Future European Cup finalists Juventus, Atlético Madrid and Borussia Dortmund all fell short in the UEFA Europa League group stage, showing reputations count for little on Thursday nights.
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The UEFA Europa League group stage has been no respecter of reputations over the years – as the contenders focus on the round of 32, UEFA.com remembers the big names who have missed the cut in past seasons.
Juventus (Group A, 2010/11, P6 W0 D6 L0 F7 A7 Pts6)
Luigi Delneri's men suffered appalling luck with injuries throughout and as Simone Pepe – a winger playing as an emergency left-back – told UEFA.com: "When you play for a side like Juve everyone you face gives 200% rather than 100%." Juve finished third behind Manchester City and Lech Poznán, breaking new ground as the only team to date to draw all six games in a UEFA Europa League campaign.
Atlético Madrid (Group B, 2010/11, P6 W2 D2 L2 F9 A7 Pts8)
Holders Atlético retained the bulk of their star players for their trophy defence, but despite the presence of David de Gea, Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa, they finished third in Group B. That was largely due to two defeats by Greek side Aris – the worst a 3-2 reverse at home of which captain Antonio López admitted: "Before kick-off losing this match obviously never crossed our minds."
Dortmund (Group J, 2010/11, P6 W2 D3 L1 F10 A7 Pts9)
Drawn alongside Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla, Dortmund went down fighting, finishing third in one of the most challenging groups in the competition's history. Needing a win at Sevilla on the last day, Jürgen Klopp's side drew 2-2. "We want to play at full throttle, we want to take it to the limit," Klopp said. His side consoled themselves by winning the Bundesliga that season, with the bulk of them going on to impress in the UEFA Champions League.
Tottenham (Group A, 2011/12, P6 W3 D1 L2 F9 A4 Pts10)
Defeats against Rubin Kazan and PAOK undermined Harry Redknapp's team as they finished third behind both of those sides, signing off with a 4-0 defeat of point-less Shamrock Rovers in which Harry Kane scored the first of many Spurs goals. Household names like Luka Modrić and Jermain Defoe could not prevent them falling short, but there were positives to be taken from the campaign. "It's been massive for us youngsters to get game time," said midfielder Andros Townsend.
Paris (Group F, 2011/12, P6 W3 D1 L2 F8 A7 Pts10)
Away goals proved to be the undoing of Antoine Kombouaré's squad as they were edged out by Salzburg in a fiercely competitive section. "We need to make sure we don't lose confidence because we definitely have the talent," concluded defender Zoumana Camara. By the following season they had plenty more of that, Zlatan Ibrahimović's arrival heralding the next phase of the club's high-profile rebuilding. They have not played a UEFA Europa League game since.
Athletic (Group I, 2012/13, P6 W1 D2 L3 F7 A9 Pts5)
"The Europa League experience was beautiful," striker Fernando Llorente told UEFA.com as Athletic returned to the competition the season after they lost to compatriots Atlético in the 2012 final. Their 2012/13 tilt, though, was not so edifying – Marcelo Bielsa's charges failed to win their first four games and were effectively eliminated without kicking a ball, their rivals leaving them marooned at the foot of the section while their matchday five fixture at Kiryat Shmona was postponed for security reasons.