Every season you get those teams that make you wonder “how are they there?”, as you then proceed to point in amazement at the league table with your mouth wide open. Here are the 3 that made me most go “how are they there?” but honourable mentions go to PEC Zwolle of Holland and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.
AS Roma (1st)
Roma are currently on a 9 game win streak in the league and have scored 23 goals and conceded just 1. They sit 5 points clear at the top of Serie A and as the stats suggest, look quite simply unstoppable. Compare this side to last year’s which conceded more than relegated Palermo and finished 6th and you can see the improvement new coach Rudi Garcia has made. The signings of Kevin Strootman, Mehdi Benatia, Adem Ljajic and Gervinho have made a real difference to the team and the ever-green Francesco Totti just keeps on going. With a good mix of experienced players like Daniele De Rossi and Totti combined with the youthful exuberance of Alessandro Florenzi, who is incidentally their top scorer in the league, the team also looks well set for the future.
Highlight of the season: Inter Milan 0-3 AS Roma
I could have quite easily started to wax lyrical about how brilliant Atletico Madrid this season and believe me, I was tempted, but their start hasn’t been as surprising as that of Villarreal in my opinion. Some may say that Villarreal are a big club in Spain, having reached the Champions League Semi –Finals and regularly qualifying for Europe, but this is a side from a town with a population of just 50000. Ironically Villarreal were beaten by Atletico on the final day of the season and got relegated which led to star players like Borja Valero, Nilmar and Diego Lopez leaving. They bounced back immediately from the Segunda Division and now sit 4th in the table, just 2 points behind the mighty Real Madrid. The main man behind this resurgence is Giovanni Dos Santos who has scored 6 goals and assisted a further 3 so far this season.
Highlight of the season: Villarreal 4-1 Valencia
In April 2009 Southampton were plunged into administration and soon later were relegated to League One for the first time in 50 years and to make matters worse, they started the season on -10 points due to relegation. They returned to the Premiership for the first time in 7 years in time for the 2012/13 season and finished 14th in a happy return despite the controversial shock of Nigel Adkins. This season under Mauricio Pochettino they have the best defensive record in the league (only 3 goals conceded) and sit just 4 points behind the leaders Arsenal.
Highlight of the season: Manchester United 1-1 Southampton