One of the best things about the Europa League is the step it gives lower profile teams to make a real name for themselves.
The 2020/21 edition was no different, with Granada – ranked second in Spanish football in 2018/19 – not only one of the most exciting teams to watch in La Liga, but also good for a place in at least in the quarter-finals.
The UEL Breakfast Show, presented by official tournament partner Kia, has been in favor of the underdogs this week and has put together a list of the biggest shocks ever seen in the competition’s history.
Napoli came close to knocking out Chelsea from the Champions League in 2012 and had a squad made up of Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne.
Basically they were as good as they came in the Europa League.
However, they did not live up to their star against Viktoria Plzen as they were hit. 5-0 on aggregate.
The biggest shock came in the first leg at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo, where Plzen smashed three unanswered goals to knock out a side considered one of the pre-tournament favorites.
Beating Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson has never been an easy task, and yet Marcelo Bielsa – him of modern fame from Leeds – has achieved it twice in a week.
In charge of an Athletic Club squad that included Fernando Llorente, Iker Muniain and future United Man Ander Herrera, Bielsa led his team to a thrilling 3-2 win at Old Trafford in the first leg, but his job fell short. to be finished.
Ferguson shot for the second leg, bringing Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick back into the squad, but they were powerless to stop Athletic from securing a 2-1 victory.
There were also a few minutes on the bench for a young Frenchman named Paul Pogba, who was making his penultimate appearance before leaving for Juventus.
Gent surprised Tottenham in the round of 16 in 2016/17 and clinched a shock 1-0 victory in the first leg.
Despite this advantage, Spurs were still overwhelming favorites and should dominate when the Belgians came to Wembley.
Christian Eriksen had Spurs tied after just ten minutes, but an own goal from Harry Kane and a red card for Dele Alli before the break was a game-changer.
Victor Wanyama got his team back in front, but Kane’s goal meant Spurs still needed another. Gent sat down and absorbed all the pressure in the world, only for substitute Jeremy Perbet to score the goal that gave Gent an insurmountable lead.
The entire 2014/15 season seemed blurry for Ukrainian side Dnipro, who consistently exceeded their weight en route to the Europa League final.
Not even Ukraine’s biggest team at the time, Dnipro went through a squad that also included Inter and Saint-Etienne, before sending Olympiacos, Ajax and Club Brugge to book themselves a place in the semi-finals.
They stunned the world again by winning against Napoli, setting up a clash with Europa League specialists Sevilla in the final. Unfortunately for Dnipro, they lost – kicking off a major plunge for the club.
They were kicked out of Europe next year for breaking financial fair play rules and were forced to close their doors for good in 2019, just four years after the club’s biggest season in history.
When Fulham was drawn against Juventus in the last 16 games of 2009/10, there was surely only one winner. Even though the Italian squad was not at its peak, their squad still had names like Claudio Marchisio, David Trezeguet and Fabio Cannavaro.
They were overwhelming favorites.
The classroom chasm was clear in the first leg when Juventus secured a 3-1 win in Turin, and it was so comfortable that the second leg at Craven Cottage was almost a given.
How bad it was.
In one of the craziest games of all time, in which Juve saw both their center-backs sent off, Fulham came back 1-0 to claim a fascinating 4-1 victory.
Clint Dempsey saved the best for last, pulling off a daring lob that sealed one of the biggest comebacks in European history.