Connect with us

Leagues: Europa Conference League

Surprising success of the Europa Conference League

surprise Europa Conference League

In 2021/22, no competition caused more surprise than the Europa Conference League.

Originally, this competition started as a third-tier of active European club soccer competitions. The Europa League and UEFA Champions League started at least 50 years ago in older formats. Many soccer fans quickly disregarded the Conference League. A potential cash grab from UEFA that would be useless or boring in comparison to the Champions League or Europa League.

UEFA’s intentions for the competition revolved around giving smaller clubs an opportunity for European soccer. Even then, it would open the door for clubs that just missed the cut for the two superior tournaments. Many top clubs failed to qualify for the Europa League this season. For example, Tottenham, Basel, Roma and Feyenoord all have Champions League experience in the last five seasons.

Therefore, common soccer fans had familiar teams to follow. Plus, smaller clubs would receive much-needed exposure. The qualification and group stages were not for everyone to watch. That tends to be the buzz prior to the inaugural season. In fact, it turned out to be the opposite. The Europa Conference League leaned on surprise from new teams having a chance to prove themselves.

Clubs with domestic and European success like PSV Eindhoven, Marseille and Leicester City all joined from the Europa League in the middle of the competition. Suddenly, there were strong sides with familiar sides battling. Moreover, smaller clubs still provided the classic ‘Cinderella’ storylines fans love.

The competition was played on the same evenings as the Europa League, giving fans a chance to flip through games. In the end, the semifinalists for the competition’s inaugural campaign included Leicester City, Roma, Marseille and Feyenoord. On the surface these look like standard Europa League clubs. After all, half came down from the Europa League after the group stage.

The surprise of the Europa Conference League

The beauty of this newly created competition came from lesser known clubs fighting on the European stage.

For example, take Bodø/Glimt. The tiny Norwegian club in the Eliteserien reached the quarterfinals of the Conference League. Along the way, the club dismantled Roma with two wins over four games, including a 6-1 thrashing. Unfortunately, the one loss proved crucial in that quarterfinal tie, losing 4-0. Still, the quarterfinal appearance is Bodø/Glimt’s best finish in a European competition.

On the other hand, historic clubs such as FC Kobenhavn, Partizan Beograd and Rennes reappeared in Europe. These clubs fell under tough times in recent years. However, the Europa Conference League allowed for these clubs to reemerge. Fans of these clubs could dream big for the first time in decades.

Even Roma, which defeated Feyenoord in Tirana, Albania, by a score of 1-0, lifted its first continental title. Fifty-thousand Roma fans watched from their home stadium as the club ended a 14-year title drought. It also proved significant for José Mourinho. The Portuguese is the first manager to have won all three of the major European club competitions. Of course, no other manager has more Europa Conference League titles than he does with one to his name.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. SteveK

    June 7, 2022 at 11:41 am

    I think what has to mentioned is that CBS/Paramount+ eventually got this right–at first they weren’t streaming all games in a match window, they foolishly chose not to show Roma who had just signed Jose Mourinho and passed on Tottenham as well. But they later changed course and it ended up being yet another thing CBS and Paramount+ did well along their Europa League and Champions League coverage. As the games got more meaningful it was very shrewd of CBS to simulcast Champions League matches on CBS and on Paramount+ and their studio team has really created a style all their own. (Well, maybe not all their own, but just enough of NFL FOX Sunday crossed with Inside the NBA.)

  2. Daniel

    June 4, 2022 at 11:58 am

    If they truly wanted to help the smaller clubs they wouldn’t have teams drop from the champions league losers.

    • jason

      June 7, 2022 at 11:10 am

      If I heard it right as crappy as the new format starting in 2 years is going to be. I think the dropping down from Champions to Europa is going away. If that is the case, then the Europa and Conference leagues might be more intetersting than Champions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Leagues: Europa Conference League

Translate »