Champions League: Four teams who have disappointed so far

With all eyes on the teams at the top of the Champions League standings, Jon Mackenzie looks at four teams who have disappointed in this year's competition.


For fans of the beautiful game, the Champions League is considered to be the pinnacle of footballing achievement in Europe, the competition that every team fights to enter so that they might earn the right to have the title of ‘Champions of Europe’ bestowed upon them.

As we go into the latter games of the group stage of the competition, all eyes will be on the teams in the top two spots in the groups who will then progress into the knock-out stages of the tournament. However, outside of these qualifying places, there are a number of teams who had promised so much but, in the end, offered very little.

Jon Mackenzie has listed the four teams who have been the most disappointing in the Champions League tournament so far.

  1. 1 Benfica


    Benfica came into this year's Champions League tournament as the highest seeded team in Group A, having won the Portuguese league by six points. Four matches later, they now have as many points as they had at the start of the group stages and the most notable performances from their players so far have come from teenage sensation Mile Svilar whose antics in goal have single-handedly carried Manchester United to two consecutive wins in the group stages.

    This run of poor form has been carried into their domestic competition, with the Lisbon-based club slumping to third in the table, a full five points behind league-leaders FC Porto after only ten games. Worryingly for Benfica, if their performances in the league don't improve, they could find themselves having to go through qualification to return to the Champions League next season.

    As for the causes of these problems, it's hard to tell. While they currently have no players with long-term injuries, the Portuguese champions do have two players out through red card suspensions. In their losses to FC Basel - who thumped them 5-0 in Switzerland - and at home to Manchester United, Benfica saw players sent off in both fixtures, suggesting that ill-discipline may have been a contributing factor.

  2. 2 Atletico Madrid


    It seems an age now since Atletico Madrid won the La Liga title in 2014. Since that time, Atletico have appeared in two Champions League finals and can consider themselves unlucky to have come up against a Real Madrid side in unstoppable form. 

    In this year's competition, the final has never seemed further away from the Madrid side. With one loss and three draws to their name so far, Los Rojiblancos find themselves languishing in Group C with progression to the knock-out stages seemingly beyond them.

    And it is not just the results themselves that are disappointing: it's the teams that these results have come against. Losing to Chelsea at the Wanda Metropolitano having been 1-0 up, they then went on to draw with Roma before drawing twice more against Azerbaijani club FC Qarabag. 

    With Diego Simeone going into the sixth year of his tenure, his tactics are clearly becoming hackneyed. If Atletico drop out of the Champions League at this early stage, as seems inevitable, the club might start asking questions about his future.

  3. 3 Borussia Dortmund


    When Borussia Dortmund went seven games unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season - scoring twenty-three goals in the process - new manager Peter Bosz must have thought that German football was a cinch. Having failed to win the next three, he is likely feeling less sanguine about life at his new club.

    In Europe, though, his team have fared even worse. Having picked up one point from three games so far, the solitary point came away from Dortmund in the unlikely setting offered by Cyprus. Running out with a 1-1 draw from their game against Cypriot champions APOEL Nicosia, Dortmund were lucky to even salvage a point, relying on a late goal from Sokratis to end the game honours even.

    Elsewhere in the group, Bosz's side have been punished for their tendency to play a high line which resulted in two 3-1 defeats: at home to Real Madrid and away to Tottenham. Having displayed a clear tactical weakness from the outset, it will be interesting to see how the Dutchman responds going forward. If he doesn't sort things out soon, though, Dortmund's season could be over almost before it had even begun.

    

  4. 4 Monaco


    Last season's dark horses Monaco might have expected to have had a poor start to their season, having seen their young squad plundered in a summer fire sale that left them a shell of their former selves. In the end, the litany of names of players leaving the club reads like a Who's Who of world footballing talent: Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko.

    No one, though, could have predicted how big an effect it would end up having on them. Despite replacing many of their players, Monaco have already dropped out of the title race in France with Paris Saint-Germain - perhaps expectedly - leading them by four points after eleven games.

    In the Champions League, they have done worse. In a group in which they were favourites, having recently won the French league, Monaco have failed to win a single game so far, losing to Besiktas and Porto having managed to draw away to an equally disappointing RB Leipzig. With a fixture against Besiktas coming up, Monaco could be out of the tournament if they fail to win with only the Europa League left to aim at in terms of European silverware.

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Jon Mackenzie

Jon Mackenzie is the Football Editor at RealSport.

Regularly appearing on talkSPORT radio, his work has also featured in The Economist, The Blizzard, Tifo Football and on the Futbolgrad Network.

A UEFA and Premier League-accredited journalist, Jon also founded A Team of John O'Sheas podcast and hosts it every week.

Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Mackenzie

 

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