Breakthrough teams

After 2000, football transformed almost exclusively in a global business which means more and more money, with less show and priceless moments. So, most of the national competitions are won by teams that are used with this or by teams that built a strong tradition in the last decade, like Lyon, Zenit, Rubin, CFR, Debrecen or Litex. Some of them, such are Chelsea, Manchester City, Valencia, Stuttgart, Lazio, Rome, Lille, Twente or AZ, regained their past glory. Meanwhile, some big surprises raised their heads and won the League Championship. Montpellier, Nordsjaelland, Molde and Ludogorets are the last examples, but you will see a list with all the big surprises starting 2000. Teams that won for the first time the national league title, but which didn’t reach the same performance again and probably won’t do that very quickly.

Deportivo La Coruna (Spain)
Founded: 1906
Trophies: La Liga (2000), Copa del Rey (1995, 2002), Spain Super Cup (1995, 2000, 2002)
Other performance: UEFA Champions League Semifinal (2004)
After 2005, they never finished higher than seventh place in the league table and in 2011 they even relegated after 20 years. Now, they returned in Primera.

Herfolge (Denmark)
Founded: 1921
Trophies: Danish Superliga (2000)
A year after they relegated and so they did three years later! No other notable performances were obtained by the club which merged in 2009 with Koge HB, forming HB Koge, which plays at the moment in the second tier. Still, the amateurs remains of the former club gathered and formed a team which now is in the third tier.

Boavista Porto (Portugal)
Founded: 1903
Trophies: Primeira Liga (2001), Taca de Portugal (1975, 1976, 1979, 1992, 1997), Supertaca Candido de Oliveira (1979, 1992, 1997)
In 2008, they relegated into second division and after a year Boavista was dropped in the third tier, due to big financial problems. At that level they are playing in our days, but what is more important, the club was joined in this summer by two former Portugal national teams players and former champions in 2001: Petit and Frechaut.

Hammarby (Sweden)
Founded: 1889
Trophies: Allsvenskan (2001)
Despite playing a Cup final in 2010, Hammarby joined in the same year the second tier in which they are struggling also right now. At the end of 2011 season they finished only eleventh and now, as of September 2012, is on the fourth place, but with no chances at promotion when only six match days remained.

Zalaegerszeg (Hungary)
Founded: 1920
Trophies: League Title (2002)
The Magyars also played a national cup final in 2010, but that was it. No other notable achievement for the 92 years old club. In UEFA Champions’ League preliminaries they eliminated another surprisingly national champion, NK Zagreb from Croatia which also gathered in 2002 their first and last league title. After, Zalaegerszeg looked like can push through the group stage, after an incredible 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Still, in the second leg, the British squad won 5-0 and the dreams were over for a long, long time.

NK Zagreb (Croatia)
Founded: 1903
Trophies: League Title (2002)
The Croatians were always in the shadow of Dinamo and didn’t win anything else. Still, in 14 matches in European competitions, played on home soil, NK only lost three, against Charleroi, Metz and Pobeda Prilep. In the last years they were more close to relegation, than to title battle, as they finished on 14th spot in 2010 and on 13th in 2011.

Lokomotiv Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
Founded: 1926
Trophies: Bulgarian League (2004), Bulgarian Super Cup (2004)
Other performance: quarter final in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1965. Still they could have passed also over Juventus Turin, but after two 1-1 draws, the decisive match was decided to be played at Turin! And so Lokomotiv lost 1-2.
Last year, Loko played both Bulgarian Cup and Super Cup finals, but lost both of them in front another big surprise, Ludogorets.
The club gave one of the best Bulgarian football players of all time, Hristo Bonev, who appeared for the national side in 96 occasions, scoring 48 goals.

Grazer AK (Austria)
Founded: 1902
Trophies: Austrian First League (2004), Austrian Cup (1981, 2000, 2002, 2004), Austrian Super Cup (2000, 2002)
Despite being the second side in Graz, considering by the number of trophies achieved by Sturm Graz, they have a positive direct statistic with their rivals, by now: 46 matches won, 42 drawn and 42 lost. Last year they played in the third division!
In European competitions, they never put out a big name, but in 1996, they were very close to do so with Inter Milan, which eliminated the Austrians only after penalties in the second round of the UEFA Cup.

Stabaek (Norway)
Founded: 1912
Trophies: Norwegian League (2008), Norwegian Cup (1998)
A very unusual side, they appeared first time in European competitions only in 1997. Despite having a 100 year history, Satabaek even played in the fifth tier! It happened in 1987 when they progressed and in 1990 they made it to the third tier. Since 1995 they are participating only in the first league, with only one exception: in 2005, which means just three years before winning their first and only title. Right now they are very close to relegation as they are on the last place, with seven week days left and with only 13 points.

