. Everything around the ground breathes football; the whole route that the team bus takes is a myriad of places to capture moments. That day was all about the light – it is what makes this image special, because it was the perfect evening light for the typical red-and-white atmosphere. It is, without doubt, my favourite image of last season.

David Ramos, Getty Images chief photographer, Sport

Best Moment

Nothing unusual about Robert Lewandowski scoring a goal, but his overhead kick against Dynamo Kyiv was truly remarkable. Not merely for his technical ability, but also because the laces of his shooting boot were undone, making him look like a (very talented) schoolboy.

Ian Holyman, Journalist

The Atlético de Madrid fans’ response after their quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Their team had lost, not managing a goal across 180 minutes, yet there was a recognition of the effort put in, the fierce intensity that had City on the ropes in the final minutes at the Metropolitano. They carried on singing after the final whistle and gave their team a stirring ovation. Sport’s not just about the winners.

Simon Hart, Journalist
Sheriff’s Sébastien Thill

It’s got to be Sébastien Thill’s cracking late winner for Sheriff at the Bernabéu. It was the first goal ever scored by a Luxembourger in the Champions League and from the boot, no less, of a man with a leg tattoo of him imagining lifting the European Cup. He didn’t quite manage that in the end, but this was still the stuff of dreams.

Michael Harrold, Editor

After the second leg of the semi-final, Liverpool fans had to wait 15 minutes before exiting the ground. As they made their way out, hundreds of Villarreal fans had waited outside to greet them, congratulate them and wish them luck for the final.

Louis Scattergood, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best Song

I never got tired of the Northern Irish singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” during EURO 2016. Gala, who sang the 1990s hit Freed from Desire that it’s based on, was born and raised in Milan; no surprise then that an adjusted version with the lyrics “Pioli’s on fire” was the most popular song at the San Siro last season.

Paolo Menicucci, Journalist

The best Real Madrid chant from last season ends with, “Hasta el final, ¡vamos Real!” That translates as, “Come on Real, let’s fight till the final whistle!” With late goals against Paris, Chelsea and Manchester City in apparently unwinnable knockout ties, the Bernabéu has never chanted that phrase with such fervour.

Stefano Pioli
Graham Hunter, Journalist

As you’d expect, “Viva Ronaldo!” rang right around Old Trafford after the Portuguese forward’s injury-time winner against Villarreal in last season’s group stage. But more impressive is that it could still be heard at regular intervals in Piccadilly Gardens, in the city centre, some three hours after the final whistle.

Dan Poole, Deputy Editor

The travelling Villarreal supporters in the Anfield Road end were nothing short of spectacular; before, during and even after the game they held their yellow scarves high, creating a massive yellow wall. I’ve also never been to a match where the opposition supporters have joined in with holding their scarves up and singing along to You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Nick Stuart, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best City

Sevilla has a special colour; that’s what the song says and it’d be churlish to disagree. The Andalusian capital is a place full of light, history and culture, and the architecture is splendid. The wide avenues, elegant squares and palm trees create a sense of grandeur – and the Sánchez-Pizjuán can get pretty lively too.

SH

The Champions League has taken me to some out-of-the-way places but none more so than Tiraspol to see Sheriff host Real Madrid. From the army checkpoints to enter the breakaway territory of Transnistria to the Lenin statues in the city itself, it felt like stepping into a different era – one that my insightful guide Anton Dendemarchenko brought fully into focus. It is chilling to think what is happening in that part of the world now.

MH
Simon Hart enjoyed his trips to Seville

Milan provided the backdrop for a classic Champions League away day watching Liverpool: sun, great food and plenty of football culture.

Richard O’Brien, Champions Journalist fan reporter

RB Leipzig’s emergence as a Champions League force has given fans – and me – the chance to explore a historic city centre once hidden away behind the Iron Curtain. Featuring grand buildings and atmospheric alleys, it bears a passing resemblance to Prague; the stadium, inside and out, is just as breathtaking.

