Top 5 European clubs of the 21st century
The 21st century has been an eventful one in football, with hitherto unrenowned clubs rising to global prominence, while others who were giants of the past fell off the mainstream map into relative obscurity or mediocrity.
New rules have redefined the way we watch the beautiful game, tactics evolved to completely alter previously established formations, leading to a rise in the use of lone strikers and inverted wingers and two men have dominated the game more than any other pair in the history of the sport.
The rise in the use of social media and advancement in technologies have brought have fans closer than ever to their favorite clubs and made the game even more global.
Increased financial prosperity massively changed the transfer market and helped a handful clubs consolidate their superiority over others and this manifested in their near-total dominance of the various domestic leagues and continental competitions.
As in any other era, some clubs have been more successful than others and with the third decade of the 21st century about to begin, we shall be taking a look at the five best teams of the 21st century using parameters like trophies won, quality of players, historical milestones achieved, and overall success enjoyed so far in the century.
Honorable mentions: Juventus, PSG, Manchester City, Inter Milan
#5 Chelsea (England)
It was a very difficult decision to put Chelsea on this list at the expense of Juventus but the fact that the Bianconerri are yet to win a continental trophy in this century robs some sheen off their accomplishments in Serie A.
Chelsea began the 21st century much like they had in their previous years - as one of the also-rans in England, - and you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who would have predicted the success that was to follow for the Londoners.
It all began when the club was taken over by Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovic in July 2003 for the sum of £140m.
A year later, the club made its best showing in the Champions League to that point, narrowly falling to AS Monaco in the semifinal of the Champions League.
In the immediate aftermath of their Champions League ouster, Abramovic broke the bank to sign the Champions League-winning manager Jose Mourinho and the Portuguese gaffer was just in time to win the club its first league title after exactly five decades in 2005 which was also coincidentally Chelsea's centenary year.
Mourinho's tactical nous coupled with Abramovic's unlimited spending transformed Chelsea into a superpower virtually overnight and the club disrupted the footballing hierarchy in England, knocking Manchester United and Arsenal from their previously hallowed perch.
World-beaters like John Obi Mikel, Didier Drogba, Andriy Shevchenko, Michael Ballack, John Terry, and Frank Lampard represented the Londoners with distinction and multiple trophies were won in what was undoubtedly the club's golden era.
After many seasons of near-misses and heartbreaks, an unlikely Champions League trophy was finally won in 2012, making Chelsea the first London club to win Europe's premier club competition, while the Europa League was added a season later to add the club to a hallowed list of five to have won all three of UEFA's major club competitions.
So far, The Blues have won 18 major trophies in this century, with Jose Mourinho contributing to eight of those and while the days of extravagant spending on proven stars seem to be over, young academy graduates are leading the march into the new era.