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The Biggest Upset League Title Wins in Football

Biggest Upset League Title Wins

Last Updated on January 10, 2022

As a football fan, have you ever felt the need to know which small teams have caused the biggest upset league title wins?

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Winning a league title in football is an incredible achievement. Overall, a team has to be better than every other team in the League (in all major departments) to win the title.

In an ideal situation, the big teams in the league are expected to challenge for or win the title. However, there have been some exceptional cases of unexpected teams coming from nowhere to win the League.

Indeed, the biggest upset league title wins are incredible. Why? It is not just a one-match wonder. Being better than every other team in the league over the course of the season is an unreal achievement especially where there is little or no budget.

We’ll highlight some of the biggest upset league title wins across the world in no particular order.

Sporting CP | 2020/21 Season

Sporting had not won the Portuguese Primeira Liga for 19 years. But somehow, they miraculously won the league in the 2020/21 season.

Ideally, you’ll expect Porto or Benfica to win the Primeira Liga.

Take a look at the last 10 winners of the Premeira: it’s either Porto or Benfica.

SNSeasonLeague WinnersPoints
12019–20Porto82
22018–19Benfica87
32017–18Porto88
42016–17Benfica82
52015–16Benfica88
62014–15Benfica85
72013–14Benfica74
82012–13Porto78
92011–12Porto75
102010–11Porto84
The Last 10 Winners of the Portuguese Primeira Liga

Twente | 2009/10 Season

Twente FC won the Eredivisie title in the 2009/10 season in a somewhat surprising fashion.

A few years before they won the title, they were officially declared Bankrupt. But somehow, Steve Mc Laren masterminded a shocking League victory. In the process, the Englishman became the first manager to win the league title for Twente.

It is indeed an upset because you’d expect Ajax or PSV to clinch the title.

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Az Alkmaar | 2008/09 Season

Az Alkmaar winning the Eredivisie in the 2008/09 season has to be one of the biggest upset league title wins in Football.

Louis Van Gaal and his troops won the League by 11 points ahead of Twente, ahead of Twente Ajax, and PSV.

Feyenoord | 2016/17 Season

In the Eredivisie again, Feyenoord caused an upset in the 2016/17 season. They won the league by just 1 point on the last day of the season.

Usually, PSV or Ajax are expected to win the title but it proved to be different in that season.

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In that campaign, they won 26 of their 34 matches, drew 4, and lost just 4 matches. They earned 82 points in total. Only Ajax came closest to them with 81 points.

Leicester City | 2015/16 Season

In the history of the Premier League, no team has ever won the league in the manner Leicester City did. From the relegation spot, Leicester City became 5000/1 winners of the Premier League.

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No one expected them to win. As of 2016, Premier League followers would expect Manchester City or Chelsea to win the League.

Leicester’s Premier League win is even more surprising because they were just promoted to the Premier League in the 2013/14 season.

Auxerre | 1995/96 Season

In the 1995/96 season, Auxerre won the French league and cup double. They managed to win the league with just 72 points – which is a bit very low. In the 2017/18 season, for example, PSG won the league with 93 points and Auxerre would have been 5th in that season with 72 points.

2017/18 Ligue 1 table

Nonetheless, Auxerre’s League win was still a shocker under the leadership of Guy Roux, who is the longest-serving manager in a football club. Incredibly, Roux had 44 seasons with Auxerre.

Nottingham Forest | 1977/78 Season

Nottingham Forest won the Premier League in the 1977/78 season after they had just been promoted from the Championship. Without any doubt, this is one of the biggest upset league title wins

Currently, Nottingham Forrest is in the Championship.

Blackburn Rovers | 1994/95 Season

Blackburn Rovers stunned Premier League fans in 1995 as they beat Manchester United to the league title by just 1 point.

Ever since then, they’ve never really been close to winning the League.

Blackburn currently plays in the English Championship.

FC Kaiserslautern | 1997/98 Season

Just like Nottingham Forrest, Kaiserslautern won the League title after just being promoted from the second division.

Kaiserslautern won the Bundesliga by just 2 points – beating usual winners – Bayern Munich.

Chevio Verona | 1984/85 Season

Chievo Verona were never were a top team in Italy, and Juventus (with Platini and Boniek) were dominating in the 1980s. Verona came out of nowhere to win the Serie A in the 1984/85 season.

