The Champions League: the tournament where champions meet, at least that was the initial idea. Today, the tournament is the most financially rewarding and prestigious competitive ground for the European elite. On occasion though, a rather human factor creeps in, one that makes us wonder: what the hell is this team doing in this competition. Let’s examine the best examples.
Here are the five worst aggregate defeats by English clubs in European competitions:
1. Bayern Munich – Arsenal 10-2
The most recent Arsenal Champions League result is one which signified the end of the era of Arsene Wenger. The French manager revolutionised Arsenal – taking them to unseen heights and the bringing them back to unseen lows.
A painful mark, right in the heart, revealing in its brutal sincerity: Bayern Munich trashed Arsenal with a 10-2 aggregate victory over two legs. It was to be the breaking point of a wave of internal club strife. In both matches mental collapse by the Arsenal players followed the exclusion of a single player, Laurent Koscielny. There’s no meek way to say it: they were made to look like badly trained amateur youngsters.
2. Valencia – Nottingham Forest 7-1
To give you a better perspective of the scale of Arsenal’s European humiliation in 2017, here is a football clash from the early 60s. Then, Nottingham Forest was the only team without floodlights in their stadium – forbidding them to take part in European competitions. Upon installment, they were to host European scarecrows Valencia after having succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in the first leg.
This was long before Forest won the European Cup under Brian Clough. This was to be their first bite of European football, and it wasn’t a pleasant one. Two goals by Brazilian star Waldo and a hat-trick by Nunez gave Valencia an empathic 5-1 win to carve an aggregate result of 7-1.
Still better than Arsenal.
3. Barcelona – Wolverhampton 9-2
At the tick of 1960, Wolverhampton Wanderers had dominated English football for several years and regularly staged friendlies with European top clubs, the most impressive of which was a victory over Honved, a club which boasted a big chunk of Hungary internationals. The ‘friendlies’ were the prototype for the Champions League.
In 1960, Wanderers reached the quarter finals of the competition where they played Laszlo Kubala’s Barcelona. Undoubtedly star-struck, Wanderers lost 4-0 in front of 80,000 spectators at Camp Nou in the first leg. The return leg produced little to challenge Barcelona’s dominance: 5-2.
An overall aggregate of 9-2: still better than Arsenal’s.
4. Coventry – Bayern Munich 7-2
When Coventry qualified for the Inter-Cities Fair Cup and were drawn to Bulgarian outfit Trakia Plovdiv, they must’ve relished their luck. It was to be their first involvement in the European scene. A comfortable 6-1 aggregate win launched them to a tasty start, only to meet Bayern Munich in the next round.
Despite succumbing to a 6-0 defeat in Germany against a star-packed Bayern amongst which Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller, Coventry dug deep and fought back at their own Highfield Road to win 2-1 – an overall aggregate of 7-2 still sounds embarrassing out of context though.
5. Barcelona – London XI 8-2
Back in 1955 when Inter-Cities Fair cup was launched, only a single club per city could take part. So London united for the first time, forming London XI with selected best players drafted from each of the capital’s major clubs. The new team strolled to the final in 1958 where they faced Barcelona.
The Catalans proved too strong. Despite drawing the first leg, London lost 6-0 in Spain: succumbing to an overall aggregate defeat of 8-2. Shall I say it again? Still better than Arsenal’s.