5 European teams who have surprised everyone this season
At the end of last season, we saw Leicester City win the Premier League, historic outfit Aston Villa suffer relegation and José Mourinho switch blue for red by joining Manchester United. It was a trio of events that reiterates that the football community can no longer be certain of anything in the sport.
It seems that from now on we should anticipate any team getting relegated and any team winning the league at the start of the season, but that’s not to say we aren’t surprised when such bizarre events do unfold; they have done so far this season and we’ve still been caught off guard.
Here we look at five examples of sides across the continent which have exceeded or failed to match our expectations this term and which have shocked us.
#5 Eintracht Frankfurt
Just under 12 months ago, Eintracht Frankfurt were a club in disarray, fighting for their lives. In the 2015/16 campaign, the club finished 16th and only beat the drop by beating 1. FC Nürnberg 2-1 on aggregate in the infamous Bundesliga relegation playoff. The team had survived by the skin of their teeth and fans were expecting heavy recruitment in the summer; all they got were big name players Zambrano, Aigner and Castaignos departing and additions totalling up to a mere €3 million.
As a result, expectations plummeted before the season began and such forecasting may have been just what the club needed, as they won three of their opening four Bundesliga matches this term, beating Schalke and Leverkusen in the process. Now the club are mixing it with the big boys, sitting pretty in 3rd, a point ahead of Borussia Dortmund and having already won more games this season (10) than they did across the entirety of last campaign.
Manager Niko Kovac has utilised the loan market well, bringing in Real Madrid youngsters Omar Mascarell and Jesus Vallejo both of which have been revelations this season for the team. This time last year and the club were lingering in the division’s depths but now they look poised for European football next campaign, a turn-around nobody could have foreseen.