Opinion – The top five toughest ever Spurs Champions League groups ranked

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Champions League football is back, finally.

Nothing beats European nights under floodlights especially when there is an echo of glory.

Tottenham Hotspur had their fair share of memorable European nights in last season’s campaign.

Nobody will ever forget the quarter-final legs against Manchester City, and the trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the semi-final second leg.

Spurs will look to go one better this season in the Champions League after heartbreakingly going down to Liverpool in the final in June.

Their campaign kicks off this week against Olympiacos in Greece in what is seemingly a comfortable group for Spurs to progress to the next round of the competition

But this hasn’t always been the case for Spurs. The club has been placed into some mightily difficult groups in the past, yet have often gone against the odds and progressed to the knockout phase.

Out of the five times Spurs have appeared in the Champions League group stage, we rank them from one to five based on their difficulty.

  1. 2019/20
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • Bayern Munich
  • Olympiacos
  • Red Star Belgrade

Perhaps the easiest group that Spurs have been placed into, Spurs will be looking to reach the knockout stages for the third consecutive season in European competition.

It is difficult to judge at this stage whether the group will challenge Spurs, but on paper, it would be far to say that most will tip Spurs to progress.

Bayern Munich will be Spurs toughest opponent by far. Bayern are the reigning champions of the Bundesliga after a strong season in 2018/19.

Trips away to Serbia and Greece to face Red Star Belgrade and Olympiacos respectively will be challenging in the face of intimidating home support.

Regardless, if Spurs are serious about getting redemption after last season, then they’ll need to jump these early hurdles.

  1. 2016/17
  • AS Monaco – 11pts
  • Bayer Leverkusen – 10pts
  • Tottenham Hotspur – 7pts
  • CSKA Moscow – 3pts

The 2016/17 season marked Spurs’ return to the Champions League after a five-year absence.

The group stage draw was somewhat favourable for Spurs, yet they failed to finish in the top two.

The opening match of the group stage for Spurs was against AS Monaco at Wembley Stadium.

The stadium was packed and the atmosphere was rocking. But Spurs were defeated 1-2 by the eventual Ligue 1 champions.

Spurs only victories came from the home and away leg against CSKA Moscow.

Like Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen came to London and won against the hosts. Also like Monaco, Leverkusen prevented Spurs from winning the away fixture, holding the north Londoners to a 0-0 draw.

It was disappointing for the club and fans alike. It was a group that on paper should have been favourable for Spurs. But they failed to fire.

Spurs were transferred into the Europa League but just like the Champions League group stage once again got dumped – this time by Gent.

  1. 2010/11
  • Tottenham Hotspur – 11pts
  • Inter Milan – 10pts
  • Twente – 6pts
  • Werder Bremen – 5pts

It was a story that began at the end of the previous season.

Spurs travelled to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City in May 2010. For 82 minutes, it seemed that the two sides were heading for a goalless draw.

But Peter Crouch made the match his own and won the game for Spurs in the 82nd minute.

It was the goal that ultimately proved the difference in Spurs bid to qualify for the Champions League.

Champions League hype and excitement was in the air during the 2010/11 season. It was the first time Spurs had qualified for Europe’s elite competition since the 1961/62 season.

They were drawn into a group that spelt danger with a hint of hope.

Inter Milan was the obvious major challenger. Whilst Spurs managed a 3-1 victory in the home fixture, they were defeated at the San Siro despite some Gareth Bale brilliance late on.

Their away form was average – no wins but two draws and a loss.

It was the performances at home that made the difference. Arguably the most memorable moment of the campaign was Spurs 3-1 win against Inter at White Hart Lane.

  1. 2018/19
  • FC Barcelona – 14pts
  • Tottenham Hotspur – 8pts
  • Inter Milan – 8pts
  • PSV Eindhoven – 2pts

Tottenham Hotspur was on the brink of failure during their group stage last season.

Defeats against Inter and Barcelona along with various mistakes that led to a draw against PSV had rattled the north Londoners.

It was a tough draw when it was dealt by UEFA.

Inter was always going to be a challenge, but Barcelona would be the biggest challenge for Spurs in their quest for Champions League glory.

An ugly 2-4 defeat at Wembley Stadium set the tone for the opening matches of the campaign, but their 1-1 draw in the final match was a reflection of the heart and desire to never give up that ultimately got them across the line.

Spurs would use this as fuel for the rest of their campaign, where the continued to defy the odds to book their place in the final against Liverpool.

  1. 2017/18
  • Tottenham Hotspur – 16pts
  • Real Madrid – 13pts
  • Borussia Dortmund – 2pts
  • APOEL – 2pts

After a disappointing 2016/17 European campaign by Spurs, it was good knowing that they’d have another shot the following season.

But when the draw came out, there were danger signs galore.

Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and APOEL were Spurs’ opponents.

It was clear that APOEL would be no problem for Spurs, but trips away to Madrid and Dortmund seemed scary.

Despite the fear factor, the results reflected something completely different to most predictions.

Borussia Dortmund was nowhere to be seen and Real Madrid failed to beat Spurs in both the home and away fixture.

The memorable 3-1 victory at Wembley Stadium against Real Madrid would be the highlight of the group stage.

Spurs went undefeated for the entire group stage, only drawing once to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Whilst it was disappointing to see Spurs exit the competition in the Round of 16, there were plenty of positive signs in the group stage that may have foreshadowed some of their excellent performances that would follow the next season.

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