Tuesday and Wednesday evening sees the first legs of this year’s Champions League Quarter Finals. And it’s a familiar line-up, with most of the big boys still present and paired up together. Which means we’ve got some pretty tasty fixtures… Juve Vs. Barca, Dortmund Vs. Monaco and Real Vs. Bayern. Oh, yeah. And Leicester City Vs. Atletico Madrid.
Yup, last year’s shock Premier League winners are this year’s shock Champions League quarter finalists. At 7.45pm on Wednesday, Craig Shakespeare’s Foxes take on Diego Simeone’s Atleti in the intimidating atmosphere of the Vicente Calderon Stadium. The East Midlanders are 10-1 to win the game. Which is crazy when you consider that Leicester are the English champs and – save for this past weekend – in pretty good form…
They’re underdogs, but don’t write ’em off. Shocks happen in sport, in football and in the Champions League. Here are our seven all-time favourite European upsets from the modern era:
Monaco Knock Out Manchester United
1997/98 – Quarter Finals
The year before that final in Barcelona when Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer pulled off the impossible to bring the trophy to Old Trafford, this happened… Two draws – a 0-0 in France and a 1-1 at home, saw the unfancied coastal outfit AS Monaco dumping Manchester United out of the Champions League. It wasn’t a great little period generally for United. Barnsley had dumped them out of the FA Cup not long before and a ten match winning streak would see Arsenal nab the Premier League from their rivals.
But this aggregate defeat to Jean Tigana’s Monaco really hurt Sir Alex Ferguson. So much so that he refocused the next year and they ended up winning the thing the next year. And in Fergie Time, of course.
APOEL Nicosia Tame Lyon
2011/12 – Round of 16
Cypriot clubs, as you’re probably aware, don’t exactly have a pedigree in European football. So when APOEL Nicosia get through qualifying and make the group stage, they’re normally a bit of a whipping boy. But that narrative was tossed onto the barbecue back in the 2011/12 campaign. APOEL made the quarters after knocking out French giants Lyon.
‘Thrylos‘ lost the first leg one nil but when Lyon flew over to them, a Gustavo Manduca goal levelled things and the game went to penalties. Goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis saved penos from Alexandre Lacazette and Michel Bastos and the Cypriots carved out a little piece of history for themselves (we’ll do them a solid and not mention the 8-2 aggregate spanking they endured in the next round at the hands of Real Madrid).
Schalke Smash Inter Milan
2010/11 – Round of 16
Six seasons ago, Schalke – having a poor time of it domestically – shuffled to Milan expecting a tough time of it against Leonardo’s Internazionale. Inter had, after all, dumped the mighty Bayern Munich out of the last round. And it didn’t start all that well for the Germans. In the first minute Dejan Stankovic scored an all-time European classic, with a belting volley from the near the halfway line. But it got better…
Schalke conceded again. But went on to win the game. Handsomely too, the game ended 5-2. “If someone had said before the match that we would beat Inter by three goals, we would have said they were mad,” coach Ralf Rangnick said afterwards.
The tie ended 7-3 after the Gelsenkirchen club helped themselves to a 2-1 win in the second leg.
Dynamo Kiev Get Real on Madrid
1998/99 – Quarter-finals
Valeriy Lobanovskiy’s second spell in charge of Ukraine’s biggest club side saw a fair whack of Euro glory heading East back in the ’98/’99 season. Okay, so they exited the competition in the semis, but no one expected a run like it. And not even the most ardent Kiev fan saw them overcoming Real Madrid in the quarters. But, thanks to a sterling show from future manager manager Sergei Rebrov and a three goal haul from future legend Andriy Shevchenko, they eased past the Spanish giants 3-1. Not half bad.
Porto See Off United
2003/04 – Round of 16
No one had heard of Jose Mourinho before this game. Alright, Portuguese football fans and those who follow Barcelona had, but the rest of the world? Not a clue. But he didn’t take long to make his mark, going from ‘Handsome Young Manager in Cool Coat‘ to ‘One to Watch‘ in the blink of an eye with this victory over Manchester United. The most notable thing? It wasn’t a lucky smash-and-grab, Mourinho used shrewd tactics to outsmart Sir Alex. And that doesn’t happen very often.
We feel bad not mentioning the players here. They were the ones on the pitch, after all. But, hey – that’s The Mourihno Effect, isn’t it? For the record, they won the first game at home 2-1 thanks to a brace from South African striker Benni McCarthy and the return fixture ended 1-1. Costinha scored the equaliser that sealed the tie and got the ball rolling on creating a managerial legend. That process was complete when Porto won the Champions League just a few short weeks later.
Depor Make Their Mark On Milan
2003/04 – Quarter Finals
When you go to the San Siro and lose 4-1 to Milan in the first leg of a Champions League quarter final, only the most positive of fella could picture the return leg being anything other than a formality. But when Depor did just that back in the 2003/04 season, the Galicians kept their heads up and were rewarded for their spirit.
Maths fans out there will already have worked out that they needed a 4-0 win to qualify. And that’s just what they got. Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valerón and Albert Luque put them three up at the break. The second half was set up. Captain Fran obliged shortly after the restart and broke Milanese hearts.
Monaco Cast Aside Real
2003/04 – Quarter Finals
We’ll end on another sexy comeback. At the Santiago Bernabeu, this 2003/04 quarter final went the way of the hosts, as expected. Real steamrollered Monaco and the game ended 4-2. The return leg continued where the first left off, with Spanish goal-snatcher Raul helping himself early on.
The aggregate was now 5-2 and things looked a formality. Step forward two men – Bullish French forward Ludivc Giuly and lanky Spanish striker Fernando Morientes. Two goals from Giuly and one from Morientes and that was that. 5-5 and Monaco were through on away goals.
The funniest thing about this game? Morientes was on loan at Monaco. From Real Madrid.
Will we get a repeat of one of these games when Leicester take on last year’s finalists Atletico? Here’s hoping, eh…?