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Clubs who shocked the establishment to make the Champions League quarter-finals

The Champions League is the playground where Europe’s elite come to compare sock sizes.

So, by that logic, the knockout round of the Champions League is where the biggest sides meet, having seen off the minnows in the group stages.

But every now and then that logic goes out the window. These clubs shocked the establishment to make it through the Champions League group stages and into the quarter-finals.

Leeds (2000/01)

When Leeds were drawn alongside Milan, who could call upon Andriy Shevchenko and Oliver Bierhoff, Barcelona, fielding Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert, as well as Besiktas no one gave them a chance.

But David O’Leary’s side finished second in their first group, ahead of Barcelona, before being drawn against Real Madrid in the second group stage.

Having successfully navigated two groups Leeds squeezed past Deportivo La Coruna in the quarter-final thanks to goals from Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Rio Ferdinand.

Their dream run would end in the semi-final at the hands of Valencia, who won 3-0 at the Mestalla, after a goalless draw at Elland Road.



Panathinaikos (2001/02)

Panathinaikos’ achievements in 2002 were all the more remarkable given, like Leeds, they still had to qualify through two group stages under the old format.

The Greeks beat Arsenal on the way to finishing second in the first group stage, then drew to Real Madrid and again finished runners-up in the second group stage.

Panathinaikos faced Barcelona in the quarters and Angelo Basinas’ penalty gave them a shock first leg lead heading to the Nou Camp, where Michalis Konstantinou’s eighth minute strike doubled their lead.

Even after a double from Luis Enrique Panathinaikos were still heading into the semi-finals, only for Javier Saviola’s 61st minute strike to settle the game.



Villarreal (2005/06)

El Submarino Amarillo were competing in a first ever Champions League campaign, having only played top-flight football for seven years.

A squad guided by the mercurial talents of Juan Roman Riquelme, with help from the ruthless Diego Forlan and unflappable Marcos Senna, made easy work of Group D, in which Man United finished last.

Forlan’s away goals were instrumental in seeing off both Rangers and Inter Milan in the second round and quarter-finals, before Villarreal met Arsenal in one of the most memorable semi-finals in memory.

Kolo Toure gave Arsenal a first leg lead, but Riquelme missed the chance to take the game to extra-time in the second leg when Jens Lehmann saved his last minute penalty.



Bordeaux (2009/10)

Bordeaux came out of a group containing Bayern Munich and Juventus unbeaten, winning five games and drawing in Turin.

The leading lights of the team were Marouane Chamakh, who scored against Juventus and Bayern Munich, as well as Yoann Gourcuff, who was recovering from the burden of the ‘next Zidane’ moniker placed around his shoulders.

A relatively easy round of 16 draw against Olympiacos was navigated with wins in both legs, which saw Bordeaux qualify for an all-French quarter-final against Lyon.

Lyon’s 3-1 home win was too much for Bordeaux to overturn, despite Chamakh giving them a win in the second leg. But they can look back on pride on a campaign in which they won every home game.




Apoel (2011/12)

Remember when Kaka and Solari played together for a Cypriot outfit in the Champions League?

We are, of course, talking about Claudiano Bezerra da Silva and Esteban Solari, rather than their former Real Madrid namesakes.

But the Cypriot minnows shocked Europe by finishing top of their group, ahead of Zenit, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk, before they went one better and beat Lyon in the round of 16.

The dream came to an end in the quarter-final though as they came up against a Real Madrid side that were just too strong, losing 8-2 on aggregate.



Malaga (2012/13)

Malaga were competing in the Champions League for the first time and having do so without the likes of Ruud van Nistlerooy, Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal who had helped them qualify.

But they made light work of the group stages, finishing first, above Milan, Zenit and Anderlecht.

Goals from Isco and Roque Santa Cruz overturned a 1-0 away defeat at Porto, putting Manuel Pellegrini’s side into the quarter-finals against Borussia Dortmund.

Heading into the 90th minute of the second leg against Dortmund Malaga were 2-1 up on aggregate and ahead on away goals.

But strikes from Marco Reus and Felipe Santana gave Dortmund the most memorable last gasp victory since Man United’s 1999 efforts against Bayern Munich.