The Most Disappointing Champions League Performances in Recent Seasons



The Most Disappointing Champions League Performances in Recent Seasons
The Most Disappointing Champions League Performances in Recent Seasons

The last four seasons of the UEFA Champions League have been quite a roller coaster ride. There have been some memorable moments, sensational goals, and record-breaking performances. But on the flip side, there have also been some major disappointments, as some of the biggest teams in Europe have flopped in the competition. 

This year, the flop of the year, without question, has been Manchester United, The Red Devils have incredible pedigree in the tournament, lifting the famed big-eared trophy on no fewer than three occasions as well as reaching three finals in four years between 2008 and 2012. Admittedly, they lost two of those to Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona, but that isn’t anything to be too disheartened by. 

But throughout the course of the 2023/24 season, the English outfit looked a shadow of its former self. After being drawn into Group A alongside heavyweights Bayern Munich and lowly Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen, many expected the Old Trafford outfit to progress as runners-up to the Bavarians. However, defeats at home to the Turkish champions and away at the Danish champions saw them crash out in the group stages. to make matters worse, they finished bottom of the group, picking up the most group-stage losses and conceding the most goals of any English club ever in European football’s most prestigious tournament. 

But Erik Ten Hag’s side isn’t alone in its woes. A number of Europe’s finest have capitulated on the greatest stage in recent years. Here are the most disappointing teams in the last four years of the UEFA Champions League. 

2022/23 – Juventus

Throughout the late 2010s, Juventus returned to the upper echelons of European football. They reached two Champions League finals in as many years in 2015 and 2017. However, they ultimately lost both of them, firstly falling to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona in Berlin before losing by four goals to one against Real Madrid in Cardiff. 

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In the summer of 2018, they brought Cristiano Ronaldo to Turin in the hopes of lifting the famed ‘Big-Eared’ trophy for just the third time in the club’s history, as well as snapping a streak of five consecutive trips to the showpiece fixture without tasting victory. Unfortunately, however, the signing didn’t pay off as expected and the Bianconeri exited the competition at the second-round stage for three consecutive years with CR7 leading the line. 

However, that paled in comparison to just how poor they were last season. The Old Lady crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage, finishing behind Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain. They lost five of their six games in the competition and only dropped into the Europa League courtesy of having a better goal difference than Maccabi Haifa. Talk about a fall from grace. 

2021/22 – Barcelona

Next up is Barcelona, who had a forgettable campaign in the 2021/22 season. The Catalan giants had become one of the most formidable teams on the continent however, crippling financial difficulties meant that they had to part ways with their talisman Lionel Messi. With the club unable to afford the funds required to renew his contract, the Argentine genius departed for Paris and the Catalonians were suddenly a shadow of their former selves. 

They were thumped 3-0 both home and away by Bayern Munich, while another 3-0 defeat away at Benfica was the nail in the coffin. They were ultimately relegated to the Europa League after finishing a point behind the Portuguese champions, but that too would be a disaster, losing to eventual champions Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarter-finals after mistakenly allowing over 20,000 German supporters into the Nou Camp. After back-to-back group stage exits, the Blaugrana have finally made it back to the knockout stages this season. However, their less-than-inspiring domestic form has led Bovada sportsbook to make them a +1400 sixth-favorite. 

2020/21 – Manchester United

Moving on to the 2020/21 season, we have Manchester United, who had yet another disastrous run in the competition, albeit not as bad as the one they have just concluded. The Red Devils were in the same group as PSG and RB Leipzig, and despite a promising start that saw them defeat the French side in the Parc Des Princes as well as thump the East Germans 5-0 at Old Trafford, the wheels began to come off on matchday three. United were stunned by İstanbul Başakşehir with former Chelsea man Demba Ba netting in a 2-1 win for the Turks, and that was a sign of things to come. 

Further defeats would follow and they needed a result in Leipzig on the final matchday to progress. They found themselves 2-0 down within 13 minutes and by the 69th minute, it was three. They did pull two goals back in the final ten minutes, however, but that wasn’t enough and United exited the competition at the group stage. 

2019/20 – Inter Milan

Last but not least, we have Inter Milan, who were expected to do much better in the 2019/20 season. Antonio Conte’s side had made some promising signings in the summer transfer window and had a talented squad at their disposal. However, they failed to get out of the group stage, finishing third behind Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund. 

In their six group games, the San Siro outfit only managed to win two, and their defence was constantly exposed by the opposition. It was a sobering experience for the Nerazzurri, who had high hopes of competing. But at least they would secure their first Serie A crown in 10 years at the end of the campaign.