Unlikely Football Champions: A Legacy of Surprises in European Leagues
In the wake of an impressive 2-4 victory against Barcelona, Girona stands at 44 points, solidifying its lead in the La Liga table. The Red and Whites, currently +2 against Real Madrid and +9 against defending champions Barca and Atletico Madrid, are on the brink of achieving what few expected. Drawing parallels to Leicester’s historic Premier League win, Girona’s unexpected success has captured the essence of football surprises.
When discussing La Liga surprises, “Super Depor” of Javier Irureta immediately comes to mind. Champions of Spain at the turn of the millennium, Deportivo La Coruña achieved this feat thanks to Roi’s goals, the virtuosity of Djalminha, and the expectations of Herrera. They finished +4 against Barca and Valencia, leaving an indelible mark on Spanish football.
Thirty-nine years ago, Hellas Verona, under the management of Bagnoli, secured their first and only Serie A title. Against all odds, they triumphed over Maradona’s Napoli, Platini’s Juve, and Rumenige’s Inter. The team, boasting talents like Galderisi, Brigel, and Elkjaer, etched their names in Italian football history.
“Dilly ding dilly dong! We are in the Champions League, man!” Claudio Ranieri’s exclamation encapsulates the miracle of Leicester City’s 2015-2016 English Premier League victory. With Vardi and Mahrez in attack, Schmeichel guarding the posts, and Kante in midfield, the “foxes” defied all odds. Seven years later, they faced relegation, opting to restart their journey under Italian coach Enzo Maresca.
Over forty years ago, manager Brian Clough led Nottingham Forest to a historic triple triumph. From promotion to the First Division in 1977 to triumphs in England in 1978 and European victories in 1979 and 1980, Forest’s golden era remains unmatched.
In 1995, Blackburn Rovers scripted a beautiful fairy tale in English football. A dream start to the season, led by the attacking duo “Sas” (Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton), saw them secure the championship. Just three years prior, Blackburn was in the second division, emphasizing the unpredictability of football.
Football surprises aren’t exclusive to England, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. In 2010, Bursaspor interrupted the dominance of Turkish giants like Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, while Boavista finished ahead of Porto, Benfica, and Sporting Lisbon, proving that football’s magic extends beyond the traditional football powerhouses.
In conclusion, these stories remind us that football is a game of unpredictability and that, every now and then, the defying expectations and leaving an indelible mark on the sport.