In case you hadn’t heard, last season Leicester City defeated odds of 5000/1 to claim arguably the greatest upset in Premier League – and football – history. Now the Foxes’ achievements have seemingly inspired a number of clubs in Europe who are looking to oust the established order in their respective nations.
It’s not a Continent-wide situation – Real Madrid and Barcelona still dominate in Spain while Juventus still lead the way in Italy, but an increasing number of unusual names are cropping up at the top of tables elsewhere.
Leicester may not be able to replicate their heroics this time around, but we’ve done some digging and found a number of sides who are taking the Foxes’ inspiration and running with it.
Let’s start across the Channel…
France – Nice
Odds – Pre-season 150/1 – Today – 7/1
Nice haven’t won the French title for 57 years, while PSG won this league by a staggering 31 points last season. But this term Zlatan Ibrahimovic has gone and so has their invincibility.
A Chinese and American consortium bought Nice earlier this year, and under former Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach coach Lucien Favre, the south coast club are having their best season for years.
Opening the season with an 11-game unbeaten run, Favre has even got Mario Balotelli back into form, with the former Liverpool striker bagging six goals in six games.
Nice lead the table by three points ahead of this weekend’s games and a clash with PSG awaits on December 11.
Germany – RB Leipzig
Odds – Pre-season 500/1 – Today 7/1
They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but this article is about breaking the mould and RB Leipzig certainly fall into that category.
Like PSG in France, Bayern Munich have dominated the German proceedings for years, but Pep Guardiola has moved to Manchester and they don’t seem the same under Carlo Ancelotti.
Promoted from Bundesliga II this season, at 500/1 few gave them much hope – apart from one wishful punter here – but amazingly they’re the only unbeaten side left in the top tier.
They have already defeated Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, while the big one with Bayern awaits on December 21.
Belgium – Zulte-Waregem
Odds – Pre-season 66/1 – Today 6/1
They aren’t grabbing the headlines in the same manner as Nice and Leipzig, but Zulte-Waregem should be heralded for their achievements in Belgium.
The club were only founded 15 years ago through an amalgamation, and were sixth last term but it’s all change this time around.
With regular giants Anderlecht and Standard Liege struggling, Zulte hold a five-point lead ahead of this weekend’s action, and have already beaten those two Belgian heavyweights.
Boss Francky Dury is in his second spell as head coach at the club, and with a number of players such as Soualiho Meite courting Premier League attention, they’re a side to watch this year.
Turkey – Istanbul Basaksehir
Odds – Pre-season 33/1- Today 9/2
Again, not many may have heard of Istanbul Basaksehir, but with just five sides winning Turkey’s Super Lig since it’s inception in 1959, their success so far must be lauded.
Furthermore, take Bursaspor’s title in 2010 out of the equation, and only three sides have won the title since 1984.
But that could all change this year. Under former Turkey coach Abdullah Avci, the club have won nine and drawn two of their opening 11 games.
Skippered by former Newcastle United and Atletico Madrid man Emre, they lead Besiktas by two points at the top of the table.
Istanbul were only founded in 1990, and didn’t reach the top tier until 2007, dropping out again in 2013.
They’ve already defeated the other two big guns – Fenerbahce and Galatasaray – and though any title win would probably court the least press on these shores, it would arguably be the most impressive of the quartet here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing