FC Augsburg bowed out of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with their helds held high. - © © imago
FC Augsburg bowed out of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with their helds held high. - © © imago

Daredevil Augsburg strike a chord in Europe

Despite falling to Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool FC in the Round of 32, provincial Bavarian outfit FC Augsburg are the real winners of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League.

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In the end, there was only one goal in the decisive two-legged tie - a James Milner penalty at that - as the humble Fuggerstädter earned worldwide recognition for pushing one of club football's traditional giants to the very limit of their powers.

Match report: Liverpool 1-0 Augsburg

Drama from the start

- © gettyimages / Clive Brunskill / Staff

Natural-born fighters

It is a story just about as unexpected as the fifth-placed finish at the end of the 2014/15 Bundesliga campaign that catapulted Augsburg into the competition in the first place. Four years after gaining promotion to Germany's top flight, the club suddenly found themselves in the company of some of European football's finest for their first time in their modest history.

Expectations were reined in somewhat following chastening defeats to Athletic de Bilbao and FK Partizan Belgrade in their opening two Group L matches, but back-to-back wins over AZ Alkmaar set them on a course for the knockout rounds. They were made to sweat after letting slip a 2-1 lead in defeat to Bilbao, before getting the 3-1 victory needed to progress at Partizan's expense on Matchday 6.

Heartened for the fight

As Reuter alluded to, Augburg's maiden European voyage has indeed had a knock-on effect domestically, with the yo-yoing Bavarians currently sitting just four points clear of 16th-placed SV Werder Bremen in the pre-Matchday 23 standings. Nonetheless, although there is still a long road ahead to set that particular record straight, the watching world will doubtless agree that Germany's second tier is no place for the infectious camaraderie and collective zeal of a club like FCA.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

- © gettyimages / Matthias Hangst / Staff