Which is the underdog team in the Champions League this year?
The UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most coveted tournament has returned with a bang this season and it has arrived with all its known packages – elation, thrill, suspense, defiance, disappointments and engagements.
With the opening fixtures played last week, there has been a lot of discussions between football lovers all over the globe, with the central attention on who are considered the favourites to go home with the iconic trophy come the end of the campaign.
The likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Atalanta, Lazio and Juventus emerged as the big winners of Matchday 1 and will have the attention on them as the competition progresses. While many will expect the eventual champions to come from one of these clubs, they’ll also have a few teams that they believe possess no chance to go all the way.
Underdogs are always present in every competition; especially in an uneven sport such as football; where the gap between the heavyweights and their small counterparts is ridiculous and obvious for everyone to see. These out-of-towners also make a good topic for discussion. So, which Champions League team(s) can be considered as the underdog(s) for the current campaign? Let’s explore.
In the European tournament this year, there are several outfits that we can point to, putting into consideration their level of performance so far, how rough their path is in the group stage and how likely they are to perform well against the powerhouses in the competition.
On this list, one of the first names that come to mind is Ferencvaros. The Hungarian side are back in the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in 25 years. The last time they appeared at this stage of the tournament was in 1995. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like their long-awaited return to the elite world will end on a good note, unless they’ll be content with the feeling that they at least, popped up after a very long time.
The OTP Bank Liga winners have a dead path to tread as they were drawn alongside Barcelona, Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv in Group G. Even if they show resistance against Dynamo Kyiv, they’re surely nowhere near the level of Barca and Juve. That was quite evident in their clash with the Blaugrana in which they were totally dominated and suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Catalan giants.
Midtjylland is another Champions League team that has almost no chance of surviving in the European tournament this term. The Danish side found themselves in an ugly situation as they were placed alongside Liverpool, Atalanta and Ajax in Group D.
They were thrashed 4-0 by Atalanta in their opening fixture while Liverpool secured a narrow 1-0 triumph against Ajax. Judging by those results, it is easy to see that the Reds and Atalanta have the best chances of making it beyond the group stage. If any club has the chance to stage an upset, then, it would be Ajax and not Midtjylland.
One more Champions League team we can also consider as an underdog is Istanbul Basaksehir. The Turkey-based side is locked in Group H with Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. They lost their opening game 2-0 to Leipzig in Germany and will host PSG in their next fixture. Istanbul Basaksehir currently sits at the bottom of the table and will need a weird miracle to get any chance of survival.
With that said, it is also important to stress that football is a game that is capable of giving us the biggest surprises of our lives. We’ve seen situations where underdogs defy the odds and go all the way to claim success. Will that happen in the Champions League this year? Well, let’s wait and see.
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