Worst Collapses in UEFA Champions League History

Leg two of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 takes off soon. We’ve seen surprising exits, particularly PSG leaving early after losing 3-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid. It was shocking for everyone since the team featured international stars like Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé. With that in mind, Nitrobetting discusses some of the worst collapses in UEFA Champions League history.

Worst Collapses in UEFA Champions League History

Tottenham Hotspur vs. AC Milan, 2010/11

A historic track record doesn’t mean that Tottenham gets all the glory of the UEFA Champions League. The team looked lightweight when they qualified for the 2010/11 tournament after finishing fourth in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Milan documented top-notch numbers in the Serie A and the Champions League over the previous decade. The team was a heavy favorite when the two clubs met in the last 16. Despite the lopsided matchup, a single goal from Peter Crouch decided the game. It was the only goal scored in the tie and proved crucial for the Premier League team. This was the same season that a Milan squad with Zlatan Ibrahimovic would go on to win Serie A, highlighting how competitive the Spurs were that night.

Manchester United vs. Basel, 2011/12

Manchester United gunned for a fifth finals appearance in four years in the 2011/12 Champions League season. But United’s campaign ended early in December after losing to FC Basel, 2-1. The Red Devils are anticipated to sweep the group stage after a significantly easy draw. They were grouped with Basel and Benfica, which at the time were no serious threat to the EPL giants. Nonetheless, both sides tested United, and the reigning runners-up drew one game and picked up three losses against the two teams.

Before the first week of December 2011 concluded, United failed to go through the knockout stages despite needing just a draw against Basel. The Swiss club opened the score sheet early with a goal from Marco Steller. The Red Devils pushed to tie the game, but Alexander Frei’s late header sealed Basel’s ticket to the next round and sent United to compete in the Europa League.

Manchester City, 2011/22

Manchester City was the second Manchester team to be eliminated in the group stage. They had to play against German powerhouse Bayern Munich and a spirited Napoli team and struggled the entire time. Although the team had significantly tougher competitors in the group, it’s no excuse with the amount of money spent to put the squad together. City dropped games to Bayern and Napoli. It was too late when City performed and beat Bayern 2-0. The team’s poor showing in the earlier games put their fate in Napoli’s hands. The Italian side beat Villareal 2-0 to finish a point ahead of the Sky Blues.

Barcelona vs Roma, 2017/18

FC Barcelona was confident in their run towards the Champions League semi-finals. The team set its sights on another European title but was hard-pressed by Roma. The Serie A side pulled off the unthinkable in the second leg of the quarter-final. Barcelona was ahead 4-1 from their first leg in Spain. This weighed down on Roma since the team had never previously gone through the last eight of the competition before 1992.

Nonetheless, Roma had other plans down the line. The squad performed the unthinkable comeback and secured a 3-0 win at Stadio Olimpico. It was sealed with a late goal from defender Kostas Manolas and tied the aggregate score at 4-4. The result was enough to knock the heavyweights out of the tournament.

Monaco vs. Real Madrid, 2003-04

Real Madrid was at the peak of the Galacticos era in the early 2000s. Devid Beckham recently signed for the La Liga side following a long stint with the Red Devils. He joined forces with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Raul, Luis Figo, and Roberto Carlos to form a star-studded lineup. The team was built for one purpose, and that is to dominate the Champions League. Their matchup with Monaco looked like a straightforward win for the team.

The fact that Monaco finished in the bottom half of Ligue 1 eased some of the pressure as well. However, Fernando Morientes had other plans when they met Real Madrid in the tournament. The loan from Real kept Monaco in contention with a goal in the first leg. Trailing 4-2, the French side then completed the unthinkable and produced a 3-1 victory at home. Morientes put himself on the scoresheet again, which leveled the aggregate at 5-5. This was enough for Monaco to prevail on away goals.

Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United, 1998/99

Manchester United was high on its FA Cup and English Premier League win when they took on Bayern Munich in 1999. The Red Devils had key players on the injury list, including Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. To make things worse for the English team, defender Ronny Johnsen committed a mistake early into the game, giving Bayern striker Mario Basler a clear look at the goal. United would try to close the lead down the entire game, but the team had a shocker for every football fan out there. The duo of Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came into the game late to spark some offense. Each player found the back of the net to give United the win in a spectacular fashion. Ultimately, the goals penned a legendary season for Manchester United.

Real Madrid, 2010/11

The Galácticos faced plenty of controversy after falling out of the first knockout stage in six consecutive years. Madrid was eliminated 2-1 on aggregate by Juventus in 2004/05, which started the bad spell. Another shocker came by way of a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool in 2008/09. This loss prompted management to make lineup changes and led to the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Xabi Alonso, and Kaká. With a refreshed set of players to revive Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League goals, everyone expected the side to breeze past the group and knockout stage. However, Lyon stunned the side and left the first knockout stage 2-1 on aggregate. It marked the last year for the streak of Madrid’s underperforming years.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea, 2007/08

English football rivalry transcended into the Champions League when Manchester United met Chelsea in the final. The match stretched until the final seconds of extra time. The deadlock pushed the game to a penalty shootout. Chelsea keeper Petr Cech stood his ground and kept Ronaldo’s penalty kick outside the goal. When it was the Blues’ turn, every player cashed in on their kicks, until it was John Terry’s turn. The Blues’ captain tried to hit opposite his “natural side” and aimed for the top right with his dominant right foot. It was a catastrophe as he slipped and hit the post. United keeper Edwin Van Der Sar did the rest for his team and denied Anelka’s penalty kick to give United the trophy.

Barcelona vs. PSG, 2016/17

Although Barcelona is a mammoth of the La Liga and club football in general, they were on the verge of dropping the ball in the 2016/17 Champions League season. The La Liga team fought back and avoided a Round of 16 exit in the hands of PSG. The French side was 4-0 ahead on aggregate up until the second half of the second game. Barcelona closed down on PSG after half-time in the return leg. Their opponents quickly extinguished the situation and gave the Parisians a priceless away goal. By the time the tie reached the dying minutes, the Catalans needed three more goals to progress. Incredibly, Barça accomplished the unthinkable. Neymar showcased his speed and accuracy, scoring twice in a row, followed by Sergi Roberto who netted the late 95th-minute goal to keep his Champions League dreams alive. The contest ended 6-1 on the night and 6-5 on aggregate.

AC Milan vs. Liverpool, 2004/05

It was at the height of AC Milan when they displayed one of the worst collapses in UEFA Champions League history. Italian superstar Paolo Maldini set the tempo for Milan when he scored in the first minute of the contest. Hernan Crespo would double the lead in the 39th minute, Kaká sneaked a pass through the Liverpool defense and found Crespo for another Argentinian goal that night. AC Milan led the game at halftime.

However, the second half saw a different Liverpool team enter the pitch. Steven Gerrard was on top of his game and dominated the center of the field. He opened The Reds’ scoreline in the 54th minute. Vladimir Smircer added another goal two minutes after to make the score 3-2. Liverpool was relentless on the attacking end. A run from Gerrard led to a penalty kick that Xabi Alonso netted to tie the game.

The game extended to shootouts. Liverpool is now a few kicks away from a fifth Champions League title, and goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek made sure of this by denying Andriy Shevchenko’s shot. He was responsible for making sure that the game is written in books as one of the greatest blunders in UEFA Champions League history.

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