While the fans bask in the glory of table-topping teams like Leicester City, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich, there is a lot of disappointment and ire brewing among the supporters of the teams in the lower half of the table.
Chelsea have been the obvious disappointment this season in the Premier League. However, a number of teams across Europe who were expected to do well on the domestic circuit have been performing below par so far this season.
While some are trying to avoid relegation, others are struggling in a mid-table fight, suddenly finding themselves in the midst of teams that they would have otherwise dismissed. Let us take a look at some of the teams across Europe that are not playing as well as they were expected to.
The most obvious team on this list has to be Chelsea, due to their woeful performances this season. The Blues, who had started the season off as the defending Premier League champions, have been one of the biggest disappointments. With a dressing room revolt being widely reported, the Blues found themselves floundering around the bottom parts of the Premier League table.
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Under Jose Mourinho’s reign, Chelsea got merely 17 points from 16 matches, and have only improved themselves after interim boss Guus Hiddink was appointed to the hot seat. Chelsea are now safe from the relegation zone, but had they been going at the same rate as they were under Mourinho, they would have been around the 27-point mark, which would have placed them a couple of places above the dreaded relegation zone.
Defence has been a huge concern for Chelsea, which is quite surprising, given the club’s brilliant track record at the back. Just to put things into perspective, they had conceded merely 32 goals in 38 Premier League matches last season. This season however, they have already conceded 36 from just 26 Premier League encounters.
All of Markus Gisdol’s good work at Hoffenheim seems to have been undone this season, as the Kraichgauers have slipped from being one of the most exciting teams on the Bundesliga table, fighting a relegation battle this season. Huub Stevens’s appointment as the manager at the start of the season seems to have disrupted the impressive momentum that Hoffenheim had built up over the past few seasons.
In fact, Gisdol had started off his first season at the club with a bang, as Hoffenheim became the third highest scorers in the Bundesliga 2013/14 season, with 72 goals. However, they also conceded the second highest number of goals that season (70), and ended eighth — just two spots away from a place in the Europa League qualifiers. They improved their defence in the next season, and managed to get one step closer to Europe, missing out on a Europa League spot by just two points.
Naturally their target this season would have been to get into Europe. However, that has been far from the case, as the club is currently battling relegation. Stevens’s resignation due to health reasons has also not helped the club in particular, but new manager Julian Nagelsmann has gotten off the mark with a win in his second match in charge at Hoffenheim. Nagelsmann is the youngest manager to take charge of a Bundesliga club, and seems to have started off in the right direction with a 3-2 win over Mainz.
One of the more exciting teams in Germany, Augsburg has thrilled all Fußball fans for the last couple of seasons by finishing eighth and fifth in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons respectively — far from the hustle and bustle of a relegation battle that they were expected to fight. Markus Weinzierl has taken the club forward step by step, first avoiding relegation, and then going on to challenge for the European spots.
This season however, the Fuggerstädters seem to have lost their way and are back to fighting a relegation battle yet again. With just 12 games to go in the current Bundesliga table, Augsburg find themselves just four points clear of the dreaded relegation playoff spot.
Weinzierl seemed to have found some sort of a balance between the defence and the attack in the last couple of seasons. This balance is actually quite a literal one, as Augsburg finished with a goal difference of zero in both the 2013/14 (goals for: 47, goals against: 47) and the 2-14/15 (goals for: 43; goal against: 43) seasons.
Valencia are a very curious case this season. In spite of having top quality players like Shkodran Mustafi, Daniel Parejo, and Sofiane Feghouli, Los Che have struggled this season. While they are normally expected to finish among the European spots on the La Liga table, the Oranges have gone down to the 11th place on the table this season.
Valencia had appointed former Manchester United captain and England national team assistant coach Gary Neville as their manager in December. However, even the arrival of someone as high profile as Neville does not seem to have helped the club much. In fact, Valencia had to go through a spell of horrendous performances during the last couple of months, when they went on a nine-match winless run in La Liga. Neville’s lack of experience as a top level manager, in a completely new footballing environment where he barely knew the language, has been cited as one of the reasons why Los Che are struggling in mid table right now.
The Nerazzurri have been hovering in and around the Europa League spots on the Serie A table. However, this season was supposed to be the time they got back to their former glories. They were at least expected to qualify for the Champions League, as manager Roberto Mancini made large scale changes to his squad.
However, since the season restarted after the winter break, Inter Milan have lost four of their 10 Serie A matches, and have accrued merely 12 out of 30 points from the league in the second half. This poor run of performances has pushed Inter Milan down from the top spot in the Seire A to the fifth place. The two latest hammer blows that Roberto Mancini’s side recieved are the 3-0 losses at the hands of defending champion Juventus, and arch rivals AC Milan.