What causes a team to underperform? Analysts always give reasons; this excuse-giving game excludes not the coaches and even the players themselves. No matter the quality and quantity of time spent in examining the possible causes of underperformance, the simple but bitter fact remains that teams will always underperform. In this piece, Touchlineui takes a look at 5 big European football clubs that are performing below expectations at the moment. In this uneviable list are Liverpool FC, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint Germain, Atletic Bilbao and. The criteria for being included in this list are not far-fetched, they include: a comparative analysis of last season’s performance, quality of personnel, squad depth, transfer fees spent, e.t.c. First up- Liverpool.
LIVERPOOL FC (ENGLAND)
Many similarities have been drawn between the Spurs team that lost Bale and the Reds team that lost Suarez, we promise not to bore you with those. However, it is a fact that the sale of Suarez has cost the team. The Reds attack has lost its lethal and ruthless presence and more so with the subsequent injury to Sturridge (the other half of the fearsome SAS). The new recruits have failed to blend in with Balotelli and Lambert topping the list of the ‘uncomformables’. Balotelli, the supposed focal point of the team’s attack against Basel, never got a touch of the ball in the penalty box; a feat that Suarez can never achieve. The fact that no striker has netted in the team’s last 3 games (Everton, Basel and West Brom) says it all.
At the other end of the pitch, the story remains the same. Liverpool’s old dogged demons still oppress. The Reds now have a knack for conceding set-pieces, a dangerous habit no doubt. Considering the fact that this defence cost the team last season, it was safe to assume that amends would have been made by now. Obviously, Manquillo, Moreno and Lovren have failed.
The team currently lies 9th on the E.P.L standings after matchday 7; 10 points adrift top placed Chelsea. At this same point last season, the team was placed 2nd, level on points and goal difference with top-placed Arsenal. As at last season, the team had 11 goals and had conceded 5 goals while this season, the team has got 10 goals in its favour and 10 goals against it. The stats say it all.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND (GERMANY)
No doubt losing Lewandowski was a big blow but that is not enough reason for their poor performances in the league. The team has been outstanding in the Champions League though, maintaining a 100 percent record and defeating Arsenal in the process. It is pertinent to note that if the team was able to defeat Arsenal without Lewandowski, then majority of the domestic clubs should not be a problem. One might blame their woeful results on injuries to key players but that is not enough excuse to be 10 points adrift the top.
7 matches played so far in the Bundesliga and Dortmund lies in 13th position with a mere 7 points and a goal difference of -3 while table-toppers Munich are on 17 points. It would take a miracle and some great bad luck on Munich for Dortmund to challenge for the title this season. This time last season, Dortmund, the team was on 19 points having won 6 and drawing 1 with a goal difference of 16 goals to be at the table summit. Now this is some real backsliding!
On a good note however, the team already has a trophy to its name.
PARIS SAINT GERMAIN (FRANCE)
The boys from the park of princes have not exactly had princely fortunes this season. The draw against Monaco was their fourth on a row. A draw against Ajax in the Champions league was poor but they have more than made up for it by defeating the Catalans. A table position of 3rd may not be bad but considering the manner in which points are dropped and the calibre of this team, it is certainly not good enough.
After 9 matches, 6 draws and 3 wins, Ibra and co lie 7 points behind league leaders Marseille. This time last season though, the team was 2nd on level points with leaders Monaco. There is still hope for a title challenge though.
Worse off than their French counterparts. Monaco could not keep hold of some of their key players like Falcao and James Rodriguez. The result- 11 points off the pace.
They lie 13th with just 3 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses with a goal difference of -3! Whereas at this same point last season, the team was flying high atop the table with a goal difference of 9. For a second there, thought this was Dortmund!
ATHLETIC BILBAO (SPAIN)
Performed so well last season, finishing 4th– the club’s highest ever placed finish since the ‘80s. But the added Champions League fixtures may just be this team’s undoing. The added fixtures require a certain squad depth which the team cannot boast of. In addition, the club’s Basque-only policy that limits the amount of players it can reasonably target to those born or those who had footballing education in the Basque region may be a disadvantage in this regard.
Now check out this scenario- a team that just qualified for the Champions League loses 1 of its best players, Herrera, for 30million euros and the replacement and reinforcements come in the shape of a million euro forward, Borja Viguera. The fact that no new players came in may help maintain the team’s balance and rhythm but on the downside, there is little competition for places and little or no depth in a congested fixture list. The team’s whole frailties were exposed by a ruthless Real Madrid side as it lost by a whooping 5 goal margin.
This time last season, the team was 5th with 12 points with 10 goals scored and conceded, staying 9 points off the pace. This term though, the team lies 15 points off the pace with just 4 points, 4 goals scored and 11 conceded. Add this to the team’s woeful performance in the Champions league and you would see reason why Athletic club is the greatest under performer on this list!
It is our sincere hope that with time, these teams will find a way out of the murky waters of this list. Do you feel these teams do not deserve to be here, who would be in your own list of underperformers so far! Kindly drop your comment.