The 2021/22 season has just been concluded, and what a season it has been! It was full of thrills, suspense, and classic entertainment.
From Eintracht Frankfurt defeating Barcelona en route to winning the Europa League, Benzema and Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League heroics, Liverpool’s quadruple bid, Villarreal’s surprising run to the Champions League semi-finals, and the final day title dramas in the English Premier League and the Italian Serie A.
In this article, TOP SOCCER BLOG presents you with 10 European football clubs that impressed this season. We will not be focusing on the European heavyweights like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City that were expected to have good seasons.
1. AC Milan
Just a few years ago, AC Milan were in a total mess as they were struggling financially and couldn’t secure qualification for the Champions League. But their fortunes have changed rapidly.
The Rossoneri impressively secured a return to Europe’s premier club football competition last season by finishing 2nd in Serie A but were a far 12 points behind champions, Inter Milan.
AC Milan went one better this season and impressively won the Serie A title for the first time in 11 years, against all odds.
On the 22nd of May 2022, following victory in their final match against Sassuolo, AC Milan were crowned champions for the first time since the 2010/11 season — winning a 19th league title overall.
It is quite an extraordinary feat that nobody expected, given the club was in total disarray just three years ago.
2. Eintracht Frankfurt
Eintracht Frankfurt made a fairytale run to the UEFA Europa League title this season. The German side shockingly defeated Barcelona in the semi-finals by winning at Camp Nou!
They defeated Rangers in the final to secure a memorable feat that automatically qualifies them for next season’s UEFA Champions League, despite finishing 11th in the Bundesliga.
Villareal may not command the same respect as the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid, Sevilla, and Valencia in Spain, but they have a good track record in European football.
The Yellow Submarines reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2006 and stunned Manchester United to win the Europa League last season.
Unai Emery’s men went a step further this season by astonishingly reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League against all odds — defeating Juventus and Bayern Munich on their way!
This is an incredible achievement given their limited finances in the modern era where they find themselves competing against clubs backed by multi-billionaire owners.
4. Real Betis
Real Betis had a season that their fans will remember forever.
On the 23rd of April 2022, Betis won the Copa del Rey final against Valencia after drawing 1-1 after extra-time and winning 5-4 on penalties. It was their first trophy after 17 years since they last won the Copa del Rey in 2005.
Their Copa del Rey triumph secured automatic qualification to the Europa League next season.
Rangers are back among the big boys!!!
After several years of playing second fiddle to Celtic, Rangers are back to their glory days. They won the Scottish Premier League last season and reached the final of the Europa League this season, losing to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Rangers recovered from their Europa League disappointment to beat Hearts 2-0 after extra-time to win the Scottish Cup for the first time in 13 years (they last won it in 2009).
Fans will be optimistic of a bright future for the club.
6. West Ham United
West Ham United are no longer a team that battles against relegation from the Premier League anymore. The Hammers have clicked a new gear under David Moyes.
They impressed in the EPL last season and secured qualification to the Europa League in 2021/22. West Ham showed that they can compete at the highest level as they reached the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champions, Eintracht Frankfurt.
It was their first semi-final appearance in a European competition since 1976.
Moyes’ men were also the bogey boys in the Premier League this season as they regularly proved to be a tough nut to crack for the big teams in England.
Although the Hammers disappointedly failed to secure a Europa League place by losing on the final day of the season, they nevertheless guaranteed a return to Europe by qualifying for the UEFA Conference League.
Nantes almost got relegated from the French Ligue 1 last season, but they have significantly improved this term around as they finished 9th in the league.
Nantes, who only avoided relegation in a play-off last season, also stunned everyone by winning the French Cup for the first time in 22 years (and 4th time overall).
They also qualified for Europe for the first time in two decades.
8. AS Roma
Roma took a huge gamble by hiring the very controversial Jose Mourinho as manager last summer. The decision has hugely paid off as the Giallarosi are on the verge of winning their first-ever European trophy.
Mourinho has guided them to the inaugural final of the newly created UEFA Europa Conference League, where they will face Feyenoord. History about to be made!
9. Olympique Marseille
Marseille impressed this season under their charismatic manager, Jorge Sampaoli. They reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Conference League, where they lost out to Feyenoord.
They also finished 2nd in Ligue 1 and secured automatic qualification to the UEFA Champions League next season.
Marseille defeated Strasbourg in the last match of the season. The full-time whistle saw their fans, players, and the coaching staff in tears as they celebrated the monumental win on the final day of an amazing season.
10. Newcastle United
A new dawn has begun in the history of Newcastle United as a result of the taking over of the club by the extremely wealthy Saudi Arabian government.
But the Magpies were in real danger of getting relegated from the Premier League earlier this season.
Before the appointment of Eddie Howe as manager, Newcastle were languishing in 19th position in the Premier League table, without a single win.
Howe — who should have been named as the Premier League Manager of the Season — quickly turned the club’s fortune around in an astonishing fashion.
Not only did Newcastle escape relegation, but they also finished in 11th place in the Premier League. Quite an achievement!
With so much money to spend, Newcastle United’s rise as a dominant force in English, European, and world football is imminent.
11. Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest secured promotion to the 2022/23 English Premier League season after 23 years away. The promotion completes a remarkable season for Forest, who were bottom of the table after eight games when Steve Cooper took charge of the club in late September. The club finished fourth in the Championship table and won the playoffs to secure an EPL promotion.
Last season also, Nottingham Forest managed to dump Arsenal out of the FA Cup in the third round with a late 1-0 victory. They also defeated Leicester City 4-1 in the next round, before losing to Liverpool in the FA Cup quarterfinals.
Other notable football clubs that were impressive in the 2021/22 football season are Wolves, Lazio, Bayer Leverkusen, Union Berlin, and Feyenoord.