The 2012/13 season will always be one that true Dortmund fans will look fondly upon, although they didn’t win anything and collapsed in typical German fashion, they let the world know that on their day, they are as good as anyone else in Europe.

With players like Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Robert Lewandowski, Neven Subotic and Lukasz Piszczek being noticed as a group of the world's best, they are in danger of losing them all to bigger teams with a more stable future, with Gotze already a Bayern Munich player, with Lewandowski looking likely to follow, the future is bleak for Die Borussen.

In the early 2000s we were witnessing a very similar scenario, a small German team leaving a trail of embarrassed European giants behind them en route to the Champions League final, where Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid lay in wait. 

They matched Los Blancos for much of the game, but it was the legendary Frenchman who settled it with that spectacular volley, and Leverkusen would go on to win nothing, which bestowed upon them the nickname of ‘Bayer Neverkusen’.  

In the following summer, they lost Michael Ballack, Lucio, Ze Roberto and Yildiray Basturk, the following season they would be eliminated at the second group stage, finishing bottom after crushing defeats at the hands of FC Barcelona and then FC Internazionale.

Ever since, they haven’t been the same, and Dortmund are in danger of following in their footsteps, and if they lose all of their greatest talents and fail to replace them properly, they may not pass the group stages.

However, it is not just Leverkusen who have proven that when smaller teams lose their best players they don’t come back for a long time. 

From 2003-2009, AS Roma were regulars in the latter stages of the Champions League, but after losing Mancini, David Pizarro, Phillipe Mexes and Mirko Vucinic, they fell apart and haven’t been in the competition since.

While Valencia went a step further and made it  to consecutive finals, but lost both and then lost their manager Rafael Benitez to Liverpool, then lost some of their star players like Gaizka Mendieta, Kily Gonzalez and Gerard Lopez. 

They haven’t been past the quarter-finals since, and pulled the same stunt a few years later, selling David Villa, David Silva, Juan Mata and most recently Tino Costa.

In 2003/04 we also seen another small club defy the odds, as AS Monaco reached the final of the Champions League, just to be crushed by FC Porto. After losing the final, they also couldn’t keep Jaroslav Plasil, Ludovic Giuly, Shabani Nonda, Emmanuel Adebayor and Dado Prso. 

Clubs in the past 10 years aren't the only clubs who have failed to stay successful, as Crvena Zvezda’s legendary team of 1991 was taken apart, mainly by AC Milan and Barcelona, and Ajax’s last great team of 1995 was also separated.

It will be a shame if another of Europe’s great underdogs crash and burn again, but as it has been proven so many times before, small teams usually stay small.

 

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