5 Biggest Underachieving Clubs Across Europe This Season

Jordan Edmonds

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Manchester United

After finishing second under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, many believed that Manchester United were going to push on and continue to improve heading into this season. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, that has been far from the case.

United have regressed massively this season, going from potential title challengers to struggling to keep up in the race for the top four.

Following Solskjaer’s sacking in November, Ralf Rangnick took the reins but not even he could help get United’s season back on track. A home defeat to West Ham dumped them out of the Carabao Cup in the Third Round, a disappointing FA Cup exit to Middlesborough saw them knocked out in the Fourth Round, and Atletico Madrid kicked United out of the Champions League in the Round of 16.

It left United on course for another trophyless season, with just a top-four league finish being the only thing that could salvage their season – but they couldn’t even do that.

Arsenal and Tottenham, who themselves have had spells where they have slipped up and hit a bad run of form, have managed to leave United in their dust. Rangnick’s side are set to finish around ten points off the top four, making it their worst-ever Premier League season. They’ll be hoping new boss Erik ten Hag can change fortunes and get United back on track next campaign.

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Benfica

Without a Portuguese Primeira Liga title since the 2018-19 season, many wondered if this was going to be the year that saw Benfica get their hands back on Portugal’s top tier title.

After a €105 million investment, the biggest ever in Portuguese football, saw them end last season without a trophy, they were one of the favourites to land some silverware this campaign.

However, things did not go that way, with manager Jorge Jesus sacked in December following disappointing league defeats at home, losing 1-0 to Portimonense and 3-1 to Sporting Lisbon, as well as a 3-0 defeat to Porto which knocked them out of the Portuguese Cup Round of 16.

Benfica also lost out in the Taca da Liga, losing 3-1 to Sporting Lisbon in the final. In Europe, the Eagles showed a good account of themselves to qualify for the knockout rounds and then beating a strong Ajax side in the first knockout stage but were eliminated by Liverpool at the quarter-final stage.

Benfica finished the season in third place, a huge 11 points behind second-placed Sporting, and a whopping 17 behind eventual winners, Porto. Considering the investment and talent at their disposal, it really was a huge underachievement for Benfica this season.

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Young Boys

After winning the Swiss Super League by a whopping 31 points last season, Young Boys were favourites to claim their fourth-consecutive title this year, but not many would have expected the devastating season that they have endured.

The defending Swiss champions have failed miserably to reclaim their title and are currently in third, 20 points behind champions-elect, FC Zurich, with eight league defeats and 15 wins from 34 games this season.

Young Boys were also knocked out of the Swiss Cup, following a surprise defeat to FC Lugano in the third round as well as finishing bottom in their Champions League group (despite beating Man United at home). The poor season resulted in manager David Wagner losing his job in March.

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Lille

After overachieving to win Ligue 1 last season, Lille weren’t the favourites to beat the almighty PSG again and reclaim their French first division crown, but a better season than the showing this year would surely have been expected.

Last season’s underdog story saw them pip the megabucks of the Parisians by a point and clinch their first league title since 2011.

Les Dogues cashed in on two of their best players in Mike Maignan and Boubakary Soumare in the summer, as well as losing manager Christophe Galtier, but looked on track to be near the top end of the league again when they beat PSG again in the French equivalent of the Super Cup/Community Shield on 1st August.

Lille have fallen well short of those heights though and find themselves in mid-table at the end of this season. They were knocked out of the Coupe de France in just the Round of 32 stage, knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea in the Round of 16, and are set to end the season 14 points off the Champions League spots this season in tenth place.

Their title defence was over a long time ago, with a whopping 29-point gap to PSG.

Whilst it would have been a dream to keep up with PSG at the top, a mid-table finish is well below expectations for the French outfit who still have plenty of star players, such as Renato Sanches, Burak Yilmaz, Jonathan Bamba, Sven Botman, and Jonathan David.

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Juventus

Juventus are another side that, after a poor season last campaign, were expected to return to challenging for the Serie A title at the beginning of the year.

The Old Lady went from dominating Italy’s top flight, to just about finishing in the top four and only just clinching Champions League qualification last season. Former Scudetto-winning boss Max Allegri came back in the summer, so there was optimism that Juve were back to compete at the top.

That hasn’t been the case though, and Juve have struggled again to keep up with the Milan giants. Not even the signing of goal machine Dusan Vlahovic has helped Allegri’s side stay in the title picture.

Juventus were beaten in the final of both the Supercoppa and Coppa Italia by Inter, as well as being knocked out to Villareal in the Champions League Round of 16. They are once again set to end the season in fourth place, thirteen points off table-topping Milan with just one game to play.

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