With Liverpool becoming the first English club in six years to reach the Champions League final, I thought I'd take a look at other Champions League finalists we played earlier that season.
1998/99 - Man Utd
Despite us having another poor season and getting humiliated 3-0 by West Ham the previous weekend, we actually held Man Utd to a goalless draw at Old Trafford for a second consecutive season. It was a lacklustre display by Sir Alex Ferguson's side that day but they came from behind to win 2-1 at St James' Park four months later with Andy Cole scoring a brace on his return to Tyneside despite Peter Schmeichel having to go off at half time with a flu. Four days before the Red Devils beat Bayern Munich 2-1 to win the Champions League, they beat us 2-0 in the FA Cup final in what was part of a memorable treble for them.
2002/03 - Juventus
We seem to play a lot of teams in European competitions who go on to finish runner-ups that season and Juventus are one of them. The Italians were poor in Europe the previous season but beat us 2-0 in our first Champions League proper game in five years in Italy but Andy Griffin scored the only as we earned a crucial win over Marcello Lippi's side on Tyneside before somehow qualifying for the next round. As we were beaten to the quarter-finals by Barcelona and Inter Milan in the second group stage, Juve were beaten by Serie A rivals AC Milan on penalties in the final.
2004/05 - Liverpool
Had Bobby Robson stayed on until the end of his contract with us, he would've been able to go up against his understudy Jose Mourinho and our future popular manager Rafa Benitez. When we went to Anfield to face the Spaniard's Liverpool side, Patrick Kluivert gave us the lead but a Titus Bramble own goal and a Neil Mellor finish gave Liverpool a 2-1 lead within six minutes before Milan Baroš gave the Reds victory. When they came to Tyneside for the return clash, Laurent Robert's free kick gave us a 1-0 win and due that game being used in the final part of the film Goal, Rafa was involved in the film before leading their worst squad in decades to European glory with an impossible comeback against AC Milan before they triumphed on penalties, making it no surprise that he has us at mid table with the likes of Isaac Hayden and Paul Dummett.
2005/06 - Arsenal
It was a pretty similar story when we played Arsenal in the league the following season before they reached the Champions League final. The Gunners beat us 2-0 in our last ever game at Highbury on the opening weekend but whilst they beat Real Madrid twice in Europe on their way to the final, they couldn't quite do the same to us as Nobby Solano's late strike gave us victory in the return game on Tyneside. They did come close to winning the Champions League as they led 2-1 in the final against Barcelona with fourteen minutes left before goals from Samuel Eto'o and Juliano Belletti broke Gunners hearts.
2006/07 - Liverpool
Another season when an English club got to a final, beat us by two goals at home but lost by one on Tyneside. Xabi Alonso scored from his own half to Liverpool the lead when we travelled to Anfield in September 2006 in a 2-0 win for the Reds and when they came to Tyneside in February, the game could've been called off due to the heavy rain but luckily it wasn't as goals from Obafemi Martins and Nobby Solano saw us come from behind to win 2-1. Liverpool faced AC Milan in another Champions League final three months later but this time, they were beaten 2-1.
2007/08 - Chelsea and Man Utd The 2000's was an amazing decade for English clubs in the Champions League and Man Utd beat Chelsea to the league title and in the Champions League final in the 2007/08 season. Unlike all the other teams mentioned in this article, both did the double over us and Man Utd gave us our joint biggest Premier League defeat as Cristiano Ronaldo's only Red Devils hat-trick helped us a 6-0 at Old Trafford three days after we sacked Sam Allardyce and they also hammered us 5-1 at St James' Park shortly afterwards. Our games with Chelsea were much closer as a late goal from Salomon Kalou gave the Blues a narrow win over us at Stamford Bridge before Michael Ballack and Florent Malouda scored to give the Blues a 2-0 win on Tyneside in the penultimate game of the season, something that wouldn't have happened if Jose Mourinho was still their manager.
2008/09 - Man Utd
A disastrous season started superbly as we held Man Utd to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford with Obafemi Martins scoring our goal and we only lost 2-1 to Sir Alex Ferguson's side in March, if only we showed the spirit we did in both games against a side who'd win a third successive league title and reach a second successive Champions League final, we wouldn't have been relegated. The Red Devils couldn't retain the Champions League though as they were beaten 2-0 by Barcelona as Pep Guardiola announced himself as one of the world's best managers.
2010/11 - Man Utd
Like 2008/09, we travelled to Old Trafford for our first game of the season and Man Utd won the league title but lost by two goals to Barcelona in the Champions League final. This time round, we were beaten 3-0 in our first game back in the top flight before holding the Red Devils to a goalless draw on Tyneside eight months later but more importantly, we finished six places higher and gained twelve more league points than two years previously.
2011/12 - Chelsea
The 2011/12 league season was so bad for Chelsea that we managed to finish above them and although they beat us 3-0 on Tyneside, we beat them 2-0 at Stamford Bridge thanks to an unbelievable double from Papiss Cisse. Their terrible league season was down to the ineptitude of Andres Villas-Boas, who was sacked in March before failing at rivals Tottenham, who also sacked him in December 2013 as successor Roberto Di Matteo not only guided them to FA Cup glory but they somehow came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Barcelona in the semi-final second leg to reach the final before a late Didier Drogba header put them into extra time against Bayern Munich in their backyard before the Ivorian scored the winning kick in the shootout to make them currently the last English club to win the competition, making us glad that Tottenham beat us to fourth as they lost their Champions League spot as a result of Chelsea's triumph.
2017/18 - Liverpool
Liverpool are in the Champions League final this season and after seeing them blow away sides in the league this season, it makes me feel lucky we only conceded three goals in both games against them. After a wonder strike from Philippe Coutinho gave them the lead on Tyneside, Joselu scored soon afterwards to give us a 1-1 draw and whilst we were comfortably beaten 2-0 at Anfield, we did a good job at damage limitation meaning we've conceded less goals in two games against the Reds than Man City did at Anfield in January and West Ham in two games each, what makes that achievement even better is the face that Jurgen Klopp's side have hit seven past Spartak Moscow and Maribor, five past Porto and Roma and three past Man City en route to the final.