Biggest Champions League shocks of the season: How much further can Copenhagen go?

We now know the 16 teams that will participate in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) knockout stages, ahead of the draw taking place on Monday. Many of the usual suspects have made it through, but there have also been a few surprises, as we analyse the biggest Champions League shocks of the season so far.

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The biggest shock of the UCL campaign so far has undoubtedly been Copenhagen getting through to the knockouts. Drawn from pot three, they were placed in a group with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Galatasaray – the former two having nine UCL titles between them.

The Danes have only qualified for the knockout stages once before – reaching the round of 16 in 2010/11 – and that is the furthest that they have ever been in the competition. As such, doing it again is a monumental achievement in itself.

Their biggest result in the group stage was the 4-3 win against Manchester United in Denmark, having had to come back from 2-0 down, and also score late to turn the tie on its head. Nonetheless, it would be a real shock to see them progress further, and they may need the luck of the draw to give them the best possible chance.

Copenhagen are in pot two having finished second in their group, and so can face anyone other than Bayern Munich from pot one, as they were in their group. There are some particularly daunting teams to avoid, like UCL holders Manchester City and 14x winners Real Madrid, but others that they may fancy themselves over two legs.

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Struggling in 10th place in Serie A, not many may have predicted Lazio to progress from a group that contained Spanish giants Atletico Madrid, top seeds Feyenoord and Celtic – the latter two having won the UCL before.

Low and behold, the Italians did just that, and they are one of three teams from the country to make the knockout stage. Lazio have only reached the knockouts twice before, with the quarter-finals the furthest they have ever gotten to, so progressing to the knockouts this time around is a big achievement.

Their best result in the group stage was arguably in a game they did not win – holding Atletico Madrid 1-1 at home on matchday one, as goalkeeper Ivan Provedel scored a dramatic late equaliser. Atletico went unbeaten in all six matches, so to take points off of them early set the tone for a successful group  stage.

Like Copenhagen, Lazio are in pot two of the draw having finished runner-up, and can draw anyone from pot one except Atletico. Nonetheless, with the calibre of teams left in the competition, it is difficult to see them progressing much further.

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Photo by Icon sport

Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad are the only team who were in pot four of the original group stage draw to make it through to the knockouts. Not only that, they progressed as group winners, in a group containing last season's finalists Inter Milan, 2x winners Benfica and Salzburg.

This is the first time that the La Liga side are playing in the competition for a decade, making their achievement more remarkable, and they have only reached the knockout stages twice before, with their best finish being the semi-finals in 1982/83.

Sociedad's biggest result, or results in the group stage, were probably holding Inter to two draws, notably a 0-0 at San Siro on matchday six to ensure that they finished top of their group.

Nonetheless, they will fancy themselves against most teams from pot two, although they may be looking to avoid the likes of PSG and Napoli.

Photo by Icon sport

Biggest Champions League shocks of the season – Current outrights

To reach the semi-finals

  • Copenhagen – 28/1
  • Lazio – 11/1
  • Real Sociedad – 7/1

To reach the final

  • Copenhagen – 250/1
  • Lazio – 66/1
  • Real Sociedad – 25/1

To win the UCL

  • Copenhagen – 500/1
  • Lazio – 150/1
  • Real Sociedad – 80/1

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Adam Clancy

Adam is a lead writer on Football Whispers. He is a big Arsenal fan, and also follows his local club Wealdstone, made famous by The Wealdstone Raider, of whom he has interviewed. Adam also follows darts, boxing, cricket and tennis, among many other sports.