Because less players equal more space to pass and move

Would a Leicester title be the biggest ever shock?

Leicester City’s transformation under Claudio Ranieri has been truly remarkable.


Last season, the club only just secured their Premier League status on the penultimate weekend in a dramatic relegation escape. With nine games remaining of this current campaign, the Foxes are sitting pretty at the top of England’s top-flight and are favourites to lift the trophy; something very few would have predicted before a ball was kicked.

Should Leicester go on to clinch the league title, where would their achievement sit in relation to other memorable footballing stories?

Nottingham Forest, back-to-back European Cups (1978-1980)
When Brian Clough arrived at Nottingham Forest in 1975, the club were struggling in the old English Division Two. Just four years later, Forest were European champions and would go on to defend their cup the very next year, subsequently giving their players hero-like status.

In 1979, a single Trevor Francis header was enough to overcome Malmö FF, and it was another 1-0 win in the 1980 final that did for Hamburg. Although Forest are no longer one of the leading British clubs of today, their European triumphs remain legendary and Clough is widely considered as one of the most successful British mangers of all time.

Denmark, Euro 1992 winners
Euro 92 winners Denmark were given just over a week to prepare themselves for the tournament after Yugoslavia were banned from taking part. Upon finishing second in their group behind Yugoslavia, Denmark had originally missed out on Euro qualification. Yet, quite incredibly, less than a month later the Danes were champions of Europe.

After failing to win either of their opening two group games at Euro 92, Denmark needed to beat the French in their third fixture to progress and did so thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory. The Danes then beat the Dutch on penalties in the semis, before putting two past Germany in the final to complete an incredible tale and write their name into European football folklore.

Calais reach the French Cup final (2000)
In 2000, French minnows Calais came close to achieving a footballing miracle when they suffered an agonising last-minute defeat at the hands of Nantes in the French Cup final. This Calais team was the closest thing to a footballing fairy tale – their team was made of up amateurs, including everyone from ferry workers to shop assistants.

The underdogs even took the lead in the final before two second-half goals from Antoine Sibierski, including an injury time penalty, spared Nantes’ blushes and broke Calais hearts. Calais may have fallen just short of winning the trophy itself, but their miraculous journey to the French Cup final will continue to be talked about for years to come.

Porto, Champions League winners (2004)
In 2004, former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was a relatively unknown quantity in the footballing world, but this all changed after he guided his Porto team to European glory that same year. On their way to the final, Porto successfully emerged from a group that also included Spanish giants Real Madrid, before knocking out Manchester United, Lyon and Deportivo La Coruña over two legs.

In a final that not many would have anticipated, Mourinho’s men convincingly overcame Monaco in a comfortable 3-0 win. Mourinho was subsequently lauded for his tactical genius that delivered an unlikely victory to a side that undoubtedly exceeded the sum of their parts.

Greece, Euro 2004 winners
Porto weren’t the only surprise package of 2004 - just two months later Greece were crowned champions of Europe after defeating hosts Portugal in an astonishing Euro 2004. Greece progressed to the knockout phase after finishing second in their group before a hat-trick of 1-0 victories over France, the Czech Republic and Portugal sealed a remarkable feat.

Greece were priced at 150/1 before the competition got underway and had never won a match at a major tournament. By the end, German manager Otto Rehhagel had earned himself a special place in Greek hearts, with his ability to get the best out of a team of unsung names and his astute tactical knowledge proving a recipe for success.