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Leicester City... and football's surprise champions' club

By Bikash Mohapatra
May 05, 2016 14:22 IST
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Leicester City's Premier League triumph is one of the biggest success stories in football.
More so because they flirted with relegation last season and thereafter appointed a coach who was sacked after just four games in his previous assignment.

IMAGE: An image of Leicester City Manager Claudio Ranieri displayed on a t-shirt. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images


So Leicester City are the new Premier League champions!

The Midlands club, that secured promotion to the Premier League in 2013-2014 and finished 14th in the table last season -- winning seven of their last nine games to avoid relegation -- surprised fans and pundits with their terrific form this season.

Claudio Ranieri's men went top of the table for the first time on November 21, following their win over Newcastle United. They did not drop out of the top three thereafter.

The Foxes suffered just three league defeats thus far, with only Arsene Wenger's Arsenal doing the 'double'. Their other defeat was against Liverpool at Anfield in December.

In the 24 years that the Premier League has existed as a competition, Leicester is only the sixth team to be crowned champions.

As the Foxes celebrate their unexpected title triumph, Bikash Mohapatra/ lists similar success stories across Europe's top leagues.

Deportivo La Coruna

Primera Liga champions, 2000

IMAGE: Roy Makaay (7) of Deportivo La Coruna celebrates the first equaliser with teammates Sampaio Cesar (16) and Sebastian Scaloni during the Champions League game against Hamburg. Photograph: Reuters

Since the mid-1980s the La Liga has been a two-horse race between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, with Atletico Madrid (1996 and 2014) and Valencia (2002 and 2004) providing a semblance of competition.

Amid this domination Deportivo La Coruna's triumph came in as a shock.

Managed by Javier Irureta, and having in its ranks a prolific Dutch striker -- Roy Makaay, 22 goals -- Super Depor won the title convincingly, five points ahead of Barcelona.

The Galician club also finished second and third a couple of times, and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2004, but are now struggling.


Serie A champions, 1991

IMAGE: Sampdoria supporters during the European Cup Winners Cup game against Anderlecht at the Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg. Photograph: Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images

Another club struggling at present had a glorious run in the late 1980s and mid 1990s.

Sampdoria, managed by Vujadin Boskov, and having the likes of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini in its squad first lifted the now defunct Cup Winners Cup in 1990 before winning its first, and so far only, Scudetto a year later.

In 1992, they made it to the final of the Champions League, losing to Johan Cruyff's Barcelona, current Southampton Manager Ronald Koeman scoring the winning goal.

Vfl Wolfsburg

Bundesliga champions, 2009

IMAGE: VfL Wolfsburg players celebrate the German soccer championship. Photograph: Ina Fassbender/Reuters

The Bundesliga, since its inception in 1963, was dominated by one club.

Bayern Munich have been the winners on 25 occasions, 11 times in the past 17 years.

There have been other clubs -- Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and Kaiserslautern -- who have spoiled Bayern's party at times.

Wolfsburg's success story is more surprising since it came from relative obscurity to win the championship.

Managed by the able Felix Magath, and having the prominent strike duo of Edin Dzeko and Grafite, Wolfsburg broke many records en route to the title.

It has been a team to reckon with since, but have failed to add to that title.

Montpellier HSC

Ligue 1 champions, 2012

IMAGE: Montpellier team members hold the French Champions Cup after winning the Ligue 1 title. Photograph: Pascal Parrot/Reuters

After floating around in the lower divisions for most part of the first decade of the millennium, Montpellier shocked all with their title triumph in 2012.

Managed by veteran Rene Girard, Montpellier staved off a late challenge by the newly rich Paris Saint-Germain, managed by the redoubtable Carlo Ancelotti.

Olivier Giroud, who finished that title-winning season with 21 goals (he was the top scorer) and nine assists, now plies his trade with Premier League side Arsenal.


Primeira Liga champions, 2001

IMAGE: The Boavista team line up before the start of a game. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Allsport/Getty Images

So dominant were the duopoly of FC Porto and SL Benfica in recent years that Sporting Lisbon, the third Portuguese club of repute, failed to win the title in the last decade or so.

The three clubs combined have dominated the championships in the last six decades.

In 2001, Boavista, managed by Jamie Pacheco and having Bolivian legend Erwin Sanchez in its ranks, spoiled the party, winning the title comfortably.

The club finished second the following season before slumping to mediocrity.

FC Twente

Eredivisie champions, 2010

IMAGE: Coach Steve McClaren of Twente Enschede with the championship trophy. Photograph: Eric Brinkhorst/Reuters.

This Enschede-based club came from relative obscurity, and bankruptcy, to challenge the top echelons of Dutch football.

Having signed former England manager Steve McClaren ahead of the 2008-2009 season, Twente finished second, behind AZ Alkmaar.

The following season the club won its first, and so far only, Eredivisie title, losing only two games en route.

As things stand, financial problems threaten to send the club back into obscurity.

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Bikash Mohapatra /