IH
Penalty Pedigree

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Best picture

This was taken before the first leg of the semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal. For a photographer, Anfield Road on matchday is a gift. Everything around the ground breathes football; the whole route that the team bus takes is a myriad of places to capture moments. That day was all about the light – it is what makes this image special, because it was the perfect evening light for the typical red-and-white atmosphere. It is, without doubt, my favourite image of last season.

David Ramos, Getty Images chief photographer, Sport

Best Moment

Nothing unusual about Robert Lewandowski scoring a goal, but his overhead kick against Dynamo Kyiv was truly remarkable. Not merely for his technical ability, but also because the laces of his shooting boot were undone, making him look like a (very talented) schoolboy.

Ian Holyman, Journalist

The Atlético de Madrid fans’ response after their quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Their team had lost, not managing a goal across 180 minutes, yet there was a recognition of the effort put in, the fierce intensity that had City on the ropes in the final minutes at the Metropolitano. They carried on singing after the final whistle and gave their team a stirring ovation. Sport’s not just about the winners.

Simon Hart, Journalist
Sheriff’s Sébastien Thill

It’s got to be Sébastien Thill’s cracking late winner for Sheriff at the Bernabéu. It was the first goal ever scored by a Luxembourger in the Champions League and from the boot, no less, of a man with a leg tattoo of him imagining lifting the European Cup. He didn’t quite manage that in the end, but this was still the stuff of dreams.

Michael Harrold, Editor

After the second leg of the semi-final, Liverpool fans had to wait 15 minutes before exiting the ground. As they made their way out, hundreds of Villarreal fans had waited outside to greet them, congratulate them and wish them luck for the final.

Louis Scattergood, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best Song

I never got tired of the Northern Irish singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” during EURO 2016. Gala, who sang the 1990s hit Freed from Desire that it’s based on, was born and raised in Milan; no surprise then that an adjusted version with the lyrics “Pioli’s on fire” was the most popular song at the San Siro last season.

Paolo Menicucci, Journalist

The best Real Madrid chant from last season ends with, “Hasta el final, ¡vamos Real!” That translates as, “Come on Real, let’s fight till the final whistle!” With late goals against Paris, Chelsea and Manchester City in apparently unwinnable knockout ties, the Bernabéu has never chanted that phrase with such fervour.

Stefano Pioli
Graham Hunter, Journalist

As you’d expect, “Viva Ronaldo!” rang right around Old Trafford after the Portuguese forward’s injury-time winner against Villarreal in last season’s group stage. But more impressive is that it could still be heard at regular intervals in Piccadilly Gardens, in the city centre, some three hours after the final whistle.

Dan Poole, Deputy Editor

The travelling Villarreal supporters in the Anfield Road end were nothing short of spectacular; before, during and even after the game they held their yellow scarves high, creating a massive yellow wall. I’ve also never been to a match where the opposition supporters have joined in with holding their scarves up and singing along to You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Nick Stuart, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best City

Sevilla has a special colour; that’s what the song says and it’d be churlish to disagree. The Andalusian capital is a place full of light, history and culture, and the architecture is splendid. The wide avenues, elegant squares and palm trees create a sense of grandeur – and the Sánchez-Pizjuán can get pretty lively too.

SH

The Champions League has taken me to some out-of-the-way places but none more so than Tiraspol to see Sheriff host Real Madrid. From the army checkpoints to enter the breakaway territory of Transnistria to the Lenin statues in the city itself, it felt like stepping into a different era – one that my insightful guide Anton Dendemarchenko brought fully into focus. It is chilling to think what is happening in that part of the world now.

MH
Simon Hart enjoyed his trips to Seville

Milan provided the backdrop for a classic Champions League away day watching Liverpool: sun, great food and plenty of football culture.

Richard O’Brien, Champions Journalist fan reporter

RB Leipzig’s emergence as a Champions League force has given fans – and me – the chance to explore a historic city centre once hidden away behind the Iron Curtain. Featuring grand buildings and atmospheric alleys, it bears a passing resemblance to Prague; the stadium, inside and out, is just as breathtaking.

