The UEFA Europa League, previously called the UEFA Cup, is an annual association football club competition organized by UEFA since 1971 for eligible European football clubs. Clubs qualify for the competition based on their performance in their national leagues and cup competitions.
The competition has been known as the UEFA Europa League since the 2009–10 season following a change in format. For UEFA footballing records purposes, the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League are considered the same competition, with the change of name being simply a rebranding.
Here we take a look at some of the competition’s past winners who will be taking part in Thursday’s in 2015/16 round of 32.
Sevilla (2005/06, 2006/07, 2013/14, 2014/15)
The 2005–06 UEFA Cup season was won by Sevilla FC, beating Middlesbrough F.C. in the final. It was the first victory for Sevilla in a European competition, and the first appearance by Middlesbrough in a European final. The final took place at Philips Stadion, in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
The Spanish side who are the defending champions after defeating Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3–2 to win a record fourth title will hope to get past Norwegian side Molde as they aim for a third successive triumph in the competition.
Liverpool (1972/73, 1975/76, 2000/01)
Liverpool emerged winners of the 1972–73 UEFA Cup after beating German Borussia Mönchengladbach on aggregate. FC Augsburg take on Liverpool FC in their most prestigious UEFA Europa League game to date, with Jürgen Klopp returning to his native Germany for an 11th encounter with the Fuggerstädter.
The three time winners (1972/73, 1975/76, 2000/01) are meeting the Germans for the first time in what is Augsburg’s maiden date with English opponents.
The 1988/89 UEFA Cup was won by Napoli over Stuttgart. It was the fourth season for which English clubs were banned from European competitions as a result of the Heysel disaster in May 1985. The clubs who missed out this time were Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, Everton, and Luton Town.
Villarreal face Napoli for the fifth time, with past meetings suggesting that the visitors’ Marek Hamšík may be one to watch in the round of 32 encounter.
The sides have met on four occasions in UEFA competition, Napoli winning two games to Villarreal’s one.
The 1982/83 UEFA Cup was won by Anderlecht on aggregate over Benfica. History suggests there is a 75% chance of a hat-trick for one side or the other as Anderlecht play host to Greek Champions Olympiacos FC in what will be the sides’ fifth meeting.
Anderlecht have met Olympiacos on four occasions in UEFA competition with the record W1 D0 L3 (W1 D0 L1 in Brussels – W0 D0 L2 in Greece). Hat-tricks were scored in three of those four games.
In the second round of the 1974/75 European Champion Clubs’ Cup, Rob Rensenbrink hit three as Urbain Braems’s Anderlecht beat Lakis Petropoulos’s Olympiacos 5-1 at home.
Maik Galakos scored all three of Olympiacos’s goals in a 3-0 win in the return fixture – it was Olympiacos’s first European hat-trick.
More recently, Míchel’s Olympiacos defeated John van den Brom’s Anderlecht 3-0 away and 3-1 at home in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage, Kostas Mitroglou registering all three goals in Brussels.
The 1999–2000 UEFA Cup season was the 29th edition of the UEFA Cup competition. The final took place at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen and was won by Galatasaray, who defeated Arsenal in the final.
Unbeaten in their last ten home games against Italian sides, Galatasaray face a not inconsiderable task as they look to eliminate Lazio from the UEFA Europa League.
Galatasaray last played in the round of 32 in 2009/10, losing to Club Atlético de Madrid. Their best performance in this competition since beating Arsenal FC on penalties in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup final was getting to the round of 16 in 2008/09.
The 1987–88 UEFA Cup was won by Bayer Leverkusen on penalty kicks over Espanyol. Leverkusen face Sporting CP come for a fifth time in the first leg of their round of 32 tie, with the Portuguese having struggled against German teams in the past.
The teams have met on four occasions, all in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Leverkusen won three of those games – the other ended 0-0.
In the 1997/98 competition, Christoph Daum’s Leverkusen beat Octávio Machado’s Sporting 2-0 in Lisbon and overcame a side led by Francisco Vital 4-1 in Germany.
Daum was also in charge in 2000/01, when the Werkself defeated Augusto Inácio’s Sporting 3-2 at the BayArena, but had been replaced by Rudi Völler by the time the sides drew 0-0 in the return fixture.
FC Porto (2002/03, 2010/11)
Porto became the first Portuguese team to win the competition in the 2002–03 edition after overcoming Scottish side Celtic, at the Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla in Spain. Porto won 3–2 through an extra time goal. They won it again in an all-Portuguese final by beating Sporting Braga 1–0 with a goal from the competition’s top goalscorer Radamel Falcao.
Porto face Borussia Dortmund in their UEFA Europa League round of 32 opener, which could provide a new experience for 34-year-old goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.
Dortmund have won all three of their home games against Portuguese opponents – scoring ten goals in the process – but have lost all three of their fixtures in Portugal.
The 1996/97 UEFA Cup was won by Schalke 04 in penalties over Serie A side Internazionale. This was the last year in which the UEFA Cup Final was played in a two-legged, home-and-away format.
The Germans will come up against 2009 edition winners Shakhtar Donetsk who eliminated them at this stage of the 2004/05 UEFA Cup.
Shakhtar sent Schalke side coached by Ralf Rangnick packing in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup round of 32, winning 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen after drawing 1-1 in Donetsk. Those are Schalke’s only encounters with Ukrainian opponents.