1956 UEFA Champions League Final

Real Madrid (Spain) vs. Stade de Reims Champagne (France)

Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris

Road to the Final

Despite the fact that the 1955/1956 UEFA Champions League tournament provided 16 of Europe’s top football clubs with their first opportunity to test their reputations on a wider stage, Real Madrid were no strangers to European club football. The Spaniards entered the inaugural UEFA Champions League competition having already competed in the Latin Cup contested by Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese clubs.

Given their experience at the highest levels of European club football, it came as little surprise when Real Madrid won their first UEFA Champions League game, knocking out Swiss side Servette FC by seven goals to nil in their first tie. The next two matches were tighter games and FK Partizan and AC Milan pushed Los Blancos all the way in the quarterfinals and semi-finals as the Spaniards fought their way through to the 1956 UEFA Champions League final.

French powerhouse Stade de Reims Champagne was no stranger to European competition either, having won the Latin Cup two years previously. Stade de Reims Champagne enjoyed a relatively easy path to the final, knocking out Danish champions Arhus 4-2 on aggregate before knocking out Hungarian side Vörös Lobogó SE in a high-scoring quarterfinal tie that saw 14 goals scored in two games.

In their semi-final Stade de Reims Champagne was pitted against tough Scottish side Hibernian F.C. and excellent defence ensured that the Scots were unable to score a goal in either game, as the Frenchmen won 3-0 on aggregate.

The Final

The 1956 UEFA Champions League final was played in front of a crowd of 38,000 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Stade de Reims Champagne, enjoying home advantage, sped to an early lead with goals from Michel Leblond and Jean Templin in the first 10 minutes.

With the game seemingly lost, Real Madrid struck back with two goals before the end of the first half through Alfredo di Stefano and Hector Rial. The second half saw Michel Hidalgo score a third goal for Stade de Reims Champagne with 30 minutes left to play.

Real Madrid rallied magnificently as Marquitos drew the club level only five minutes later. The French side had no answer to the Spaniards’ powerful attack, and conceded the winning goal to the brilliant Rial on the 79th minute, handing Real Madrid the trophy they would hold for the next five years.