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Greatest Champions League group comebacks: Atalanta Lazarus Act

Jeffrey Monkhouse

Updated: Oct 11, 2022 05:41

No win at halfway? Greatest Champions League group comebacks

Although teams have come back from worse to win, clubs like Celtic, Sevilla, and Copenhagen are among those without a victory.

atalanta-lazarus

Atalanta celebrate after completing their 2019/20 Lazarus act

At the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, teams like Celtic, Sevilla, and Copenhagen may be winless, but do not discount their prospects of making the round of 16 just yet.

Tottenham reached the final despite only having one point after their first three games of the 2018–19 season. After losing their first three games, debutants Atalanta had even more work to do the following season before bursting down the final straight to finish second in their division.

We examine each season since the current format was implemented in 2003/04 to determine what the past has to teach us about teams' aspirations for the round of 16.

comebacks

Looking up: Why all is not lost

Atlanta serves as a ray of optimism for clubs still trying to make a splash at the midway point of the season. 51 teams found themselves in that unfortunate situation before to this season; only the Italian team was able to wriggle out of it.

In the 2019–20 season, Atalanta advanced as far as the quarterfinals, but two other teams have advanced further after going winless in their first three games. In the 2007–2008 season, Liverpool reached the semifinals; in the 2018–19 campaign, Tottenham went even further before falling to the Reds in Madrid.

Teams that have advanced despite losing all three of their opening games

0 points: Atalanta (2019/20)

1 point: Tottenham (2018/19), Gent (2015/16), Galatasaray (2012/13), Panathinaikos (2008/09), Liverpool (2007/08), Bremen (2005/06), Porto (2004/05), Arsenal (2003/04)

2 points: LOSC Lille (2021/22), Roma (2015/16), Man City (2014/15), Stuttgart (2009/10), Celta Vigo (2003/04)

3 points: Leverkusen (2016/17)

The Best of Atalanta | Iličić, Gómez, Zapata | 2019/20 | Serie A TIM

Looking over your shoulders: (Almost) no room for complacency

Okay, let's get started. After Matchday 3, 61 teams had a perfect record, and all 61 ultimately placed in the top two.

Seven points are not a guarantee, but they are not far behind. Since 2003/04, four teams have had seven points at the midway mark and failed to advance to the knockout stages: Porto (2015/16), Rangers (2007/08), Marseille (2007/08), and CSKA Moskva (2006/07). Even though the finish was in sight, that Porto team lost its final three games.

Till it's over, it isn't over.

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