The names of the clubs who have claimed multiple UEFA Champions League Football titles are the stuff of footballing legend. Clubs like Manchester United, AC Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid are recognised as the greatest on the planet partially because of their exploits in the Champions League, and their ability to come out on top in the ultimate battle of the world’s richest, strongest clubs.
The hype over the top clubs in the Champions League naturally overshadows the less than stellar exploits of some of the clubs who have made up the numbers at the tournament over the years.
10. Brøndby IF
Brøndby IF have been the outstanding team in Danish football for the last two decades, winning the Danish championship 10 times since 1985 and finishing as runners-up on another 9 occasions. However, the Champions League has been a different matter entirely. During their only Champions League campaign Brøndby played 6 games, losing 5 games, drawing 1 and conceding 18 goals in the process.
9. Rapid Wien
Looking to outdo Brøndby IF in the totally hopeless stakes are multiple Austrian league title winners, Rapid Wien. The club reached the group stages of the Champions League on two occasions, and clinically disproved the old dictum that ‘practice makes perfect’ by putting in equally inept performances in both campaigns. Rapid Wien failed to win one of its 12 Champions League matches as its porous defence let in 27 goals.
Belgian club Anderlecht has the distinction of bearing the title of the worst of the seasoned campaigners in the Champions League. In eight tournament appearances Anderlecht has progressed beyond the group stages only once, and has managed to amass a goal difference of -50, letting in an average of almost 2 goals a game in all Champions League matches.
7. Steaua Bucuresti
Steaua Bucuresti also doesn’t have much to show for its five Champions League appearances. The Romanian club have won only 4 of their 30 matches in the tournament, and have never managed to progress beyond the group stage of the Champions League.
Besiktas are one short of Steaua Bucuresti’s record of 5 Champions League appearances without securing progression to the second round. However, it is not this fact that earns them a place of honour amongst the worst clubs in Champions League history. Instead, Besiktas must be acknowledged for being on the receiving end of the biggest hiding in Champions League history, taking an 8-0 pasting from Liverpool in the group stages of the 2007/2008 Champions League.
5. Lierse SK
Lierse SK is another Belgian Club without much to celebrate in the Champions League. During their single Champions League campaign, Lierse were on the receiving end of 12 goals, scored three of their own, and departed the tournament with just a single victory to show for their time on Europe’s biggest football stage.
4. Willem II Tilburg
One must assume that the ‘II’ in the name of Dutch club Willem II Tilburg was not inserted to commemorate their 2 point haul in the 1999 Champions League. Tilburg qualified for the tournament by virtue of finishing second in the Dutch League and were rewarded for this feat by having 17 goals hammered past their defence as they tumbled out of the tournament without a single win.
3. AIK Stockholm
AIK Stockholm are the only club to have represented Sweden in the Champions League, and were hailed by an expectant Swedish public when they qualified for the tournament in 1999. AIK Stockholm’s Champions League debut proved to be a baptism of fire, as the hapless Swedes lost 5 games and drew 1. AIK Stockholm eventually departed the Champions League with only a single point and a -12 goal difference to show for their efforts.
2. FC Kosice
Just when you thought that clubs had scraped the bottom of the barrel in the Champions League, along comes FC Kosice. The Slovakian Club represented their country in the Champions League in 1998, and in the space of just a few months achieved the significant feat of becoming the first ever club to be knocked out of the Champions League without picking up a single point.
1. Levski Sofia
Not to be outdone by the exploits of FC Kosice, Levski Sofia arrived on the scene in 2006 with the apparent intention of making Kosice’s Champions League record look respectable. The Bulgarian side played 6 fixtures during the course of its Champions League campaign, conceding an average of 3 goals a match and scoring just one goal of its own. The club departed the tournament with no points.