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Champions League Teams In The Europa League

Updated on February 2, 2014

Well For One, The Ball Is Uglier...

The Europa League

As the final teams have been knocked out of the Champions League, the 3rd place finisher falls to the Europa League. More times than not, fans consider the Europa League to be "the minor leagues". Here we are going to look at how UCL 3rd place teams do in the Europa League, and uncover the biggest successes and failures.

UCL 3rd Place Teams - 11/12

Result In E. League
Result Of Team Lost To
Man. City
R16 - Sporting CP (3-3)
SF - Athletic Bilbao (4-3)
R32 - PSV Eindhoven (6-2)
R16 - Valencia (5-3)
Man. United
R16 - Athletic Bilbao (5-3)
F - Atlético Madrid (3-0)
R32 - Manchester United (3-2)
R16 - Athletic Bilbao (5-3)
SF - Atlético Madrid (5-2)
R16 - Metalist Kharkiv (2-2)
QF-Sporting CP (3-2)
R32 - Man. City (6-1)
R16 - Sporting CP (3-3)
Viktoria Plzeň
R32 - Schalke 04 (4-2)
QF - Athletic Bilbao (6-4)
R-# is round of #, QF is Quarterfinal, SF is Semifinal, F is Final

Analysis Part 1

With the exception of Trabzonspor and Ajax, every team lost to a team who made it to at least the quarterfinals. Also, two teams lost to teams formerly in the UCL who dropped down with them. On the other hand, teams like United, City and Olymipacos both lost to opponents under their weight. Although you could say it is due to teams "weakening lineups" for these games, it is inconclusive from just one set of data. Below is the same kind of data from the 2010-2011 season.

UCL 3rd Place Teams - 10/11

Result in E. League
Result Of Team Lost To
QF - Villarreal (8-2)
SF - Porto (7-4)
SF - Braga (2-2)
F - Porto (1-0)
R16 - PSV Eindhoven (1-0)
QF - Benfica (6-3)
Rubin Kazan
R32 - Twente (4-2)
QF - Villarreal (8-2)
R32 - Ajax (4-2)
R16 - Spartak Moscow (4-0)
Spartak Moscow
QF - Porto (10-2)
R16 - Spartak Moscow (4-0)
QF - Porto (10-2)
F - Porto (1-0)

Analysis Part 2

It is key to note the differences in teams playing and teams played from the two years. For the majority, these are weaker teams playing stronger opponents in the Europa League. These were not the Champions of England, but Twente and Rubin Kazan playing against teams like Porto and PSV. However, the margin of defeat is unreasonable and inexcusable. Twente who came in as a one goal underdog got trashed by Villarreal 8-2 and Ajax who came into their draw as the favorites lost 10-2. It seems that it is a mix of not taking the Europa League seriously and tough draws in it. The teams that fight the hardest are the teams that get the toughest draw more times than not. Even Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez said "The Europa League is not important if you don't win it but when you are in the semi-final or the final everyone wants to win, so we want to go as far as we can.". If this is the morale of a team in the Europa League, then you are NEVER going to succeed. That is the reason why it has been won by 2/3/4th place teams in Portugal and Spain 3 of the last 4 years. Fulham was the last major club to make it to the final, before losing to Atletico Madrid 3 years ago.


Champions League caliber teams simply don't take the Europa League seriously. It's a shame too, as it is a nice piece of silverware that they have the skill and ability to win, but play their reserves in it. This leads to a lack of success in the Europa League, with teams like Manchester United/City and Ajax crashing out to Villarreal and Atletico Bilbao. On the other hand, these teams like Villarreal and Atletico Bilbao take the Europa League seriously, and in return, make long runs in it. A run in a cup, not matter what it is, is going to boost a team's morale. In the future, hopefully teams will take the Europa League more seriously and not as a "minor league" but as a quality cup.

Do You Think That Your Club Should Take The Europa League Seriously?

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    • Jason Matthews profile image

      Jason Matthews 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub! I don't know much about the Europa League, but this is very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    • nlazar profile image

      N. Lazar 5 years ago from USA

      Although that would be smart, it would be hard to see it being passed through UEFA...

    • profile image

      Richard-Murray 5 years ago

      I think the europa leagues problem is far simpler. at the fa level you have the championships, and you have the cups.

      In england you have for championships: the EPL, the Championship, LEague 2, etc.

      you have for cups the carling, the fa cup and assorted regional cups

      Every fa has league and cup tournaments, the UEFA CL is used correctly as an extension of the leagues

      but the Europa league isnt used properly as an extension of the cups.

      UEFA has to stop letting UEFA CL losers drop into the Europa League, that is first.

      Second, league place has to stop earning entry into the europa league.

      If I had my way: the top clubs in the bundesliga, epl, la liga, serie a, ligue 1, eridivisie, etc would earn a spot in the UEFA CL

      And, the top clubs in the FA Cup, Carling cup, coupe de france, coupe de ligue, copa del rey, coppa italia, dfb pokal, etc would earn a spot in the Europa league.

      Now as a chelsea supporter you can ask, but what about Chelsea, we were the FA Cup winners and the UEFA CL winners last season, without dropping UEFA CL's losers into the Europa league, Chelsea would have no UEFA play?

      The answer is simply exactly, teams have to chose. Teams will have to choose whether to enter one or the other, knowing that failure in the UEFA CL doesnt mean europa league placement.

      No league table placements should determine entry into the Europa league, this would increase the value of cups for some clubs, especially the smaller ones. when you look at many cup tournaments that is where the smaller teams tend to make greater strides.

      So, UEFA CL teams need to stop being allowed entry in the Europa League. and cup tournaments need to be designed to offer 1st , 2nd and 3rd placement as necessary for the Europa league i envision.