18+ | Commercial Content | T&Cs apply | Begambleaware.org
As we approach the final stages of the season in the major European leagues we felt that this was a good time to have a look around to see just which sides haven't pulled their weight. We will be identifying the clubs which had decent expectations ahead of the 2021/22 campaign but have fallen flat on their faces for one reason or another. Some of these teams may well be battling relegation, sitting in mid-table obscurity, or even still in the hunt for a spot in the aptly named Conference League next season but all have had poor domestic campaigns.
The highest Man Utd can finish this season is 6th which might not sound so bad but when you consider that this is the club's lowest ever points tally for a Premier League campaign and that they are well off the pace in the race for the Champions League places, you can see why they are big underachievers this season.
Bringing in Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle and many of their fans expected the Red Devils to give Liverpool and Man City a run for their money. However, despite Ronaldo bagging plenty of goals, the Portuguese star's arrival seems to have upset the balance of the side and looks like it may have caused some issues in the dressing room as well.
Harry Maguire, brought in to lead the Man Utd defence in 2019, has had a dreadful season. Many of United's own fans have turned against the former Leicester City star due to a string of costly displays and below-par performance throughout the season, all this from a player that cost the club £80m.
The Foxes were expected to challenge for the European places by their league position this season but instead, their form in the Premier League has been very hit and miss, leading the club to finish bang in mid-table.
Away from home Leicester have been terrible and if it hadn't been for their run to the semi-finals of the Conference League, Brendan Rodgers probably would have been shown the door this season. Injuries have certainly played their part in the Foxes' poor campaign but to be sat 14th with four games left to play just isn't good enough for the quality of players in that squad.
With Rafa Benitez at the helm, many pundits fancied Everton to challenge for the European places this season. Ancelotti just missed out on Europe in the previous campaign and Everton managed to keep a hold of their key players in the summer. However, poor recruitment and a lack of funds due to FFP rules, left Everton's squad looking bare in certain positions and when the injury list began to mount up, the results suffered.
Benitez inevitably got the sack and Frank Lampard has come in. Everton on the road have still been dire this season but a recent win at Leicester has given the Toffees a chance of escaping relegation this season. Everton looked doomed to go down under Benitez and it hasn't been plain sailing for Lampard either with a squad for of overpriced charlatans that looked like they might not have the character to keep this famous club in the top flight, and the battles for survival could go all the way down to the final game of the season.
Juventus have secured Champions League football for next season but they haven't looked capable of challenging for the Serie A title this season. The club got off to its worst-ever start to a season but gradually improved enough to now sit 4th -n the table with two games left to play. Bringing Moise Kean back to the club looks to have been a mistake as the young forward has failed to score the goals everyone expected of him and Juve are now trying to convince Everton now to force them to pay the full fee to make his move to Turin permanent. Injuries have been hard on Juve in the second half of the season and if they fail to win the Coppa Italia final against Inter Milan this week then it will go down as one of their worst campaigns in a long time.
Atalanta looked like they might challenge for the title last season but this time around the club find themselves sitting 8th in the table and in danger of not qualifying for European football of any kind in 2022/23. Consistency has been lacking from the team this season, the goals have been there but the defence has struggled and there have been too many draws that should have been won.
With two games left to play, Sampdoria are still not safe from relegation this season. Admittedly, the teams below them don't look to have back-to-back wins in them to really cause Sampdoria too many worries this late in the campaign but it has still been a very poor season for a side packed with talented players.
While this has been a transitional season for the Catalonians, it is never acceptable for Real Madrid to run away with the league title while Barcelona limp towards the runners-up spot. Xavi is doing a decent job with the squad he has been there are far too many players not worthy of the Barcelona shirt that still pull it on week in, week out, something the club will be looking to amend in the summer now they have a juicy sponsorship deal with Spotify to boost the transfer funds.
Another team that impressed in Europe but have failed to produce the goods domestically are Villarreal. Champions League semi-finalists but sitting 7th in La Liga, Villarreal might not qualify for Europe next season as with three games to go, Athletic Bilbao only sit a point behind them.
Levante would not have been expecting a relegation battle this season but the club finds themselves sitting second from bottom, 5pts from safety with just three games left to play. Levante have spent the last four seasons in La Liga finishing 15th, 15th, 12th and 14th but it looks like they will be returning to the Segunda Division very soon.
With talented players such as Beyer, Elvedi, Kramer, Hofmann, Thuram, Embolo and Plea in the squad, Borussia Monchengladbach have no excuse for their current placement of 10th in the Bundesliga table/ The last game of the season is this weekend and that means, no matter what the outcome Gladbach won't be playing in Europe next season, which is a huge surprise as they were expected to challenge for the Champions League places.
Frankfurt might have made it through to the final of the Europa League but domestically, this has been a terrible season for the club. With just 41pts on the board, Frankfurt will finish in the bottom half of the table this season and while their fans won't mind if they bring home a European trophy at the end of the campaign, it just highlights how tough some teams find the balance between playing in multiple competitions.
Hertha Berlin need a point on the last day of the season to ensure that they remain in Germany's top flight for another season but this huge club should have been challenging for a top-half finish at the very least.
Lyon could miss out on European football altogether this season as the club currently sits 8th in the table behind the likes of Nice, Strasbourg, Lens and Rennes. Lyon finished fourth last season and were expected to challenge for the Champions League places once again in 2022 but instead, they could fail to qualify for the Conference League.
From heroes to zeros, Lille have gone from winning the Ligue 1 title to being in danger of finishing in the bottom half of the table in 2022. Not enough goals have been the biggest issue for the team that pipped PSG to the title last season, what an embarrassing season it has been.
Bordeaux finished 12th last season, 5pts above the drop zone, but most expected the club to kick on from there and possibly challenge for a top-half finish in 2022. However, this once great club will be playing in Ligue 2 next season barring a miracle in the last two games and one wonders how costly that could prove to be for their future?