7 European Teams Who Will Finish Higher Than Most People Expect This Season

Every season, there are a few surprise teams across Europe, finishing higher than most experts predict. Last season RB Leipzig were the best example; being a newly promoted team who now find themselves among the continent's elite. While it is unlikely any of the sides in this list will find themselves champions come May, there is something to be said for finishing higher than what is expected. Here's a look at why each of these clubs will turn heads and finish higher than expected this...

Valencia

Spanish side Valencia present an interesting situation and have the right pieces in place to exceed the relatively low expectations set for them this season. 


A squad that saw heavy turnover from the squad that finished a disappointing 12th last campaign has the potential to catch teams off guard, most notably with attacking flair in a pair of highly-rated loanees - in Goncalo Guedes from PSG and Andreas Pereira from Manchester United.  


Perhaps even more importantly, head coach Marcelino Garcia Toral has a proven record of turning struggling clubs around, as he most recently took Villarreal from the Spanish second division to the Champions League. 


Everything is in place for Valencia to have a similar type of turnaround, and their exciting young squad will likely finish higher than most will initially give them credit for. 

AC Milan

For a club with a decorated history of domestic and European success, Milan have struggled considerably the past few seasons for their standards. 


However this season will feel like a clean slate for the Rossoneri, as a remarkably impressive summer transfer window has them poised to challenge at the top of Serie A. 


The addition of Leonardo Bonucci from rival Juventus, a top five defender in the world, made waves in the Italian football community, and the additions of dynamic left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, set-piece artist Hakan Calhanoglu, and promising Portuguese striker Andre Silva have Milan fans feeling optimistic again.


If their new pieces gel together properly, Milan will surprise many people this season and will be right there near the top come springtime.   

West Brom

A club that has been consistently mediocre for some time is Tony Pulis' West Brom, but after some impressive summer business, this campaign could be the one for them to push for a better finish.


Highly rated Polish midfielder Gregory Krychowiak, a PSG loanee, along with ultimate Premier League journeyman Gareth Barry will solidify the Baggies' midfield, and Kieran Gibbs will prove to be a valuable addition to an experienced back-line. 


Pulis' safety-first style may not be overly-ambitious or the most enjoyable to watch, but given the improved quality throughout the squad, look for West Brom to put together some surprising results and push higher than expected up the table. 

Bordeaux

A team that will feel they can exceed expectations in a top-heavy Ligue 1 is Bordeaux, who is led by a dazzling attack that can change any game in the blink of an eye. 


20-year-old Brazilian winger Malcom is a player not many people are talking about but will soon be a superstar. With 3 goals and 3 assists so far this campaign, Malcom - along with fellow exciting winger Francois Kamano - headline a Bordeaux team capable of springing an upset against any team. 


Besides PSG and Monaco as sure bets at the top, Ligue 1 is very much a division up for grabs, and Bordeaux will undoubtedly be in among the top squads and will likely surprise many in finishing high in the table. 

Wolfsburg

Expectations will be fairly low for a Wolfsburg squad who narrowly avoided relegation last season, but there is far too much talent in their squad to finish towards the bottom again this term.


Last season was a tumultuous one, as a slow start led to the sacking of manager Dieter Hecking, and replacement Valerian Ismael turned out to be the wrong man for the job and was dismissed as well. Furthermore, the sale of their best player Julian Draxler left spirits at an all-time low.


Ultimately, Wolfsburg have too much talent to be playing in relegation playoffs, and a season without constant coaching and player changes will ensure they do not finish near the bottom again, and if all goes well potentially challenge for Europe. 

Burnley

In the always-competitive Premier League, sometimes the most dangerous teams aren't always the ones with the most expensive squad or the flashiest players, but rather those with an identity, and that is exactly what Burnley have under Sean Dyche. 


A relentless, physical style of play doesn't make for great viewing and will not light up any highlight reels, but under Dyche, Burnley have proven again and again their ability to frustrate opposing attacks, clog the midfield and take advantage of set pieces to grind out results.


You always know what you're going to get from Burnely and that is an entire team buying into their system. With a couple of decent seasons now under their belt, Burnley are primed for an ascent up the table.  

Hannover 96

As mentioned earlier, RB Leipzig laid the foundation for teams out-performing their expectations, and this season Hannover will look to replicate the incredible season Leipzig had last year.


With three wins in their first five games this season after securing promotion to the Bundesliga, Hannover look poised to prove they belong in the top flight. 


They do not have the talent in their squad that Leipzig had last season so a comparison would not be entirely fair, but a season-opening win away to Mainz followed by another victory against a very good team in Shalke turned some heads. 


Hannover have already proven they belong in the Bundesliga, and in-form striker Martin Harnik will continue to lead them further than many pundits would have predicted before the season.

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