The Biggest Shocks from Newly Promoted Football Clubs

The Biggest Shocks from Newly Promoted Football Clubs

Manchester United, Barcelona and Lazio have all suffered shock defeats at the hands of newly promoted clubs. This is how each happened…

When Burnley welcome Manchester United to Turf Moor, the two clubs will be in very different situations to their first meeting in the Premier League era.

The Clarets are embarking on their first ever season in the Europa League – and their first in any kind of European competition in half a century. Indeed, they were unlucky not to walk away from Old Trafford with all three points last season.

It was a different story back in 2009, though, when they had only just dipped their toe into the Premier League water.

United were the reigning champions at the time, and while they might have lost Cristiano Ronaldo that summer, they could still call upon the likes of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and summer signing Michael Owen.

Optimists might have been prepared for Robbie Blake giving Burnley a surprise lead, but few could have foreseen the defensive display which ensured that was the only goal of the game.

Veteran goalkeeper Brian Jensen made nine saves, including keeping out a Michael Carrick penalty, as Burnley held on for a famous win.

That victory is just one of a number of unlikely triumphs from newly promoted clubs against the European football elite, and it’s not just restricted to England. Barcelona 0-2 Hércules, 2010 Barcelona rarely lose at Camp Nou. Indeed, they only did so four times in La Liga under Pep Guardiola, which makes it even more remarkable that one of those losses came against newly promoted Hércules.

The team from Alicante had been playing third-tier football just six years earlier, but wanted to have a proper crack at La Liga’s finest. That meant a few marquee signings, including World Cup winner David Trézeguet on a free from Juventus and a loan move for Real Madrid’s Royston Drenthe, but it was another of the new arrivals who did the business against Barça.

Nelson Haedo Valdez had a Bundesliga title to his name with Werder Bremen, but that had come several years earlier.

The Paraguay striker gave the visitors a shock first-half lead, stabbing home the rebound after a fine save from Victor Valdés, but his second goal was the stand-out: Barcelona had already become known for their tiki-taka under Guardiola, but here was a promoted team opening them up with their passing, with Tiago Gomes getting in behind on the right and pulling the ball back for Valdez to rifle it home.

Sadly for Hércules, their stay in La Liga would only last one season, but a win against arguably the best squad in Europe this century isn’t a bad souvenir.

Chievo Verona 3-1 Lazio, 2002
There’s recently been an unwritten rule for newly promoted teams in Serie A. They’ll win a few games, generally against mid-table opposition, and then disappear quietly without kicking up much of a fuss.

Chievo have now graduated to being one of those teams that gives the upstarts one of those rare wins, but back in 2001 they were the new kids on the block, fully expected to enjoy their one and only season.

Few, however, had counted on their unlikely combination of hotshot Massimo Marazzina, future World Cup winner Simone Perrotta and fake passport holder Eriberto (or should that be Luciano?).

Luigi Delneri’s squad picked up four wins from their first five games, surrendering a 2-0 lead away to Juventus in the other, and were still in Champions League contention when Lazio came to town in January

It looked like they would be brought back down to earth when Claudio López gave the 1999/2000 Champions a half-time lead, but Chievo hadn’t read the script. Marazzina equalised seconds after the restart, before Eugenio Corini added two late goals to seal victory

The result would be enough to see Chievo finish the season above Lazio, with defeat to Roma in May the only thing keeping the Veronese side from a Champions League spot

No promoted team has finished higher than fifth place in the decade-and-a-half since – this wasn’t just a one-off giant-killing, but rather an entire season of it.