The 2016-17 wasn’t without surprise clubs which achieved their highest positions in their histories or historical promotions of clubs which were forgotten,since there was no underdog title winner like Leicester City which was last season,nevertheless underdog clubs played a huge role this season.So here are the overachievers of the 2016-17 season.
The most biggest surprise of the 2016-17 season comes from Italy.The queen of the provincial clubs which is Atalanta had a historical season.A season ago they were in the middle of the table,this season they made their biggest achievement by finishing 4th in the Serie A with a record of 72 points which is their best Serie A result ever and returned to European competition for the first time in 26 years when the last time they played in Europe.Gian Piero Gasperini’s men had a tough schedule in the end by playing with Roma,Juventus and AC Milan but they overcame it and wrote history and next season at the Atleti Azzurri D’Italia in Bergamo,the UEFA Europe League will come.
2.Brighton & Hove Albion
For years Brighton & Hove Albion was a promotion candidate to the Premier League,in the 2015-16 season they missed an automatic promotion place at the final day of the season,but this season the Seagulls made history and returned for the first time in 34 years when they were in the former First Division.Years of determination and hard work have finally paid off for the Seagulls which just two decades ago were near oblivion when they almost were relegated to the Conference League.The English South Coast will be richer for one more club in the Premier League and the rivalry with Crystal Palace will be rekindled after years of disappearance,so expect a real derby atmosphere when Palace and the Seagulls play in the Premier League next season.
This season was one of the most contested in Ligue 1 where three clubs were running for the Ligue 1 title and one of those was Nice.The club from the French Riviera took an early lead in the title race but thanks to a number of draws they slumped into third,but eventually they were the once that decided that the title would go to Monaco since they defeated PSG 3-1 on matchday 35 and gave Monaco their first title in 19 years.However the red-blacks also enjoyed resurgence thanks to Mario Balotelli and former Borussia Monchengladbach coach Lucien Favre on the bench.The red-blacks finished 3rd with 78 points.Nice has become a force to be reckoned with in French football and with a new stadium and financially stable owners expect them in the following years to be a title challenger in Ligue 1.
For years Hoffenheim has been a decent Bundesliga side,this season they took a step further.Thanks to the aquisitions of former Rijeka and Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric and former Darmstadt striker Sandro Wagner together with the future of German coaching Julian Nagelsmann who is the youngest Budesliga coach at only 29 years old,the Kreisgauer finished 4th with 62 points which is their best ever Bundesliga finish since they were promoted in 2008 and qualifications for the UEFA Champions League are in play for the next season.Their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga lasted for five long months from the beginning of the season in mid-August to mid-January,nevertheless a well deserved and surprising table finish for the Kreisgauer which will hopefully see the highest division of European club football.
The great escape of 2017 comes from Italy and it comes from the club which last season was promoted to the Serie A.The Sharks from Calabria,Crotone have pulled the great escape from relegation this season and the fairytale of the small club from Southern Italy will continue in the Serie A for another season.For much of the season Crotone was deep in the relegation zone and chased Empoli which were in the safe place besides the Azzurri had an advantage of 11 points over the Sharks in the last two months of the Serie A campaign.Starting in early april began the great escape for the Sharks which they just lost on matchday 37 against Juventus,but collected 20 out of possible 27 points which included a huge 2-1 victory over Inter in matchday 31.Combined with Empoli’s loss against Palermo and the Sharks huge win over Lazio at home,the Sharks pulled the great escape of 2017 and their fairytale in the Serie A will continue next season.
A historical promotion which ended 50 years of waiting for SPAL was achieved this season,but no one gave them chances before the Serie B season started.The last time SPAL played in the Serie A was in 1968 and after their relegation that year began a 50 year journey through the football wilderness,two bankrupcies in the last decade and just four years ago they were in the Serie D,the fourth division.Four years later the Biancazzurri made history under Leonardo Semplici who led them to two consecutive promotions and ended a 50 year journey in the football wilderness where they will join their more famous neighbors in Emilia-Romagna Sassuolo and Bologna in the Serie A next season.
The biggest sensation of the FA Cup this season comes from Lincolnshire and involves Lincoln City which have made it to the match beyond when it came to non-league clubs.For the first time since 1914 a non-league club made it to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and that were the Imps.They knocked out Guinsley,Altrincham,Ipswich Town,Brighton & Hove Albion and sensationally Burnley in 5th round to make to the quarterfinals against Arsenal besides they lost the match 5-0,neverthless Danny Cowley’s men made history and to complete their fantastic season they were promoted back to the EFL League Two where they would play next season.
A former and forgotten champion of England wandered in the football wilderness for so long that everyone forgot them.But after 47 years of waiting,the Terriers made it to the highest division of English football.A historical promotion since the Terriers weren’t close in the last seasons and they could only dream what other clubs have done,but the hiring of David Wagner and the determination of the Hoyle family has paid off and the most unlikeliest of all clubs who made it to the playoffs this EFL Championship season made it to the Premier League.During the regular season the Terriers have finished 5th with 81 points which was a huge improvement unlike the earlier seasons where they were on the bottom side of the EFL Championship table,but very few gave them chances to go all the way in the promotion playoffs,it took two penalty shootouts against promotion favorites Sheffield Wednesday and Reading to make it to the promised land of the Premier League where the Terriers will play.