Coincidentally, that was the only season Italy didn’t announce the ref prior to the match. Verona came from nowhere to win and you could guess it never ever happened again.

Sampdoria | 1990/91 Season

They had an amazing team who won the Serie A title and nearly won the European Cup (in 1992) but haven’t come close since then.

Sampdoria’s League win was a major upset in Serie A because no one expected them to win.

Boavista | 2000/01 Season

Boavista shockingly won the Portuguese Primeira Liga in 2001, beating Porto by just one point.

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Ever since then, they’ve never really come close to winning the League.

Deportivo La Coruna | 1999/2000 Season

Deportivo La Coruna won La Liga in 2000, although they spent €41.61m in transfers and had a world-class team. See below Deportivo’s league-winning squad in the year 2000.

PositionNationalityPlayer NamePositionNationalityPlayer Name
GKCameroonianJacques Songo’oDFSpanishCésar
DFSpanishManuel PabloFWSpanishIván Pérez
DFSpanishEnrique RomeroMFBrazilianFlávio Conceição
DFMorrocanNoureddine NaybetMFSpanishManel
DFArgentineGabriel SchürrerMFSpanishVíctor
MFBrazilianMauro SilvaDFSpanishLuis Ramis
FWDutchRoy MakaayMFBrazilianDonato
MFBrazilianDjalminhaMFSpanishJaime
FWPortuguesePauletaFWMorrocanSalaheddine Bassir
MFSpanishFranMFYugoslavianSlaviša Jokanović
FWArgentineTuru FloresMFSpanishFernando
MFArgentineLionel ScaloniGKSpanishDani Mallo
GKCzechPetr KoubaDFPortugueseHugo Carreira
Deportivo’s Title-winning squad in the year 2000

Deportivo la Coruna’s title win in the 1999-2000 season was an upset win. From 2000 to 2005.

Unfortunately, Deportivo is currently in the Spanish 3rd tier league.

Valencia | 2003/04 Season

Incredibly, Rafael Benítez-led Valencia won the League by 5 points, beating star-studded Barcelona to the title. See below the Barcelona Squad beaten to the title in 2004 under the stewardship of Frank Rijkaard.

PositionNationalityPlayerPositionNationPlayer
Pos.NationPlayerPos.NationPlayer
GKTurkeyRüştü ReçberMFSpainGabri
DFNetherlandsMichael ReizigerMFPortugalRicardo Quaresma
MFNetherlandsEdgar DavidsMFSpainLuis Enrique (captain)
DFMexicoRafael MárquezMFSpainLuis García
DFSpainCarles PuyolMFBrazilThiago Motta
MFSpainXaviMFSpainAndrés Iniesta
FWArgentinaJavier SaviolaGKSpainVíctor Valdés
MFNetherlandsPhillip CocuMFSpainRamón Ros
FWNetherlandsPatrick KluivertDFSpainÓscar López
MFBrazilRonaldinhoGKSpainAlbert Jorquera
MFNetherlandsMarc OvermarsDFSpainOleguer
DFNetherlandsGiovanni van BronckhorstFWSpainSergio García
MFSpainGerardMFSpainSergio Santamaría
DFSpainMario
Barcelona 2003/04 Squad

The most interesting thing about Valencia’s title win is that they were 5 points behind with just 10 matches to go.

Lille | 2020/21 Season

How Lile managed to win the French Ligue 1 at the expense of PSG is beyond explanation. They sold their talisman (in Victor Osimhen to Napoli) just before the season started. Somehow they still managed to win the league.

Lille’s title win is one of the biggest upset league titles win in football.

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Montpellier | 2011/12 Season

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In the French Ligue 1 again, Montpellier caused another upset in the 2011/12 season.

Montpellier won their first-ever Ligue 1 title by 3 points, ahead of PSG.

In that season, Oliver Giroud was the league’s highest goalscorer with 21 goals.

Interestingly, Montepeliier didn’t even have up to a fifth of PSG’s budget, yet they clinched the title ahead of them. It was indeed a shocker.

Athletico Madrid | 2013/14 Season

Athletico were a side that had 1/6 of the squad value of Barca and Madrid who were in their golden eras. In addition, Messi and Ronaldo were somewhat in their prime.

They won it on the final matchday of the season, in the Camp Nou of all places. Barca would’ve won the title had they won that game but a Godin header won Atleti their first la Liga title in 19 years. It was just unbelievable.

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