The Stereotypes of European Football

With the Champions League and Europa League group stages now fully underway, Eion Smith takes a look at the types of sides to watch out for when watching continental football this season…

The Big Guns

What To Expect

Always considered amongst the favourites for European success, the big guns are sides bred to win at all costs and generally win their respective country’s league. Expect to see comfortable group progression, big name players and managers and intense scrutiny surrounding their games. The football will have moments of extreme quality but be aware of petulance and aggression in the later stages of competitions as the pressure grows.


Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid

The Dangers

What To Expect

The dangers are sides that are top teams but not near the superteam level of the big guns. They are packed full of players hungry and eager to succeed and impress and are usually coached by coaches with the same mentality. They are generally solid defensively, tough to break down away from home and full of lethal attacking players whom shine in their fearsome home ground that is considered to be a “good point if you can get it”.


Porto, Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Napoli

The Constant Champions

Anderlecht (purple) have found the going tough in Europe over the last few years

What To Expect

The dominant force domestically, the constant champions are always in the Champions League and will either make it through to the groups or fall meekly in qualifying. Their sides are filled with a mixture of exciting young, domestic talents; established veterans who are solid and some foreign imports who had a touch of class about everything. Occasionally, they will progress out of the groups but for the most part they are there to make up the numbers.


Anderlecht, FC Copenhagen, Olympiacos

The Eastern Europeans

What To Expect

Formerly the “Behind The Iron Curtains”, the Eastern Europeans are (in some cases) similar to the Constant Champions. They are generally built on good, technical passing from their Brazilian/Portuguese/Premier League reject front line and a  rock solid, tough as nails local defense. They too fall in the tough away game category but for the most part, do not travel that well. With a bit of luck, they can have a solid run in the knockouts.


Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit

The Regulars

What To Expect

Not a whole lot. Mostly there to make up the numbers, they struggle against the big guns and have a tendency to be embarrassed by unknown/smaller clubs. Full of good players, they consistently qualify for Europe yet never win anything while being solid and unspectacular in their play. Knockouts are the minimum and maximum ambition.


Lille, Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen

The Unknowns

Azerbaijan's Qarabag (black) are the Europa League's unknown quantity this season
Azerbaijan’s Qarabag (black) are the Europa League’s unknown quantity this season

What To Expect

The unexpected to be frank. Usually the side that makes it through all the qualifying rounds with some kind of remarkable story, they dumbfound pundits with impossible names and random location. Terms like “biggest match in their history” and “dream tie” get thrown around a lot as do cricket score predictions. These are usually wrong as the side goes on to put on a good show with their core of good, local players and ragtag bunch of foreigners that only gets this one chance at the big time. Generally the hipster favourite.


Qarabag, Ludogorets

 That sums up what types of teams you can find in Europe this season. Do you agree with these stereotypes? Have there been any that have been missed? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter (links are next to this). Stay tuned for more coming from The Long Ball (honest!) in the near future.



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