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Just Who Are Stade de Reims?

Wednesday 18th September 2013
James Meredith takes a look at one of the lesser known teams that have taken part in European Football.

Champions League football is back with the first set of matches kicking off this week. With this in mind, I have decided to delve deep into the competition's past to explore an unwanted bond between a fashionable club from Spain and a team that returned to the top flight of French football last year after a 33 year hiatus.

I think it's safe to say that the majority of football fans will have heard of Spanish side Valencia. But can the same be said of the French team Stade de Reims?

Well the two clubs actually share an unenviable accolade.

They are the only two teams to have played in a European Cup final more than once and lost on each occasion.

Valencia were the losing finalists in 2000 and 2001 to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. In losing to the Germans (on penalties naturally), Valencia matched an unenviable statistic that had been set by Stade de Reims and stood for 42 years.

Stade de Reims lost their European Cup finals in 1956 (the inaugural competition) and then in 1959, both to Real Madrid.

The French club have a history that I think it's fair to say has been up and down. Their first two managers were in fact an Englishman (David Harrison, 1931-34) and a Scotsman (Billy Aitken, 1934-36). But there's no punch line to follow.

The record books show Stade de Reims to be the joint sixth most successful French club in terms of top flight championships won with six titles. This is as many as PSG and Lille combined.

However, since the 1980s, the club has struggled, hovering between the second and third tiers of French football since they were relegated from the top flight in 1979, until their return last year.

Will Stade de Reims ever make Europe's flagship competition again? Perhaps unlikely. Valencia? Probably.

But right now it's the French club that can enjoy looking at their league table following a decent first five games that has seen them lose just once and consequently sit in 6th position. Valencia meanwhile have won just one of their opening four games and lie down in 15th place.

As for their joint record being matched this season, well that's in the hands of Atlético Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Arsenal.
James Meredith
Man Utd fan, Sopranos fanatic, Only Fools & Horses aficionado, tennis club captain, amateur poker player, pseudo-ambidextrous & a PR Account Director to pay the bills.

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