5 teams who have been pleasant surprises in the 2017/18 Champions League so far
The group stages of the Champions League are almost done - which sides have been pleasantly surprising thus far?
The group stage of the 2017/18 Champions League is almost over already – where did that time go? With just one game remaining for all of the teams, most of the pieces have been set for the knockout stages to begin, although a handful of groups are yet to be decided.
Some of the usual suspects have done just as well as you’d expect, while a handful of others have struggled a little more. Meanwhile, some sides have performed above and beyond expectations – as Monaco did last season – and look to be freshening up the competition quite heavily. Here are five teams who have been pleasant surprises in this year’s UEFA Champions League....so far, of course.
#1 Tottenham Hotspur
This one was probably obvious. Despite their massive improvements since the arrival in 2014 of Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham had still found it hard going in Europe. Last season’s Champions League experience, in particular, was a disaster for them, as they crashed out in the group stages following losses to Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen. And when this season’s draw was made – pitting them against reigning champions Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL Nicosia – it looked like trouble.
Instead, Spurs have simply breezed through the group without a care in the world. They hammered APOEL as was expected, but have also beaten Dortmund home and away and also managed to beat Real over their two meetings, drawing 1-1 in the Bernabeu before defeating them 3-1 at Wembley.
Talk about Real having a bad season thus far all you like, but they’re still the defending champions and in Cristiano Ronaldo, they still have the best player in the world. And yet they were outclassed by Spurs, particularly in the second tie.
The likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli remain key players and have been on fire – Kane scoring 6 goals thus far – while players such as Harry Winks and Heung-Min Son have also developed into stars under Pochettino and have performed above and beyond their perceived abilities.
Pochettino’s two major summer signings, defenders Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier, have also added even more steel to Tottenham’s already formidable spine. Contenders for the Champions League? After their group stage showing you’d have to say so.