3. The new entrants
Ludogorets Razgrad, Apoel Nicosia, Bate Borisov and Maribor have all made it to the group stages. Even the presence of Malmo harks back to the old European Cup.It is rare to have a group stage with quite so many minnows and while the statistics would say that they are just there to make up the numbers, Apoel’s run to the quarter finals in 2011-12 offers some hope that they can do something other than aim for third spot and a place in the Europa League.
The first two games has provided some surprising results too. Ludogorets put up a great fight against Real Madrid, Apoel too didn’t disappoint against Barcelona and Ajax, Malmo has upsetted Olympiakos with a 2-0 win. Football over the years has been unpredictable in many ways and we hope that some of these teams make it to that extra mile. After all the fans root for the underdogs.