The History of the UEFA Europa League

Nov 11 09:41 2010 Dave Bartholomew Print This Article

The Europa League began life as the UEFA Cup back in 1971 and was originally intended for the runners-up clubs in the European domestic leagues.

In 1999 it was merged with the UEFA Cup Winners Cup which had been for the winners of domestic cup competitions.

The first final was an all English affair as Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur contested the honours,Guest Posting with Spurs becoming the inaugural winners.

Since then, the most successful clubs have been Liverpool, Internazional and Juventus with three titles each.

Originally the competition was purely a knockout one, played over two legs both home and away including the final but this was changed in 1997 – 98 as the final became a one-off game.

Beginning in 2004 – 05 two qualifying rounds were introduced for teams in the lower ranked UEFA Associations. These were joined in the first round proper by qualifiers from the higher ranked UEFA Associations as well as losers from the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Winners from this round were then seeded into groups with the top teams in each group then competing in the final knock-out stages.

Teams from Italy have the best record, winning the competition nine times and being runners-up six times. German, English and Spanish sides have six wins apiece with Dutch teams winning four times. No French side has ever won the title.

After Liverpool, the best performing English sides in the competition are Tottenham with two titles, Ipswich with one and runners-up slots for Arsenal, Middlesbrough and Fulham.

Fulham reached the 2010 final but were narrowly beaten 2 – 1 by Atletico Madrid after extra time.

The competition, whilst definitely in the shadow the Champions League, frequently provides the opportunity for the smaller clubs in Europe to take center stage and can lead to some great cup runs for the fans and exciting matches for the neutral.

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Dave Bartholomew
Dave Bartholomew

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