The end of 2021 signalled the middle part of the 21/22 season for most football leagues around the world. It also signalled the end of what was a topsy turvy and incredibly exciting year for football.
2021 hoisted a host of new football stars into the limelight, really highlighting how many up-and-coming talents the European game currently has to offer.
Names like Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Mason Mount, and Vinicius Junior are all household names following the years they each had respectively.
However, 2021 also held many surprises for some of football’s biggest institutions with some unexpected names claiming Europe’s biggest prizes in the continually changing footballing landscape.
The following clubs excelled in 2021 earning a place on this top 5 list:
This Spanish club was founded in 1942 and had to wait all the way until 2021 to claim its first-ever major honour when it defeated footballing giants Manchester United in the Europa League Final which took place on the 26th of May.
With former Arsenal manager Unai Emery at the helm, the team seems to have found itself in a real groove in 2021 earning a Champions League spot and currently looking strong at the midway point of the La Liga season.
Lille have not experienced the Ligue 1 glory days since Eden Hazard’s departure in 2012 which was the last time, they were league champions until 2021.
Usurping obvious favourites and modern footballing powerhouse PSG to the title, the 2021 Ligue 1 champions caused one of footballs biggest upsets last year.
Atletico Madrid have always been the outsiders in the La Liga two-horse race between Real Madrid and Barcelona, but that should not take away from the class and success which the club has achieved over the past decade.
In 2021 Atletico claimed only their second title since 1995 capping off what was a fantastic year for the club.
Star striker Luis Suarez was signed from rivals Barcelona after being deemed excess to requirements by the Catalan club (who themselves are in serious financial trouble) and was instrumental to Atletico winning the 2021 title.
Not much needs to be said about the recent success of Manchester City football club. They’ve undoubtedly usurped Manchester United as the strongest club in the city.
Over the past decade, they’ve created somewhat of a dynasty that isn’t looking to stop winning any time soon.
In 2021 they won yet another Premier League title as well as the League Cup.
Chelsea had a rollercoaster of a 2021, firing club legend Frank Lampard as their manager in January and deciding to hire former Borussia Dortmund and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel to take up the reigns as his successor.
Things were looking bleak for the London based club as they started the year in 9th position when the new manager took over.
They ended the season in 4th as well as winning the biggest prize on offer in European Football – the UEFA Champions League.
They capped the year off by winning the UEFA Super Cup against Villareal.