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Europe's Biggest Under-Achieving Clubs Featuring Manchester City and AC Milan

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2013

Europe's Biggest Under-Achieving Clubs Featuring Manchester City and AC Milan

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    It's time for our weekly roundup of Europe's biggest under-performers of recent days, with more than a few big clubs finding themselves on the end of a humbling result.

    Plenty of Europe's bigger sides have yet to really start firing in this new season, while others have simply suffered a blip with a shock result.

    Manchester City were beaten in the Premier League by newcomers Cardiff City, while AC Milan lost against similarly promoted Hellas Verona. They were far from the only disappointed sets of fans though, and here's the complete run-down.

7. PSV

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    PSV Eindhoven's approach to fielding a largely youthful side has been exciting spectators around Europe early on this season, but they were always going to come unstuck at some point.

    Their first test came at the unlikely venue of the Polman Stadion, home of Heracles. PSV needed a late goal from on loan Park Ji-Sung to rescue a point at 1-1 after the home team created far more chances, despite PSV enjoying the lion's share of possession.

    Heracles went in front after only five minutes after Memphis Depay was sloppy in possession inside his own half and Lerin Duarte found the back of the net with a deflected shot from range.

    Second-half substitute Park had only been on the field for 20 minutes when he equalised with just four minutes remaining. This was the first Eredivisie game PSV has failed to win this season, and they play Cambuur at home in their next match.

6. Schalke 04

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    Schalke 04 continued their awful start to 2013/14 with a 2-1 defeat at Hannover on Saturday, leaving manager Jens Keller with a single point from his first three Bundesliga matches.

    It was more than just conceding goals which will cost Schalke dear from this game though, as both Benedikt Howedes and Christian Fuchs were shown red cards and will now miss ensuing matches. Howedes was dismissed just 14 minutes into the game, conceding a penalty in the process, leaving Schalke with a huge uphill battle from thereon in.

    The German club will point to qualification for the Champions League group stages as making it an overall successful week, but in truth, Schalke were far from convincing in beating Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki 4-3 over two legs.

    A difficult season lies ahead if they do not improve rapidly.

5. Valencia

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    Valencia suffered their first defeat of 2013-14 with an unexpected 3-1 reversal at Espanyol's Estadi Cornella-El Prat, and would  not have been expecting to taste defeat after Helder Postiga gave them the lead inside 10 minutes.

    A great fightback from the home side, however, saw goals from David Lopez and Christian Stuani turn the game around with headed efforts off set pieces just either side of the halftime break. Thievy Bifouma sealed the win in the final minutes with his second goal off the bench in two matches.

    Valencia face a tough ask to bounce back at the first attempt, as they face Barcelona next time out.

4. Anzhi Makhachkala

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    Anzhi Makhachkala's underwhelming start to the season continues, with the formerly big-spending Russian side losing 2-1 at home to FK Krasnodar on Saturday.

    Gadhzi Gadzhiev has not had the best start to his second term in charge, losing expensive players at a rapid rate of knots and failing to take a win from their initial five matches—and that was then extended to six with defeat to Krasnodar.

    Uzbek midfielder Odil Akhmedov cracked in the goal of the game before halftime to give Anzhi the lead, but they couldn't protect it and goals from Uruguayan Mauricio Pereyra and Brazilian striker Wanderson gave the away team the three points.

    Anzhi have now taken just one point from their last five matches and look set for a real season of struggle, a far cry from their ambitions of challenging for the Russian championship this term.

3. Lyon

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    Olympique Lyonnais suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat against Stade de Reims on Saturday, their first loss of the new Ligue 1 season.

    Lyon dominated heavily, as expected, for much of the game and created far more chances, having 18 shots to Reims' six attempts, but failed to find a way past veteran Togolese goalkeeper Kossi Agassa.

    The winning strike came in the last 15 minutes, as Odair Fortes' cross-shot from the left spun off the boot of Milan Bisevac over the head of Lyon 'keeper Anthony Lopes into the far top corner of the net.

    Lyon travel to Evian for their next fixture, with their next opponents currently bottom of Ligue 1 without a win from their three matches.

2. AC Milan

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    AC Milan are in at No. 2 after their disappointing 2-1 defeat to new Serie A boys Hellas Verona, made all the more disturbing given they took the lead early on.

    A well-worked move between Mario Balotelli and Andrea Poli lead to the latter finishing calmly to give AC Milan the lead. But a brace from veteran striker Luca Toni—now with his 14th Serie A club—sent the Milanese side home without a point.

    Toni was able to escape the attentions of first Kevin Constant and later Cristian Zapata to forcefully head home both goals and consign AC Milan to defeat on the opening day of Serie A's 2013-14 season.

    Milan are home to Cagliari next time out.

1. Manchester City

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    The award of the biggest underperformer of this week around Europe has to go to Manchester City, who went down 3-2 at Cardiff City.

    The Premier League runners up looked up to the task of playing against newly-promoted Cardiff, even when the scores were level at half time. City took the lead with a spectacular Edin Dzeko strike after half time, but three goals in the final half hour of the match gave Cardiff an exceptional victory.

    City goalkeeper Joe Hart came in for some criticism for his inability to deal with aerial balls, but only after Aron Gunnarsson had blasted Cardiff level just eight minutes after Dzeko's opener.

    Fraizer Campbell, formerly of City's rivals Manchester United, was the Cardiff hero. He headed in twice off corners to give his team an unassailable lead, which was halved by Alvaro Negredo's first goal in the Premier League in injury time.

    There wasn't enough left in the tank for City to score another, and Cardiff ensured they had a memorable home debut in the top flight.

     

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