Four clubs from a country making it to the UEFA Champions League group stages is common but this year, there will be five teams from Spain. Barcelona (Defending Champions), Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and now Valencia have qualified for this year’s Champions League.
But it could have been England during the 2012-13 Champions League campaign. Remember, when Chelsea surprisingly defeated Bayern Munich in the finals and gained automatic qualification to the group stages at the cost of Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs lost their place as the rules at the time did not permit more than four teams from a single country.
This year onwards, UEFA introduced a special reward for the winners of the Europa League, granting them a berth with the finest teams of Europe. And, Spanish outfit Sevilla were the first to benefit winning the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League. This would not have been possible otherwise, as they finished fifth in La Liga.
Former Man City striker scored the crucial goal for ValenciaAlvaro Negredo goal helps Valencia
The French team managed to win the game with a 2-1 finish but that was not good enough as Valencia clinched the tie 4-3 on aggregate. Thus, making their way back among Europe’s finest teams after a gap of two years.
For Valencia it was the crucial strike of the former Manchester City forward Alvaro Negredo in the fourth minute that extended the Spanish team’s lead. Negredo took advantage of a poor pass by Fabinho and made his way towards the goal, chipping the ball over the Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. The striker would himself be pleased with his performance, specially after making a substitute appearance during the first leg win in Spain.
And, probably at the time Negredo struck the goal, he won’t have thought that his goal would decide his club’s fate in the competition.