How have the last 3 teams to reach the Champions League quarter-finals in their debut campaign performed?
- How have the last 3 teams to reach the Champions League quarterfinal in their debut campaign fared in that season's competition?
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)
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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Published 11 Mar 2020, 15:03 IST