Harder They Fall: 5 Times English Clubs Got Embarrassed by Weaker Opposition in the Champions League

So it’s finally started happening, the knockout stages of the Champions League have arrived and English teams are dropping like flies. 

Last week it was Spurs against Juventus, soon followed by Manchester United exiting at the hands of Sevilla; and hardly anyone is giving Chelsea much of a shot against Barcelona.

So, as everyone’s claims of English European dominance finally begin to die away in the reality of it all, let’s help bring you all back down to ground.

Here’s five instances of English teams being embarrassed by weaker teams on the biggest stage of them all…

Spoilers: None of them make it past the first knockout stage.

5. Manchester United vs Sevilla – Round of 16 (2017/18)

Sevilla 0-0 Man Utd

Man Utd 1-2 Sevilla

We’ll start with the obvious one.

Before Sevilla and United even kicked a ball in the first leg, Ray Walkins was likening the Spanish outfit to a bottom six Premier League club. Now, of course, he was incomprehensibly wrong – but Sevilla’s victory over the Red Devils is still a bit of a David vs Goliath moment.

No players amongst the squad that could be considered ‘world class’, but not the worst team in the world; Jose Mourinho’s £600m team of superstars should’ve brushed aside Los Nervionenses. But it wasn’t to be. Instead United played much too timidly, and ultimately bowed out of the Champions League in what can only be described as an embarrassment.

4. Manchester City vs AS Monaco – Round of 16 (2016/17)

Man City 5-3 Monaco (A)

Monaco 3-1 Man City

Now Monaco wouldn’t be considered lesser opposition to many teams around Europe, but Pep Guardiola’s arrival in Manchester the summer prior to the 2016/17 season, along with an influx of millions of pounds worth of players meant that everyone and their mums were expecting Man City to tear the Champions League apart last season.

They didn’t. 

Instead, Kylian Mbappe happened to be going though one of the quickest surges to stardom that football has ever seen, Bernardo Silva was still playing an adequate amount of football, and Tiemoue Bakayoko wasn’t absolute crap.

Don’t misunderstand, Monaco were on fire last season and absolutely merited their achievements, but nobody expected the great Pep Guardiola and his squad of world class players to be bested by a bunch of guys who have only just come out of nappies.

3. Arsenal vs Monaco – Round of 16 (2014/15)

Arsenal 1-3 Monaco (A)

Monaco 0-2 Arsenal

Perhaps a more upsetting Monaco triumph against an English club was that against Arsenal back in 2015. This was about a year and a half into the huge Russian investment thrown into the Ligue 1 side, and they were really beginning to make a name for themselves. 

However, compared to the supposed might of Arsenal, Monaco weren’t expected to progress any further than the last 16; but then again, Arsenal are Arsenal.

A torrid first leg left the Gunners with tonnes of work to do in the reverse fixture, and ultimately the Premier League side were knocked out – and they couldn’t even blame the likes of Bayern Munich this time.

2. Manchester United vs Porto – Round of 16 (2003/04)

Porto 2-1 Man Utd

Man Utd 1-1 Porto

There weren’t too many occasions that sir Alex Ferguson would look back on his Old Trafford career with regret, but the Champions League round of 16 back in 2004 is likely to be one of them.

Boasting a star studded line up of the likes of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Portuguese outfit (under Jose Mourinho at the time) weren’t supposed to stand a chance. For context, United had one the Premier League title the season prior, and Porto had just about managed the Europa League. 

Turns out Porto went on to win the Champions League that season, giving Mourinho his leg up into a spot amongst the world’s elite.

1. Liverpool vs Benfica – Round of 16 (2005/06)

Benfica 1-0 Liverpool

Liverpool 0-2 Benfica

An abysmal second leg at Anfield sent the reigning Champions out of the European competition early doors. This was a huge upset from a team who had scraped through their group in order to make it to the knockout stages.

Liverpool, having completed that incredible 3-0 comeback in the Champions League final only a year before, couldn’t even score one against the Portuguese outfit, and fell flat in what would be their wave goodbye at a chance of retaining the trophy.


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