IH
Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Best food

The café gourmand is the hidden gem of French cuisine. You get a coffee surrounded by lots of mini versions of the restaurant’s desserts, in a have-your-cake-and-eat-it scenario. Whether in Lille or Paris, it was my go-to Champions League pre-match meal.

IH

In honour of our Greek Scouser, this season I diverted from my usual chips and curry – or Scouse pie – to try a halloumi gyros packed with chips that would make Kostas Tsimikas proud.

RO

Eating the pain aux raisins et aux pistaches I bought in a Paris boulangerie before the Champions League final was an experience. You know how we Italians are proud of our food? Well every bite I took was like, “Well, these French know a thing or two about food too!”

PM

The classic Spanish breakfast of tostadas (toast) with olive oil and blended tomatoes, plus an excellent café con leche.

SH

Best Look

The Champions League final ball, harking back to 2002 with its slick silver colourway. Simple yet effective. Bravo.

Seb Powell, Social and Digital editor

Trend-setting Matthias Jaissle lit up Champions League nights as much as his exciting young Salzburg side. “His style is straight from the Guardiola school of touchline swagger – varied, versatile and never anything more than smart casual at its most formal,” wrote Daniel-Yaw Miller in issue 11. “Comfortable in a range of attire, he often favours laidback looks, featuring open-neck shirts and cropped trousers paired with spotless white trainers. He’s also not afraid to switch it up, donning grey rollneck sweaters with blazers or a trench coat when a more serious approach is needed.” And it was, as Salzburg made their first appearance in the knockout stage.

MH

Luis Díaz in full flight, looking uncannily like Sonic the Hedgehog.

DP

‘Best’ might be the wrong word, but it was certainly amusing to see Pep Guardiola match Diego Simeone’s all-black touchline look with an all-navy ensemble when City and Atleti went head to head. Coincidence?

SH

Best interview

There's only one footballer who I would never say no to when asked to do an interview with him – even when it meant traveling nearly 400 miles to Munich in the middle of the week. It also occurred to me that this could be my last chance to interview my fellow Pole, Robert Lewandowski, as a Bayern player. Just hours before the interview he suffered a minor knee injury, so he was limping when I met him. I asked him how he felt and he said he was OK; he didn’t want to give away details as he doesn’t trust the press – that hasn’t changed! When it came to the interview he was prepared and did his job perfectly. I thanked him for his time and he did likewise, and I asked myself if it was my last interview with Lewandowski at Bayern. I was overwhelmed with sadness – but also pride.

Robert Lewandowski was worth the 400-mile journey to Munich to interview
Joanna Kozak, Journalist

I’d been told, overnight, that my mum had died. Very little sleep followed but I had already committed to interviewing Darwin Núñez that morning. No way could I let him, or those who’d set up the interview, down. It proved to be a release to concentrate on something else for 40 minutes. Darwin was interesting, articulate, honest and emotional. Describing the lowest point in his career, an injury, reduced him to tears for five minutes, but he was determined to carry on. A triumphant guy. Lovely experience.

GH

A family of Ajax fans on the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, before the first leg of their round of 16 game against Benfica. There was glorious February sunshine to soak up as I stood with a Dictaphone in one hand and a chilled bottle of beer in the other.

DP

Karim Benzema is from another planet. Before the final, I pressed him on how he managed to handle the pressure in the dying embers of the semi-final first leg against Manchester City, and why he watched his Panenka penalty for so long before celebrating. “Was it because you were worried it would hit the bar?” I said. “No,” he replied. “I was just admiring it because I’d done it nicely.”

IH

Best picture

This was taken before the first leg of the semi-final between Liverpool and Villarreal. For a photographer, Anfield Road on matchday is a gift. Everything around the ground breathes football; the whole route that the team bus takes is a myriad of places to capture moments. That day was all about the light – it is what makes this image special, because it was the perfect evening light for the typical red-and-white atmosphere. It is, without doubt, my favourite image of last season.

