Without any shred of doubt, football is all about the players. The manager, the sporting director and other staff do play a role but in the end it is all about what 11 players are able to achieve on the pitch. In modern times, the obsession towards individuals has grown in football mainly because of abundantly available statistics. But the beautiful game is much more than numbers and milestones as it keeps demonstrating year after year. In this article, we will take a look at five unforgettable team achievements in football this century.
#5 Barcelona winning the sextuple in 2009
When Pep Guardiola became the coach of Barcelona in 2008, the club was in disarray. After winning the Champions League in 2006, Barcelona failed to win any major trophy in their next two seasons. Pep was a rookie back in 2008, with no experience of managing any top-flight team. Also, the way he ousted Ronaldinho and Deco did not do him any favors.
Pep’s first game as manager of Barcelona ended in defeat but as the season progressed it was clear that Pep had real footballing pedigree. May 2, 2009 is an unforgettable day in Barcelona’s history as they crushed Real Madrid 6-2 at Santiago Bernabeu to effectively seal the league title. They then beat Bilbao at Mestalla and Manchester United at Rome to win their first continental treble.
#4 Real Madrid’s UCL three-peat
Real Madrid won the La Decima in 2014 and the triumph meant a lot to fans as it came after 12 long years. But winning three consecutive UCL trophies from 2016 to 2018 is one of the most unforgettable team achievements in football. In the 2015/16 UCL season, Real Madrid passed the group stage without losing a game.
In the quarter-final first leg at Wolfsburg, they were convincingly beaten 2-0. But as all champion teams do, they came back well and won the tie. In the final, they beat Atletico on penalties and won the title. 2017 and 2018 finals were much more one-sided as Madrid comfortably won 4-1 and 3-1 respectively.
#3 Croatia reaching the World Cup final
It is terrifying to think that Croatia was not even a sovereign nation just 30 years ago. France 1998 was their first World Cup and they completely surprised everybody by finishing third. 20 years later, it was France that stood between them and a World Cup victory which seemed improbable in the beginning. It was a heart-warming story as Luka Modric, a refugee of the Yugoslavian war, captained Croatia to the final.
#2 Porto winning the UCL in 2004
The 2003/04 UCL featured several iconic teams such as the Galacticos and defending champions AC Milan. Porto’s win was one of the most unforgettable team achievements in football as it finally won club football’s most prestigious honor after 16 years. The man that managed them to this special victory was none other than Jose Mourinho.
Porto finished second in the group stage after losing to Real Madrid at home. When they were drawn against Manchester United in the R-16, many thought it was the end of their campaign. However, they beat United 2-1 at home and a draw at Old Trafford saw them progress. In the quarter-final, they knocked out French champions Lyon and in the semi-final they won a tight clash against Deportivo. Porto comfortably beat Monaco 3-0 to lift the cup and since then no clubs outside the major leagues have won the UCL.
#1 Leicester winning the Premier League in 2016
Without a doubt, Leicester’s PL triumph in 2016 should top the most unforgettable team achievements in football this century. In the 2014/15 season, Leicester barely escaped relegation. The odds of them winning the league in 2015/16 were 5000-to-1. Yet they won the tournament rather easily, thanks to their old-fashioned coach Claudio Ranieri. He built a stubbornly defensive unit and relied on Mahrez and Vardy to score goals on the counter. The achievement is quite ridiculous in a number of ways and might never be repeated.