The gallop was already on Wednesday with the game Spartak Moscow against Legia Warsaw (0: 1). But the “little brother” of the Champions League, known as the Europa League, doesn’t really start its new season until Thursday evening. With a very illustrious field of participants.
Which of course does not come close to the top level of the premier class, but with a total of 13 historic European Cup winners it is definitely made up of prominent figures.
With Olympique Marseille (won the handlebar pot in 1993), Red Star Belgrade (1991), PSV Eindhoven (1988) and Celtic Glasgow (1967), there are even four previous Champions League winners at the start, even if the competition was still at the time of their triumphs under the title of European Champion Clubs’ Cup.
In addition, with Lazio Rome (1999), Glasgow Rangers (1972) and West Ham United (1965) there are three former winners in the cup winners competition, which the Romans were the last club ever to win.
Incidentally, the Hammers will meet a former European Cup winner in their game at Dinamo Zagreb, as will the Laziali, who have to compete at the Turkish top club Galatasaray Istanbul. The Croatians won the previous competition of the UEFA Cup (trade fair cup) in 1967, while the Turks won the 2000 UEFA Cup.
Eintracht Frankfurt (won the UEFA Cup in 1980), Bayer Leverkusen (won the same competition in 1988), SSC Napoli (again a year later) and the Hungarian representative (and today’s opponent of Bayer-Elf) Ferencvaros Budapest (won the trade fair in 1965) Cup) complete the list of former European Cup winners of this year’s Europa League season.
In total, there are 13 clubs in the starting field with European silverware in their club museums.
A “cup of losers”, as Franz Beckenbauer once called the UEFA Cup, can therefore truly be out of the question. And the Europa League is no longer just a “little brother” alone. Since that season she has had a little brother in the Europa Conference League.