Last season’s Premier League certainly threw out a few surprises. Everyone thought it would be a battle between Man City and Liverpool… but it was Arsenal that dominated most of the season until they were pipped at the post by Man City at last knockings. Meanwhile, Liverpool couldn’t even make it to the top four. However, probably the biggest surprise of all was the success of Newcastle United.
Newcastle United certainly has a rich history in English football, but it’s fair to say that in recent years, it has failed to reach any heights at all, which is why fans were more than delighted when they earned a spot in the Champions League this year. They are certainly the underdogs – and if you want a cheeky bet, then check out the latest football odds at Boylesports, where there’s certainly value to be had.
Although they might not have enjoyed many forays into Europe’s biggest football competition recently, it certainly has had some memorable European moments in the past. So, let’s take a look at Newcastle’s history in the Champions League.
The Debut Campaign: 1997-1998
Newcastle United’s first-ever venture into the UEFA Champions League came under the management of ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish during the 1997-1998 season. The club managed to secure third-place finish in the Premier League the previous season and earned a spot in the group stages of the prestigious European competition.
In the group stage, Newcastle found themselves in a pretty tough group – playing alongside Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv and PSV Eindhoven. However, despite the tricky competition, the Magpies managed to finish second in the group and advanced through to the quarter-finals, where they faced Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv again. Unfortunately, that was as far as it went – and their European journey came to an end as they were eliminated by Dynamo Kyiv on away goals.
The Legendary 2001-2002 Campaign
Quite possibly their most memorable and iconic Champions League campaign took place during the 2001-2002 season. Playing under the management of Sir Bobby Robson, the team embarked on a thrilling journey that captured the hearts of fans as they boarded the Newcastle rollercoaster.
Newcastle’s incredible run in the tournament included unlikely victories over the likes of Juventus and Inter Milan. Then came their quarter-final clash against Barcelona – which was particularly legendary, and saw them securing a 3-2 aggregate win to reach the semi-finals. This was the furthest the club had ever gone in the Champions League.
Unfortunately, their fairy tale came to an end when they faced Bayer Leverkusen in the semi-finals, with the German side progressing to the final. However, despite falling short, Newcastle’s performances that season will never be forgotten by fans who dared to dream.
Later Campaigns and Challenges
Following that unforgettable 2001-2002 campaign, Newcastle United has made sporadic appearances in the Champions League over the years. However, they have never managed to replicate their earlier success and have faced challenges – both in England and Europe.
One memorable campaign came in the 2002-2003 season, just one season later, when Newcastle reached the second group stage but narrowly missed out on getting any further. The following seasons saw Newcastle having trouble doing well enough in the EPL to get a place in Europe.
The Return to Europe
After quite a long absence from European competitions, Newcastle United made a return to European football during the 2012-2013 season when they competed in the UEFA Europa League. Despite not quite making it to the Champions League, the European adventure was certainly a welcome return for the club – and fans very much treated it like the Champions League.
The Magpies enjoyed some pretty memorable moments in Europe that year – including a great win over Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. However, they were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals by Benfica.
This year, Newcastle has another chance on Europe’s biggest stage – although they certainly face a challenge and how far they manage to get remains to be seen. Will they be able to replicate their unforgettable run during the 2001-2002 season under Sir Bobby Robson? Will they be able to do even better? Or will they fall at the first hurdle? Who knows?!
But what we do know is that this is a new chapter in the Newcastle European story – and we’re excited to see what is yet to be written…