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How Many Teams Have Retained the Europa League?

History of the Europa League

The UEFA Europa League is the second-tier competition of European club football, ranking below the UEFA Champions League and above the UEFA Europa Conference League. It was previously known as the UEFA Cup but was renamed to the UEFA Europa League prior to the 2009/10 season.

Introduced in 1971 as the UEFA Cup, it replaced the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and was the third-tier competition until 1999, when the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup was discontinued and merged with the UEFA Cup. The first ever UEFA Cup final was played between two English sides, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur, with the latter coming out on top 3-2 on aggregate.

UEFA Cup finals were played as two-legged ties before it was changed to just one game in 1997.

A change in format led to the renaming of the competition to the UEFA Europa League in 2009, which also included an expanded group stage. Atletico Madrid were the first winners of the newly formed competition, defeating Fulham in the final in 2010.

Atletico are amongst 14 UEFA Cup and Europa League victories for Spanish clubs, with Sevilla being the most successful with seven titles. In total, the trophy has been lifted by 29 different clubs, with almost half of them winning it more than once (14). Sevilla are also the current holders, having beaten Roma 4-1 on penalties in May.

Team stats betting

Team%MatchesWonFixtureOdds
1Leverkusen
100.0%33Qarabağ (A)
2Liverpool
100.0%33Sparta (A)
3West Ham
83.3%65Freiburg (A)
4Brighton
66.7%64Roma (A)
5Atalanta
66.7%32Sporting (A)

Who Has Retained the UEFA Cup?

Real Madrid (1985 & 1986)

The list of teams that have retained the UEFA Cup is very small. So small that it contains just two teams, Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Sevilla. Los Blancos won the UEFA Cup in 1985, before retaining their title the following season. Their victory in ’85 was their first piece of European silverware in almost two decades, but their success meant that they were the first team to defend Europe’s secondary competition.

Madrid faced Hungarian side Videoton in the final of 1985, winning 3-1 on aggregate. The first leg was a comfortable 3-0 win in Hungary, before they lost the second leg by a goal to nil. With the goal coming in the 86th minute, it was too late for any comeback.

German team Köln were Madrid’s opponents in the 1986 final, but lost 5-3 on aggregate, handing the Spaniards their second UEFA Cup in as many years. Just like the previous season, the tie was essentially over after the first leg, with Real coming out on top as 5-1 winners. They did receive a scare though, as Köln went took the lead half an hour into the game. However, they recovered to take a commanding lead into the second leg. They did lose the return game 2-0 but went on to lift the trophy.

Sevilla (2006 & 2007)

Spanish clubs account for 14 UEFA Cup and Europa League victories, so it is no surprise to see both teams who have retained the trophy come from there. Sevilla won the competition in 2005 and 2006, which were the first European trophies in their history. They beat Middlesbrough 4-0 in the 2005 final.

The score line suggests a comfortable victory, though their opponents were well in the game until late when the floodgates opened. Sevilla held a 1-0 lead from the 27th minute all the way until the 78th when Enzo Maresca added a second. From there, it was over, with the Spaniards scoring a further two goals to ensure their victory.

They went back to the final the following year and defended their title with a penalty shootout win over another Spanish side, Espanyol.

It was a competitive affair, as Sevilla were pegged back twice in both normal and extra time, but finally got the better of their rivals, winning 3-1 on penalties. This made them the first team to win the tournament two years in a row since Real Madrid in 1986. They were also the last to do it in the UEFA Cup’s format.

Has Anyone Retained the Europa League?

The list for back-to-back winners of the Europa League is even smaller than the UEFA Cup, with just one team successful in defending their title. That team is Sevilla, who as well as winning back-to-back UEFA Cups, won three straight Europa Leagues between 2014 and 2016. With seven titles in total, they are the most successful club in the competition’s history.

Under Unai Emery, they made history after beating Benfica, Dnipro and Liverpool in consecutive finals, becoming the first and only team to achieve this feat.

Benfica were the first to see defeat in 2014, losing out on penalties following a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes. Sevilla had to qualify for the tournament via a qualifying round, which they flew through comfortably. They finished top of their group, with three wins and three draws. On their road to the final they faced Maribor, Real Betis, Porto and Valencia, before their victory over Benfica.

The following season, Sevilla recorded their fourth European title and second Europa League in a row with a 3-2 win against Dnipro. It was a highly competitive game with the Ukrainians taking an early lead before surrendering it and equalising before half time. At 2-2, it was anyone’s game in the second half. Colombian striker Carlos Bacca scored the winner in the 73rd minute.

Since 2014/15, the winners of the Europa League are granted an automatic place in the group stages of the Champions League in the following season. Due to Sevilla’s victory in 2014, they were in Europe’s premier competition for the campaign, thus reducing their chances at completing the historic three-peat. However, their struggles in the Champions League saw them drop back down to the Europa League, as they finished third in their group. As one of the strongest teams in the competition, they were amongst the favourites to win a third title. And win was exactly what they did, defeating Liverpool 3-1 in what was a resilient performance.

Going a goal down before half-time put their opponents in the driving seat, but the Spaniards responded brilliantly, equalising just 17 seconds into the second half. Two goals in six minutes from Coke gave Sevilla the lead and a cushion, which they managed to hold on to.

They won the competition again last season, defeating Roma 4-1 on penalties, meaning they have an opportunity to go back-to-back once again, although they are currently competing in the Champions League. With two games remaining, they sit bottom of their group, three points off third place. If they do end up back in the Europa League, it would be tough to bet against them winning it again.

Teams That Have Come Close to Retaining the UEFA Cup/Europa League

Whilst the list of teams that have retained the UEFA Cup or Europa League is very limited, there are a couple of teams who have come close by appearing in back-to-back finals looking to defend their title. In 1979, Borussia Monchengladbach won the UEFA Cup with a 2-1 aggregate win over Red Star Belgrade. Monchengladbach returned to the final a year later where they faced fellow Germans Eintracht Frankfurt. They won the first leg 3-2, but lost the second 1-0, ultimately losing on away goals.

Anderlecht were the second club to have an opportunity at winning back-to-back titles, but like Monchengladbach, fell short in heartbreaking fashion. They were victorious in 1983, beating Benfica 2-1 over two legs. In 1984, they faced Tottenham Hotspur, where they lost out 4-3 on penalties following two 1-1 draws.

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