David Ramos, Getty Images chief photographer, Sport

Best Moment

Nothing unusual about Robert Lewandowski scoring a goal, but his overhead kick against Dynamo Kyiv was truly remarkable. Not merely for his technical ability, but also because the laces of his shooting boot were undone, making him look like a (very talented) schoolboy.

Ian Holyman, Journalist

The Atlético de Madrid fans’ response after their quarter-final tie against Manchester City. Their team had lost, not managing a goal across 180 minutes, yet there was a recognition of the effort put in, the fierce intensity that had City on the ropes in the final minutes at the Metropolitano. They carried on singing after the final whistle and gave their team a stirring ovation. Sport’s not just about the winners.

Simon Hart, Journalist
Sheriff’s Sébastien Thill

It’s got to be Sébastien Thill’s cracking late winner for Sheriff at the Bernabéu. It was the first goal ever scored by a Luxembourger in the Champions League and from the boot, no less, of a man with a leg tattoo of him imagining lifting the European Cup. He didn’t quite manage that in the end, but this was still the stuff of dreams.

Michael Harrold, Editor

After the second leg of the semi-final, Liverpool fans had to wait 15 minutes before exiting the ground. As they made their way out, hundreds of Villarreal fans had waited outside to greet them, congratulate them and wish them luck for the final.

Louis Scattergood, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best Song

I never got tired of the Northern Irish singing “Will Grigg’s on fire” during EURO 2016. Gala, who sang the 1990s hit Freed from Desire that it’s based on, was born and raised in Milan; no surprise then that an adjusted version with the lyrics “Pioli’s on fire” was the most popular song at the San Siro last season.

Paolo Menicucci, Journalist

The best Real Madrid chant from last season ends with, “Hasta el final, ¡vamos Real!” That translates as, “Come on Real, let’s fight till the final whistle!” With late goals against Paris, Chelsea and Manchester City in apparently unwinnable knockout ties, the Bernabéu has never chanted that phrase with such fervour.

Stefano Pioli
Graham Hunter, Journalist

As you’d expect, “Viva Ronaldo!” rang right around Old Trafford after the Portuguese forward’s injury-time winner against Villarreal in last season’s group stage. But more impressive is that it could still be heard at regular intervals in Piccadilly Gardens, in the city centre, some three hours after the final whistle.

Dan Poole, Deputy Editor

The travelling Villarreal supporters in the Anfield Road end were nothing short of spectacular; before, during and even after the game they held their yellow scarves high, creating a massive yellow wall. I’ve also never been to a match where the opposition supporters have joined in with holding their scarves up and singing along to You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Nick Stuart, Champions Journalist fan reporter

Best City

Sevilla has a special colour; that’s what the song says and it’d be churlish to disagree. The Andalusian capital is a place full of light, history and culture, and the architecture is splendid. The wide avenues, elegant squares and palm trees create a sense of grandeur – and the Sánchez-Pizjuán can get pretty lively too.

SH

The Champions League has taken me to some out-of-the-way places but none more so than Tiraspol to see Sheriff host Real Madrid. From the army checkpoints to enter the breakaway territory of Transnistria to the Lenin statues in the city itself, it felt like stepping into a different era – one that my insightful guide Anton Dendemarchenko brought fully into focus. It is chilling to think what is happening in that part of the world now.

MH
Simon Hart enjoyed his trips to Seville

Milan provided the backdrop for a classic Champions League away day watching Liverpool: sun, great food and plenty of football culture.

Richard O’Brien, Champions Journalist fan reporter

RB Leipzig’s emergence as a Champions League force has given fans – and me – the chance to explore a historic city centre once hidden away behind the Iron Curtain. Featuring grand buildings and atmospheric alleys, it bears a passing resemblance to Prague; the stadium, inside and out, is just as breathtaking.

IH
Penalty Pedigree

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