With many of Europe’s top clubs suffering a decline in fortunes this season, we could see some unusual names on league trophies and in Champions League draws next summer.
However, fans of more established sides can point to sustained success rather than a flash in the pan, and we’ve looked at the data to identify which clubs’ supporters have the most to brag about.
We’ve gone back over the last decade of top-flight football across Europe and taken a snapshot of the league table on every day of the last 10 seasons to work out how long each division’s current clubs have spent in each position.
It’s been more than five years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from Old Trafford and the subsequent decline in Manchester United’s fortunes, but they still have the highest average league position of any Premier League club over the last decade.
Along with Chelsea and local rivals Manchester City, they are the only three teams who have sat higher than fourth place on average, although those two have spent more time inside the top four than United overall.
Wolves’ impressive return to the top flight will have come as a relief to their fans, given that over 40% of their previous spell in the Premier League was spent in the relegation zone.
Despite Spain ostensibly having a ‘big two’ fighting for league dominance, the battle has been somewhat one-sided over the last decade. Barcelona have spent a jaw-dropping 97% of the last 10 seasons in a Champions League place and an average of 168 days in top spot – more than Bayern Munich in Germany and PSG in France – with Real Madrid some way off the pace.
Los Blancos have occupied top spot for an average of almost 100 fewer days per season, although their record-breaking Champions League exploits will surely provide some comfort.
Spare a thought for fans of Real Betis and Levante, who have spent an average of a month per season each at the foot of La Liga, with the latter having also resided in the relegation zone for around a quarter of their recent top-flight existence.
Juventus’ dominance of Italian football comes across clearly in the data, with almost four days in every five spent in a Champions League place and an average of 127 days spent at the top of the table every season.
That’s more than the 118 days that Napoli, Roma and the two Milan clubs have managed between them, and with Cristiano Ronaldo now added to their star-studded ranks it’s hard to see the scales tipping against them this season.
Promoted Parma’s encouraging start to the season is a refreshing change for their fans, who have had to endure their side propping up the table for an average of 39 days a year over the last decade, while spending around a fifth of their time in the bottom three overall.
Few will be shocked to learn that one team in particular has dominated the German top division over the last decade. Bayern Munich have spent an average of 164 days per season at the top of the Bundesliga – comfortably more than everyone else put together – and less than two weeks per season outside the top half.
Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen are the only other clubs to have spent more than half of their time in the top four, and between them they have occupied top spot for around two months per season.
Two teams stand out as having something of a rollercoaster existence: Borussia Monchengladbach and Hertha Berlin rank fifth and sixth respectively for the proportion of days spent in a Champions League spot, but have also each spent over 10% of their time in the bottom three, and an average of a month apiece at the foot of the table.
It will come as no surprise to learn that PSG have been the most common sight at the top of the Ligue 1 table in recent years.
The champions have spent over 100 days per season in top spot and over two thirds of their time in one of the Champions League places. Their closest rivals have been Lyon, Marseille and Monaco, who have each occupied a top-three place for over a third of the last decade.
Things have been far less polarised at the bottom of the table, with no current club having spent even a fifth of their time in the relegation zone or an average of 10 days per season in last place.
Dijon are the only team in the top flight this season to have featured in at least three of the previous 10 campaigns without occupying a top-three spot at any point.
In Belgium, the league table splits in two after the teams play each other twice, so we’ve only calculated the tables up to this point. We’ve also looked at the last eight years rather than the last 10 due to a different number of clubs being present prior to this point.
Anderlecht and Club Brugge stand out as the most dominant, having each spent over 90% of their time in one of the top six spots that qualify for the championship play-offs and averaging around 70 days per season at the top of the table.
Fans of Eupen have enjoyed their club’s time in the top flight far less, with almost two thirds of their time spent in the bottom three and an average of 79 days per season at the foot of the table.
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