A vestige of the time when UEFA organised three separate competitions - the European Champion Clubs' Cup (C1), the Cup Winners' Cup (C2) and the UEFA Cup (C3) - the latter competition continues to be known as "C3", despite being merged with the "C2" back in 1999. Since renamed the UEFA Europa League, AS Monaco has previously taken part in its various manifestations of the competition no fewer than nine times.
Bad luck in Bulgaria...
AS Monaco's first experience in C3 goes back to the 1979-1980 season. After knocking out Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 64 (losing 2-1 in Ukraine and winning the second leg 2-0 in the Principality), Jeannot Petit and his teammates were beaten by Lokomotiv Sofia in the next round (4-2 & 2-1). Two years later, in 1981-1982, the Red & Whites made a hash of their first leg in the round of 64, going down to a 5-2 defeat at home to Dundee United. Despite a face-saving win in Scotland in the second leg (2-1), they went out an aggregate. they suffered a similar fate in 1984-1985 against CSKA Sofia, the other big club in the Bulgarian capital, with a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Monaco, followed by a 2-1 defeat in Bulgaria.
The 1990s were more productive for AS Monaco in this competition. In 1990-1991, Arsène Wenger's men made it to the last 16 after disposing of Roda JC Kerkrade (round fo 64) and Chornomorets Odessa (round of 16), but were beaten by Torpedo Moscow (2-1 & 1-2). Their UEFA Cup campaign in 1995-1996 was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it affair, involving a heavy 3-0 defeat to Leeds United at the Louis-II, with a 1-0 win in the return leg insufficient to turn the tie around. But the following season saw AS Monaco's best ever run in C3.
In 1995-1996, Krakow (round of 64), Moenchengladbach (round of 32), Hamburg (round of 16) and Newcastle (quarter-finals) were all disposed off as Jean Tigana's side fought their way to a semi-final against Inter Milan. But the Red & Whites would pay a heavy price for their very poor start to the match at the San Siro. After going three goals down inside 40 minutes, they pulled one back in the second half as the first leg ended 3-1 to the Italians. In the end, the Monegasques' 1-0 victory in the second leg was purely honorific...
The first all-French encounter
Two years later in 1998-1999, the first all-French meeting in European competition saw Olympique de Marseille emerge victorious in the round of 32 (a 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Louis-II, followed by a 1-0 win for Marseille in the second leg). Prior to that, AS Monaco had seen off LKS Lodz and Graz AK. In 1999-2000, the only time the Red & Whites have ever taken part in C3 for two years running, they beat Saint-Johnstone, Widzew Lodz and AEK Athens before being knocked out by Real Majorca in the last 16 (losing 4-1 in Spain and winning 1-0 in Monaco).
Finally, in their most recent UEFA Europa League appearance in the 2005-2006 season, also after losing a UEFA Champions League play-off, AS Monaco got off to the perfect start against Dutch outfit Willem II Tilburg (2-0 & 3-1), before easing past Viking Stavanger, Hamburg, Slavia Prague and CSKA Sofia. Unfortunately, Francesco Guidolin's side suffered an upset in Basel (losing 1-0), and were held to a 1-1 draw by the Swiss team in the return leg. Thus began a period of nine Europe-free years for AS Monaco, before their triumphant return to "C1" in 2014...