With January almost in the rearview mirror, most leagues have completed more than half of their season. Therefore, there is no room to say for any club that “it’s just a blip”, or “they’ll fall off”.
Surprise upstarts like Girona in La Liga have shown that they are where they are on merit and won’t fall away anytime soon this year. Similarly, the clubs from which a lot was expected but are down in the doldrums is just what they are this season.
Here are five such clubs which have been the biggest disappointment relative to what was expected of them this season (one from each league means the mentioned club is the biggest disappointment in that league)-
Premier League- Chelsea
It was a tough fight between Chelsea and Manchester United but ultimately, the points table won out as United are less worse between the two, gaining 32 points from 21 games compared to 31 by Chelsea.
Again, these are hardly shining totals, especially considering the amount spent by both clubs, mainly Chelsea. A lot was expected at Stamford Bridge this season with Mauricio Pochettino leading a youth project. However, the reality has been that of a jumbled mess on the pitch with the youngsters looking like deer in headlights in a team that has seen a remarkable amount of instability due to new signings and injuries.
A 6-1 win against Middlesbrough in the League Cup semifinal could be the turning point but judgement should be reserved because they haven’t been consistent.
United could have easily been the choice here as well since their fall from grace has been harder than Chelsea’s when comparing last season’s performance to this.
La Liga- Sevilla
One look at the La Liga table shows pretty much every team where you would normally expect them to be. But then Girona makes the eyes bigger near the top. Equally as big is the shock at seeing Sevilla flirting with relegation.
Just two seasons ago, they were the Champions League representatives of Spain along with the big three. They won the Europa League last season even though the decline in the league had begun, finishing 12th.
This season, however, has been a trainwreck. At one point they had more head coaches appointed than wins. They are just a point above the relegation zone having lost their last four.
Relegation for one of the generally “best of the rest” clubs will be the biggest story in La Liga season this season unless Girona win it all.
Serie A- Napoli
The higher you rise, the harder you fall. Perhaps no other club will be feeling that saying quite like Napoli this season. Last season’s massive title success has paved the way for a crashing down to earth this year.
Their key players are fighting a proxy war through their agents in the media, their title-winning head coach jumped ship before the season began, and the new managers in the dugout look like dead men walking. With just nine wins in 20 games, they are already 21 points behind league leaders Juventus.
At least they’ll always have that title to look back on.
Ligue 1 – Lyon
Outside of the giants, new and traditional, like PSG, Marseille, Monaco, or even Lens last season, Lyon have been one of the most historically accomplished clubs in France.
Therefore, it’s shocking to see them in a Sevilla-like position where they’re flirting with automatic relegation. Before a recent upturn in form, they were rooted to the bottom of the table, looking like a guarantee to go down.
Financial problems and upheaval in the executive structure has sent them in a downward spiral despite having talent like Alexandre Lacazette, Rayan Cherki, and Corentin Tolisso in their ranks.
Surely too good to get relegated? One would think so but then again, they were too good to find themselves in this position in the first place.
Bundesliga – Union Berlin
It feels harsh to put Union Berlin as a disappointment since last season was the one where they truly crashed the party and subverted all expectations with an unlikely fourth-place finish and UCL qualification.
This season, after almost half of the games played, they are three points off relegation places. The reality of Union Berlin is probably somewhere between those two extremes. However, considering where they were last season, such a huge comedown is undoubtedly a disappointment.
Union Berlin can be called victims of their own success but football has never been understanding of it.