Determined dozen: past group stage contenders

With 12 of the second qualifying round contenders having competed in the group stage in the past, we look back at how they fared against Europe's elite in the tournament proper.

With 12 of the teams involved in the second qualifying round having featured in the group stage in the past, recall some of their most famous nights in the competition in the UEFA Champions League era.

With 12 of the teams involved in the second qualifying round having featured in the group stage in the past, UEFA.com looks back at how the dozen fared against Europe's elite in the tournament proper.

See highlights of their campaigns by clicking on the video player above.

APOEL FC
Having failed to secure a victory as group stage debutants in 2009/10, the Thrylos enjoyed a magnificent campaign two years later (2011/12) – advancing into the knockout phase by topping a group containing FC Zenit, FC Porto and FC Shakhtar Donetsk. Olympique Lyonnais were defeated on penalties but Real Madrid CF proved a step too far in the quarter-finals, though Ivan Jovanović's side still managed to find the net twice in the second leg at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The Cypriot champions struggled in Group F last season as just one goal and one point were attained – FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and AFC Ajax proving too strong.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC
The Israeli champions will return to the group stage for the first time since 2004/05 if they progress from qualifying. That was the Yellows' only foray to date and the draw made sure they experienced the best Europe had to offer. FC Bayern München, Juventus and Ajax were pitted against Nir Klinger's men, who performed admirably. Baruch Dego's double ensured a first win – 2-1 against the Dutch champions – while a draw with Juve boosted their points tally.

Memories of Maribor's first campaign
Memories of Maribor's first campaign

NK Maribor
The Slovenian side were back in the group stage last term after a 15-year absence and were in with a sniff of qualifying after four matchdays. Draws against all other Group G rivals – Chelsea FC, Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Schalke 04 – in their opening quartet of fixtures left them just two points off a qualifying spot but the Purples finished with two defeats to end those hopes.

Their bow came at the first group stage in 1999/2000 and they started with a bang; Ante Šimundža's goal earned a 1-0 win at FC Dynamo Kyiv in their opening tie. That was as good as it got, with just a final-day point at Bayer 04 Leverkusen their only other highlight from the section which was topped by SS Lazio.

FC BATE Borisov
The club's fourth appearance last season proved a tough one. A 6-0 loss at FC Porto as well as 7-0 and 5-0 losses at the hands of FC Shakhtar Donetsk meant the only bright point was a 2-1 home win against Athletic Club. It was much more enjoyable two years previous (2012/13), opening with wins against LOSC Lille and Bayern, but a failure to pick up any more points meant the Belarusian champions just missed out on qualifying.

Mika Lehkosuo in action for HJK
Mika Lehkosuo in action for HJK©Getty Images

HJK Helsinki
It was 1998/99 when the Klubi reached the group stage for their one, and so far only, appearance. Despite an opening 2-1 loss at PSV Eindhoven they looked destined to qualify at Group F's halfway stage following a 0-0 draw with eventual section winners 1. FC Kaiserslautern and a 2-0 home win against SL Benfica earned by Mika Lehkosuo's penalty and a 70th-minute Mika Kottila effort. Antti Muurinen's men remained second after a 2-2 matchday four draw in Lisbon, but they conceded eight in their final two matches, to eventually finish bottom.

Molde FK
Another side to make a solitary appearance, the Norwegian champions suffered five defeats in their six appearances during the first group stage in 1999/2000. Each of their three Group E rivals inflicted defeats in the opening games, a 4-1 loss at Real Madrid proving the heaviest. Matchday four brought a moment to remember, with a 3-2 home win against Olympiacos FC despite the hosts finding themselves 2-0 down at half-time. Andreas Lund's double brought parity by the 59th minute before Daniel Helstad snatched the winner in the Molde Stadion.

Markus Rosenberg celebrates against Olympiacos
Markus Rosenberg celebrates against Olympiacos©AFP/Getty Images

Malmö FF
Finalists in 1979, things have proved less successful since the introduction of the UEFA Champions League in 1992/93, with the club only featuring last term. Goalscoring proved the main problem for the Swedish champions, who failed to find the net in four of their six games. They did manage a 2-0 home win against Olympiacos as captain Markus Rosenberg scored both to earn the Himmelsblått their only points. Their only other goals came in a 4-2 matchday six loss against the same opposition, Rosenberg once again on target.

FC Steaua Bucureşti
The 1986 winners have been semi-regulars since the introduction of the group stage having made seven appearances. Success has been limited, however, with the club never advancing. The closest they came was in their first appearance in 1994/95, missing out on second place by a point to HNK Hajduk Split despite beating the Croatians 4-1 in Split. Their most recent campaigns (2013/14, 2008/09, 2007/08) have been ones to forget, with the club finishing bottom in each of their last three campaigns, collecting just five points in total.

Celtic's finest moments
Celtic's finest moments

Celtic FC
The Scottish giants have enjoyed numerous outings since their first in 2001/02, which included a memorable 4-3 triumph against Juventus at Celtic Park. The Bhoys reached the knockout stage in 2006/07 after dominant displays at home – Manchester United FC and Benfica were the victims – and again the following term when three more home wins proved enough. A round of 16 place was clinched in 2012/13 thanks to a unforgettable 2-1 win against FC Barcelona in front of the home faithful.

FK Partizan
Twice involved, the Serbian side had little to shout about on either occasion. They were far more competitive in their first outing in 2003/04 when holding each of Olympique de Marseille, Real Madrid and Porto to draws on their home turf. Narrow one-goal defeats were suffered in Spain and Portugal and only the 3-0 loss in the south of France suggested Lothar Matthäus' side deserved bottom place. Unfortunately, fourth spot was justified in 2010/11 as Aleksandar Stanojević's team lost all six ties and scored just twice in a group won by Shakhtar, and also included Arsenal FC and SC Braga.

Ludogorets celebrate against Liverpool
Ludogorets celebrate against Liverpool©Getty Images

PFC Ludogorets Razgrad
The Eagles from Razgrad made their debut last term and proved far more competitive than many expected, despite finishing as the bottom-ranked side in Group B. The Bulgarian side fought all the way in going down 2-1 at Liverpool FC and by the same scorline at home to holders Madrid before a debut win in the competition came thanks to a 1-0 success against FC Basel 1893, gifted by Yordan Minev's 92nd-minute winner. A pair of 4-0 defeats in Switzerland and Spain meant hopes of progressing were not realised, but they held the Reds 2-2 in Sofia to take away another happy memory.

GNK Dinamo Zagreb
Four appearances in total for the Croatian club who were unlucky not to progress in 1998/99, their first foray. Wins against Ajax and Porto left them second behind Olympiacos but only eight teams qualified for the quarter-finals from the six groups that season. Dinamo missed the cut. The following season (1999/00) the Blues drew at Manchester United and Marseille and beat SK Sturm Graz at home but still ended bottom of a fiercely fought Group D. Dinamo have struggled in the tournament proper recently: winless, and pointless, in 2011/12 and 2012/13 – the last three games of the former seeing 17 goals conceded.

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