Europe's Biggest Underachieving Clubs as Manchester United Lose Again

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2014

Europe's Biggest Underachieving Clubs as Manchester United Lose Again

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    Many of Europe's major domestic leagues have now taken temporary leaves of absence for the winter break, but the Premier League in England is one of those which roll on.

    The midway point in the season gives us a chance to reflect on which teams are underperforming and need to significantly step up their efforts over the second half of the campaign.

    Here are the biggest underachievers from around Europe at present.

6. Borussia Dortmund

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    Injuries and a thin squad have really taken their toll on Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, who sit fourth in the table at the midway point.

    They won just one of their last five games before Christmas, including three successive home defeats to Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Hertha Berlin.

    Last year's runners-up in both domestic action and the Champions League need a big turnaround just to match their efforts of last term. 

5. PSV

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    Over in Holland, PSV Eindhoven managed to stop the rot in their last two matches before Christmas and pick up back-to-back wins, but they still lie down in seventh.

    Currently 11 points off leaders Ajax, they'll have a lot of work to do to fight for the title, and even a Champions League place will be a big concern at this point—though they certainly have the squad to get back into the top three or four.

    A big match at Ajax awaits them when the season restarts. 

4. Lyon

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    Selling the best players and failing to replace them has never been a proven method of attaining success, and that policy is costing Lyon dearly this season.

    Down in 10th in Ligue 1, Lyon have won just one from their last five prior to the winter break. They sit a mighty 15 points behind Lille, who occupy the third and final Champions League spot in the table.

    Lyon return to action at home against struggling Sochaux on Saturday, Jan. 11. 

3. Valencia

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    Valencia are down in 11th in La Liga after a torrid first half of the season, full of injury and inconsistency.

    They have also changed their manager in a bid to turn things around, but with only six wins from 17 so far and three defeats in their last four, new boss Juan Antonio Pizzi has a massive job on his hands.

    Valencia play Levante once the season restarts. 

2. Manchester United

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    Manchester United had embarked on a good run of form over Christmas, but 2014 got off to the worst possible start as they lost 2-1 at home to Tottenham.

    United's home form has been rather wretched this season, with just four wins from their 10 games at Old Trafford so far.

    The latest defeat left them in seventh place in the Premier League, 11 points off the title spot which they held at the end of last season. 

1. AC Milan

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    AC Milan's shocking season continued into the derby against Internazionale in their last match, where they lost 1-0 to drop to 13th in Serie A.

    Forget about European action next season, Milan are now just five points above the relegation zone and have won only four of their 17 league games.

    They get back underway against Atalanta at the weekend.