Europe's Biggest Underachieving Clubs: Inter Milan and Man United Both Lose
Welcome back to the most inauspicious list in the business: the biggest underachieving clubs in European football.
By this point, several of the names included will be familiar to you, but the results of the past few days brought about some movement.
In fact, we’ve got a new leader heading into the weekend’s fixture programme.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the six clubs that have most underperformed so far this season.
When you’re the reigning champions and have won each of the past three domestic titles, third place is hardly good enough.
Especially in Portugal. Even more so if you’re Porto.
Going into Sunday’s match away to Nacional, Porto are five points back of second-place Sporting Lisbon and a whopping 12 adrift of leaders Benfica.
They’re also just six points clear of fourth-place Estoril, so they’ll need to avoid any slip-ups to ensure a return to the Champions League next season.
5. Inter Milan
Inter Milan’s modest two-match winning streak came to an end against Atalanta on Sunday.
The defeat—the Nerazzurri’s sixth of the season—left the 18-time Scudetto winners level on points with sixth-place Parma and dropped them 14 points adrift of Napoli and the Champions League places.
Incredibly, the San Siro outfit are an eye-popping 34 points back of Serie A leaders Juventus. In 12 matches this calendar year, they’ve managed to post only four victories.
They may have qualified for the quarterfinals of the Europa League, where they’ll face Basel, but Valencia may have to win the competition if they hope to participate in continental competition next season.
If results don’t go their way this weekend, Los Che could suddenly find themselves 10th in La Liga with eight rounds left to play. While they’re coming off an important win against Villarreal, they’ve still won only five of 12 matches in 2014.
With just five goals in their last five outings, Valencia are struggling mightily to find the back of the net. They’ve managed to post a respectable defensive record, but their work in their own end has largely been for naught this term.
3. AC Milan
Philippe Mexes scored a rare goal on Wednesday, while Mario Balotelli also found the back of the net in AC Milan's 2-0 victory over Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The win halted a four-match winless skid for the Rossoneri. However, after 30 rounds, the Serie A giants are only 12th in the standings and eight points back of the Europa League places.
Since Clarence Seedorf took over as manager, Milan have won only five of 11 matches in the Italian top flight and also crashed out of the Champions League at the round of 16.
In their next three matches, they’ll face struggling opponents in Chievo, Genoa and Catania, so there’s a chance they could make up some ground on the teams in front of them before the end of April.
Last season, Stuttgart finished 12th in the Bundesliga and qualified for Europe by virtue of their appearance in the German cup final.
They were then eliminated from the Europa League before September by Croatian outfit Rijeka.
Things went from bad to worse after that.
When Huub Stevens was appointed to succeed Thomas Schneider earlier this month, the club had put its fate in the hands of a third manager this term.
Last weekend’s 1-0 win over Hamburg offered a bit of hope, but on Wednesday they fell 2-0 away to Nurnberg—ending the 27th matchday in one of the Bundesliga’s automatic relegation places.
1. Manchester United
Just 10 months ago, Manchester United were celebrating a record 20th English title.
Long-time manager Sir Alex Ferguson then retired, and with him seemed to go the club’s self-belief and traditionally steely resolve.
Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at home to local rivals Manchester City represented just the latest in a season of low points for new boss David Moyes. Next week’s Champions League date with Bayern Munich will be unlikely to provide a pick-me-up.
With seven matches remaining, the Red Devils are seventh in the Premier League—12 points back of the Champions League places and 18 adrift of leaders Chelsea.