How have the last 3 teams to reach the Champions League quarter-finals in their debut campaign performed?

Atalanta have reached the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-finals
Atalanta have reached the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-finals

After becoming the first team to reach the Champions League knockout round after losing their first three games, Atalanta continue their fairytale run in the competition after ousting two-time runners-up Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the Round of 16.

Atalanta, who had won their first leg 4-1 at home, opened the scoring through Josep Ilicic in the second leg inside two minutes. Another penalty from the Slovenian marksman either side of Kevin Gameiro's leveler gave Atalanta a comfortable 2-1 cushion and a 6-2 aggregate lead at half-time.

Two goals from the home side reduced the deficit and brought it down to 4-6 midway through the second half. Atalanta, though scored two unanswered goals to end the tie as a contest and progress to the last-eight with a convincing 8-4 aggregate victory. Josip Ilicic also became the first player to score 4 goals in an away game in the Champions League knockout round.

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In the process, the Serie A top-scorers in 2019-20 became the eighth Champions League debutants to reach the quarterfinals and the fourth to do so since the knockout round of the competition replaced the second group-stage in 2003-04. On that note, let us have a look at how the last three Champions League debutants to have reached the quarter-finals fared in that season's competition.

3. Leicester City (2016-17)

Leicester City.

Surprise 2015-16 English champions Leicester City marked their maiden appearance in the Champions League with a run to the quarterfinals, having topped a group featuring Club Brugges, Porto, and Copenhagen.

The tournament debutants trailed Sevilla 0-2 in the Round of 16 and were indebted to their goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel for keeping out a penalty from Steven Nzonzi ten minutes from time in the first leg before scoring a priceless away goal and a 2-0 second-leg win to reach the last eight.

However, it was at this stage of the competition their run came to an end. Following a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, the reigning English champions couldn't find a winner in the second leg which would have got them through, instead, a 1-1 home draw sent them crashing out with a 1-2 aggregate defeat.

Where are they now?

Leicester are in the top four of the 2019-20 English Premier League and looking good for a return to the Champions League next season for the first time since their debut campaign in the competition four years ago.

2. Malaga (2012-13)


Having beaten Panathinaikos to reach make their Champions League group-stage debut in their first appearance in the competition in 2012-13, Malaga topped a group containing Zenit St. Petersburg, Anderlecht, and AC Milan.

Malaga overturned a 1-0 deficit at Porto in their Round of 16 first leg by winning 2-0 in the return leg to reach the quarterfinals where they faced former winners Borussia Dortmund.

Following a goalless first leg at home, the Los Malaguistas came back from a goal down to lead 2-1 with eight minutes remaining, only to concede two unanswered goals in the dying embers of the game to miss the semifinals by a whisker.

Where are they now?

Malaga have since run into tough times, getting relegated to the second division in 2017-18 after finishing 20th in La Liga where they have stayed since.

1. Villareal (2005-06)


Following a 4-2 aggregate win over Everton, Villareal qualified for the group stage of the 2005-06 Champions League in their debut season in the competition.

After topping a group which featured former winners Manchester United and Benfica, and French side LOSC Lille, the Yellow Submarine beat Rangers 3-3 on away goals after drawing the second leg 1-1 at home to progress to the last-eight.

In the quarterfinals, another away goal victory ensued as Villareal followed a 1-2 loss at Internazionale with a win in the second leg to set up a semi-final clash with Arsenal. A failure to score over both legs cost them dear as they succumbed to a 0-1 defeat on aggregate.

Where are they now?

Villareal lost to the Gunners again in the 2008-09 quarterfinals before getting relegated in 2011-12. However, the Yellow Submarine gained immediate promotion, finishing in the top six in each of their six consecutive seasons in the top-flight during which they made the Europa League semifinals in 2015-16 where they lost to Liverpool 1-3 on aggregate.

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Edited by Sai Teja
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