Kalmar (Sweden)
Founded: 1910
Trophies: Allsvenskan (2008), Svenska Cupen (1981, 1987, 2007)
A team which spent most of its history in second and third league, until 1976 and between 1986 and 2002, was quite a surprise champion in 2008. And that is all about their trophies and performances, because in European competitions their achievements weren’t notable.

Wolfsburg (Germany)
Founded: 1945
Trophies: Bundesliga (2009)
To win the title in a country dominated heavily by Bayern Munich is an extraordinary achievement, especially when your history is very poor. Despite not having gained a single trophy before and after 2009, Wolfsburg won Bundesliga in a manner which doesn’t contain any discussions. The 5-1 against Bayern in the last game weeks says it all. After, nothing but silence and a mid-table squad…

Molde (Norway)
Founded: 1911
Trophies: Norwegian Premier League (2011, 2012), Norwegian Cup (1994, 2005)
Other performances: In 199 they became vice-champions of Norway and after putting out Mallorca they won the right to participate in the groups of the Champions League. The first edition with 32 teams. Despite losing five out of six games that still remains a great performance.
As well as Stabaek their history is full of low division seasons, but right now they have the chance to repeat last years’ performance when they won the first title, under coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, at exactly a century from their foundation. In the ’50 they were playing in the seventh league (!) and by 1974 they hadn’t a single presence in the top flight. Even though I aimed only the teams which won a single League Title after 2000, Molde made, a couple of days ago, another such achievement!

Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic)
Founded: 1911
Trophies: Gambrinus Liga (2011), Czech Cup (2010), Czech Super Cup (2011)
Other performances: exactly like Molde, they won the first title at their centenary. Still, Plzen also participated in the Champions’ League group stage last year, after putting out in the preliminaries, Rosenborg and FC Copenhagen. There, they also gathered five points, including one against giants AC Milan.
In the past they were a mid-table side, but in the last years they became as powerful as Slavia Prague and Slovan Liberec, which permits them to challenge every year Sparta Prague.

Videoton (Hungary)
Founded: 1941
Trophies: Hungarian League (2011), Hungarian Cup (2006), Hungarian Super Cup (2011, 2012) and Hungarian League Cup (2008, 2009, 2012)
Other performances: Videoton won his first trophy in 2006, but with more than two decades before, they wrote history by reaching the UEFA Cup final in the 1984-1985 season. After putting out, in a row, Dukla Prague, PSG, Partizan Beograd, Manchester United and Zeljeznicar, they played a two leged final in front of Real Madrid. Unfortunately, they lost 0-3 on home soil so the 1-0 away victory didn’t count.
The Magyars won their first title at exactly seven decades from their birth. Still, Europe knew their great potential and it looks like, once again, Videoton might have good results in Europe League, having six points after the first three group matches. They won both home matches against Sporting Lisbon, 3-0 (!) and in front of Basel, 2-1.

Montpellier (France)
Founded: 1974 (the initial club had apear in 1919)
Trophies: Ligue 1 (2012), Coupe de France (1929, 1990)
Other performances: Montpellier also won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 1999, which allowed them to participate in the UEFA Cup and now, in the autumn of 2012, they enjoy their first ever season in UEFA Champions’ League, even though without great results.
The initial club appeared in 1919, but many financial problems determined a couple of mergers. The last wasn’t an ordinary one, because Louis Nicollin, the new chairman dissolved the club, let all the players and staff members to go elsewhere and he brought his own men alongside which put the base of the current football team.

Nordsjaelland (Denmark)
Founded: 1991 (the initial club apeared in 1910, but they are playing under the new name since 2003)
Trophies: Danish Champions (2012), Danish Cup (2010, 2011)
For such a short existence they had won a decent number of trophies. Their story resembles a bit with the one of Montpellier, with the mention that initially the club was called Farum Idraets Club (1910) and between 1991, the official appearance date of the current team, and 2003, it played under the name of Farum Boldklub.

Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria)
Founded: 1945
Trophies: Bulgarian League (2012), Bulgarian Cup (2012), Bulgarian Super Cup (2012)
Untill 2011, Ludogorets never played in the Bulgarian top flight! More interesting is that in 2010, they were fighting with third tier sides! In only two years, this thing chanceg radically and the squad from Razgrad won all the possible internal trophies. A very rich man ensured that Ludogorets can make performance and so, this season, they fight again for all trophies.
That’s about all we can say about their performances, but we can also mention an interesting fact: the ethimology of the word ‘Ludogorets’. It comes from the ‘Ludogorie’ region from Bulgaria, in which the town of Razgrad is located. Translated into English, the word means ‘crazy forest’!

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