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Analysis: Real Madrid’s group in the Champions League

How much do you really know about APOEL, Dortmund & Spurs?

Real Madrid CF v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Match Day #1 of the UEFA Champions League isn’t that far off, and Real Madrid head out in search of their third Champions League title in as many seasons on September 13th against APOEL FC.

We may have our ‘Q&A’s with the enemy’ regularly on Managing Madrid, but how well do we really know them? Now, I’m not talking about stats or who’s the hottest player. I want to know more about the club, it’s history, and to a point, it’s culture.

I’m going to take you through the teams that Real Madrid will face in this upcoming edition of the Champions League. I hope to shed some light on their histories, and hoping I’ve dug up something you might not have know about the three other clubs.


The club has been operating since 1926 and is perhaps the most popular football club in Cyprus. Not only are they popular, but, they also happen to be the best team in the country, collecting 26 league titles, 21 cups and 13 super cups.

Last term, they had their best season in European play by winning their group in the 2016/2017 Europa League. They managed to knock out Athletic Bilbao and advance to the round-of-16 where their European quest would come to an end with a loss to RSC Anderlecht.

2014/2015 was the last time APOEL was in the Champions League. They’ve only been in the competition three times in their history, this year being the third.

The club was founded in 1926 and the domestic league wouldn’t come around until 1930. So during those non-league days they played a lot of friendlies. It was in APOEL’s clubhouse in 1930, that the Cyprus Football Association was born. Then, just a short two years after, they would celebrate their first league title.

APOEL are just a part of a bigger athletic club. Like Real Madrid they have a basketball team, but they also have volleyball, archery and more. They have an academy system that is it’s own legal entity, where they are responsible for the under-21’s of football, basketball and volleyball.

The 1990’s are considered the most successful decade in the club’s history. They won three titles, five cups and four supercups. If you were to look to a point during that decade, look no further than 1995-1996. They and the basketball team won the double that year with the football club going undefeated.

They are also the youngest team in the group.

Borussia Dortmund

The club was born in December of 1909 because a group of footballers were tired of the treatment they were receiving from the coach of Trinity Youth — a team sponsored by the Catholic church. They formed the team as their coach was trying to beat down the door of the room they were using at the local tavern. The first time they hit the pitch as Borussia Dortmund they wore blue and white stripes with a red sash. They wouldn’t don the black and yellow until 1913. The team has over 140,000 members making them the second largest sports club in Germany.

Borussia is the latin equivalent of Prussia, but that’s not why they named the team Borussia Dortmund. The guys that founded the team named the team after the local brewery, Borussia Brewery. In the early years, they played in the Oberliga West, a first division league and the most popular in the 1950’s.

The Bundesliga wouldn’t start play until 1963 where Dortmund would get an automatic slot because they won the last national title of the old league. They would go on and win their first domestic cup, the DFB-Pokal, in 1965. A year later they would win the European Winners Cup against Liverpool in extra time.

The 70’s were not kind to Dortmund. They had financial problems, and in 1972, they got relegated to the second division and wouldn’t get back to the Bundesliga until 1974. The money problems would follow them into the 80’s where they almost got relegated again in 1986, having to beat Fortuna Köln in a playoff to stay up.

While the 70’s and 80’s seemed to be a major downer, the 90’s were looking up for the club. There, they found more success than the previous two decades. After a dismal tenth place finish, coach Horst Köppel was fired and replaced by Ottmar Hitzfeld. It would be Hitzfeld in 1992 that would lead the club to a second place finish in the Bundesliga, and they would have won the title had not VfW Stuttgart won their final match of the season. In 1996/97 they would reach their first European Cup final, where Dortmund beat Juventus to lift the trophy.

At the turn of the 21st Century, Borussia Dortmund would be the first and so far only publicly traded club on the German stock market. In 2002 they would top the Bundesliga on the final day. They flirted with relegation again in 2006-2007, narrowly avoiding it to remain in the Bundesliga.

They are the third youngest club in the group.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs are the oldest team in the group, having been founded in 1882. The boys that formed the club were members of Hotspur Cricket Club, but wanted a sport to play during the winter so they picked football. Hotspur Football Club in 1884 renamed themselves as Tottenham Hotspur as to not cause any confusion with the club London Hotspur.

In 1908 (Real Madrid was just a youngster at sixyears old) Spurs were elected to play in the Football Second Division and won promotion to the First Division that season winning the second division championship. At the end of the 1914-15 season they were bottom of the league and football was suspended for the first World War. When the war was over and play resumed, they were relegated to the second division.

In 1963 they would beat Atlético Madrid for the European Cup Winners trophy by a score line of 5-1 in the final, and they were the first British club to win it. They would add another title in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup, though the early 70’s were not good for Spurs overall.

Getting out of the 70’s, things seemed to start turning around for Tottenham Hotspur. Because of debt and other factors, they would change the boardroom and took the team in a more commercial direction.

The Lilywhites would be one of the five teams that would push for the founding of the Premier League, created with the approval of the FA. It would replace the Football League First Division. They’ve won the league cup in 1999 and 2008, and have mostly finished mid-table on and off since then. Last season they finished in third behind Champions Chelsea FC and Arsenal who were just a point above Spurs.

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