Champions League: 5 Teams That Have Fallen from Grace

Ryan Bailey@ryanjaybaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2013

Champions League: 5 Teams That Have Fallen from Grace

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    This is Alan Smith in 2001, celebrating a goal that helped Leeds Utd earn a place in the Champions League semifinals.

    The 32-year-old midfielder now plays for MK Dons in League One, while his old side has been through the wringer since their European Cup success.

    Yet Leeds' financially dictated fall from the lofty heights of continental glory is by no means unique. The Yorkshire side lead B/R's top fallen Champions League sides...

Leeds Utd

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    After finishing third in the 1999-00 Premier League, Leeds Utd entered the Champions League qualifying round in 2000-01.

    Under David O'Leary, the 1975 finalists beat Milan, Besiktas, Lazio, Anderlecht and Deportivo La Coruna. They made it all the way to a semifinal clash with runners-up Valencia.

    Fast forward 12 years, and thanks to a calamitous financial implosion that sent them to the third tier of English football, Leeds now find themselves in the Championship, just five points from the drop zone and without a full-time manager. 

Rangers

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    Glasgow Rangers have reached at least the qualifying stage of the Champions League 17 times since 1992-93, making the group stage nine times. The Scots achieved their best performance in 2005-06, when they made the Round of 16, despite earning a single group stage victory.

    The Gers were in the qualifying stages of the competition last season, but their insolvency has brought them down to the lowest tier of Scottish Football, the third division.

    Their average attendance at Ibrox of 45,662 is around 15 times higher than the next biggest average crowd in the league.

FC Nantes

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    Ligue 2 is a hotbed of former Champions League glory, with AS Monaco, Auxerre and Nantes all currently occupying France's second tier.

    With players such as Claude Makelele and Christian Karembeu on their books, Nantes won the Ligue 1 title in 1995, earning them a spot in the 1995-96 Champions League. They played exceptionally well and progressed all the way to the semifinals, where they were knocked out by eventual winners Juventus.

    They hit financial difficulty soon after but still managed to win Ligue 1 again in 2001. In 2004/05, they flirted with relegation following a player revolt against manager Loic Amisse, which led to a violent fan revolt against the chairman.

    Les Canaris held on in Ligue 1 until 2006-07, when they dropped down for the first time since 1963. They were promoted after one season but immediately dropped down again in 2009. They have come very close to dropping to the third tier a few times since.

1. FC Kaiserslautern

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    Kaiserslautern have a peculiar history of dichotomous success and failure. In 1995-96, they won the DFB Pokal but were relegated to the 2. Bundesliga a week before the final. The following season, they won promotion again. Coach Otto Rehhagel somehow guided them all the way to winning the Bundesliga—a unique accomplishment in Germany and a rare one elsewhere.

    That league win earned them a place int he 1998-99 Champions League, where they finished top of their group and made the quarterfinals. 

    Soon after, however, their quick success led to even quicker financial mismanagement, and Die roten Teufel found themselves teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. 

    From 2006 to 2010, they were in the 2. Bundesliga once again, and after two seasons back in the top flight, they were relegated again last season. They're currently fighting fellow fall-from-gracers 1. FC Köln for the promotion playoff spot.  

Boavista

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    Portuguese side Boavista enjoyed a rich vein of form in the 1990s and early 2000s, climaxing when they won the 2000-01 Portuguese Primeira Liga.

    The Panthers qualified for the Champions League twice, most notably in the season following their domestic championship win, when they beat and knocked Borussia Dortmund out of the first group stage.

    The construction of their Estádio do Bessa, however, plunged the Porto side into financial difficulty that they have yet to recover from.

    They were relegated to the second division in 2007-08 following their part in a referee corruption scandal and suffered a consecutive relegation to the third tier the following season, where they still play today.