Around the world: Unlikely title winners
It wasn’t the first time that an underdog has stunned the world, and FourFourTwo looks back at some of the greatest triumphs ever witnessed in the mad, mad world of football.
VFL Wolfsburg - The year of the Wolves (Bundesliga, 2008-09)
If the 2015-16 season is the year of the Foxes, then the campaign 2008-09 most definitely was the Wolves'.
From 2005 to 2007, Wolfsburg flirted with relegation to Bundesliga 2 and merely escaped by the skin of their teeth on the final day.
However, title-winning coach Felix Magath came in for the 2007-08 season and he drastically improved their fortunes, as Wolfsburg finished in fifth place that year to qualify for Europe for the second time in their history.
No one could have believed what would follow the next campaign though, as the Wolves shocked Germany with their first-ever title capture. The club did so by fending off the likes of Stuttgart and more significantly, powerhouse Bayern Munich.
Wolfsburg took the title by finishing two points ahead of Bayern, and strikers Edin Dzeko and Grafite were largely credited for the success, as both of them scored 26 and 28 goals respectively.
Montpellier - The year where money didn’t talk (LIgue 1, 2011-2012)
Qatar Sports Investment believed it would work for them as well as they bought over Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and splashed the cash out on players such as Javier Pastore, Mohamed Sissoko and Thiago Motta.
Unfortunately for them, Montpellier did not follow the script. With one of the lowest budget in the league, Montpellier challenged the likes of PSG, Lille and Lyon.
It was a nail-biting affair though. PSG had beaten Lorient earlier and were level on points in the league. By virtue of goal difference, Montpellier would have missed out on the title had they fell to defeat.
However, John Utaka scored twice to settle the contest against Auxerre and Montpellier completed one of the biggest fairytale run to date in modern football.
Bursaspor - The year of breaking tradition (Super Lig, 2009-10)
The Super Lig was always dominated by clubs from Istanbul. Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas were the perennial title contenders and no one expected otherwise.
But Bursaspor broke these three’s stranglehold on the league in 2010, by pipping Fenerbahce by one point.
The feat was all the more remarkable, as Bursaspor had never finished amongst the top three in their history. In fact, in the 2007-08 season, the club had finished in 13th place in the 18-man league.
Western Sydney Wanderers - The year of the new kids on the block (AFC Champions League, 2014)
Prior to June 25, 2012, there wasn’t a club such as Western Sydney Wanderers.
But it did not take long for the Wanderers to find their feet, as they took the A.League by storm and ended their inaugural season by claiming the A-League Premiership, before they lost in the Grand Finals to Central Coast Mariners in 2013.
Western Sydney grew from strength to strength and they again made a second consecutive appearance in the Grand Finals in the following campaign, only to lose to Brisbane Roar this time in 2014.
However, the best was soon to come that year. After passing through the group stages, the Wanderers were matched up against reigning champions Guangzhou Evergrande. No one expected them to win but the Australian side did as they went into the semi-finals and beat FC Seoul.
Western Sydney held on tightly to a 1-0 lead in the two-legged final against the highly-fancied Al-Hilal and the final whistle came not a moment too soon to cap their remarkable rise to fame.