The clubs we take a closer look at are not just some of the biggest and most successful football teams currently on the continent, but they have consistently won trophies and titles over the past 60 to 70 years.
There are definitely some huge teams in this list so we shall crack on with this rundown and take a glimpse at some true European giants.
1. Real Madrid
The huge success for Real started in 1956 when they won five European Cups in a row! The team was led by Alfredo di Stefano, and the club were awarded the UEFA Badge of Honour after their fifth consecutive triumph in 1960. Right through the rest of the 20th century, league titles and domestic trophies were won at will with players such as homegrown Raul and Iker Casillas to the fore. Arguably, their most influential player of all time is Cristiano Ronaldo, who played a vital role in the club winning La Decima (10 European Cups) in 2014. A must for number one!
2. FC Barcelona
The two Spanish giants take up the top two positions in our chart and throughout the 2010s, the rivalry was extremely special, mainly down to Ronaldo and Argentinian magician, Lionel Messi. The duo have captivated the global stage for the best part of 12 years and are without doubt, two of the finest players to have ever played the beautiful game. Barca had huge success through the likes of Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola and attracted the likes of England legends Gary Lineker and Terry Venables to the Camp Nou in the 1980s.
3. Manchester United
The most successful club in England in terms of league titles. They were truly a force to be reckoned with in the 1960s when the likes of George Best was at the peak of his powers. However, after those halcyon days, the football club went backwards and spent a fair few years in the wilderness before Alex Ferguson arrived in 1986. From then on, the Red Devils have had unprecedented success, winning the Holy Grail in 1999; the treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. Now, they have one more league title than bitter rivals, Liverpool.
The Old Lady of Turin make this list and why wouldn’t they! They started their dominance of Serie A in the 1970s during Giovanni Trappatoni’s reign and continued that through the 1980s until a slight dip before the likes of Pavel Nedved, Gianluigi Buffon and Lilian Thuram saw them become a force again in the early 2000s. However, Juve had to start again when they were relegated to Serie B following a match fixing scandal but have risen to the top once more!
Although they don’t formerly ply their trade in one of Europe’s big four leagues, Ajax were hugely successful in the 1960s to the 1980s, sweeping all before them domestically and on the European stage. Legends such as Johan Cruyff, Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard will forever be lauded in Amsterdam. Their last European Cup came in 1995 when a teenage Patrick Kluivert scored the winner but they made a run to the semi-finals last season before a heartbreaking defeat to Tottenham.
Like Ajax, Liverpool’s golden era came in the 1970s and 1980s when the likes of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley made the Reds into an indomitable force. That success continued into the 1980s when Kenny Dalglish wowed the crowds as a player, then as a hugely successful manager. Liverpool have also enjoyed Champions League success when winning in 2005 and 2019, but haven’t won a league title for 30 years. That won’t be far away from changing under Jurgen Klopp!
7. Bayern Munich
Bayern are Germany’s most successful club and that unbridled run of trophies began in the 1960s with the likes of Gerd Muller leading the line. They have won the Champions League/European Cup five times, including most recently in 2013 and they have a whopping 29 league titles, which is a Bundesliga record. They also have one of the best strikers on their books; Robert Lewandowski.
8. Inter Milan
This is a club who have enjoyed success in more modern times than some of the others on this list. Their recent haul of trophies began in 2004 when Roberto Mancini was in charge at the San Siro. He managed to bring huge domestic wins to Milan but their fortunes on the continent changed when Jose Mourinho took charge. Inter won the 2010 Champions League final against Bayern Munich before winning the World Club Cup later that year.
Unlike Inter, this is a club which prides itself on its dominance in the 1950s and 1960s when they managed to go shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Real Madrid. They won the European Cup twice in 1961 and 1962 and have a record 37 Primeira Liga titles in the locker. They may not be quite the force of old but still provide a stern test to all sides.
Celtic have the most amount of trophies out of all these teams with over 100 in all. Their rivalry with Rangers has been going on for years and years and they continue to dominate Scottish football. Their success in Europe came in the late 1960s when the legendary Jock Stein was in charge. Like Benfica, their home ground is a cauldron and they recently defeated Barcelona in the group stages of the 2013 Champions League.