These teams were the most successful in the previous year due to their performances.

Football got back to some sense of normalcy in 2021 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans made their way back into the stadiums and the year saw plenty of action, albeit under some restrictions initially. Several major competitions, primarily the European leagues saw new champions. In addition to the league titles, the continental tournaments experienced stiff competition and new winners.

Europe is widely considered as the highest level in terms of club football. In the various competitions around the continent, some clubs were a class apart from the rest of their competitors. These teams found extra gear in their performances and gave their fans a lot of reasons to celebrate. 

Hence, looking back at the year which is concluding soon, here are the five best clubs in Europe in 2021.

5. LOSC Lille

Ligue 1 experienced the end of Paris Saint-Germain’s domination of the French top-flight by LOSC Lille. The outfit won the 2020-21 edition of the league against heavy odds. PSG was on a streak of winning the last three titles consecutively and were heavy favourites to win the fourth league title in a row. However, Lille had other plans and managed to win the league title after winning it 10 years ago in 2010-11.

In terms of the most successful individuals from the club in the 2020-21 campaign, Burak Yilmaz scored 16 goals, followed by Jonathan David with 13 goals in the league. Winger Jonathan Bamba made 11 assists, which was the second-highest tally in the league behind Memphis’s 12 assists. Lille also went on to win the French Super Cup ahead of the 2021-22 season. Thus they became one of the best clubs in Europe in 2021.

4. Sporting CP

Sporting tipped Porto and Benfica to win the Portuguese league (Courtesy: SportsLumo)

The Portuguese league is popular for being a two-horse race. Every season, FC Porto and SL Benfica fight each other for the league title while the rest of the competition struggles to keep up with them. Sporting CP is often seen as the third-best side in the division but managed to leave both favourites behind to win the league in 2021. The outfit won the 2020-21 season of the Portuguese league, after a gap of 20 years.

Ruben Amorim’s work with the team received a lot of recognition. Pedro Goncalves scored 23 goals in 32 appearances, winning the golden boot by the end of the 2020-21 campaign. Sporting CP also won the Portuguese League Cup and the Super Cup in the calendar year, thus becoming one of the best clubs of 2021.

3. Inter Milan

The Nerazzurri were another outfit that ended a long-running domestic hegemony. By winning the Serie A, Inter Milan put an end to Juventus’ run of nine successive league wins. Antonio Conte’s Inter finished as the champions of the 2020-21 season of the Serie A and look favourites to defend their crown by the end of the 2021-22 season as well. 

Inter also won the Serie A after a gap of 11 years. The manner of winning the league was particularly noteworthy as Inter finished 12 points ahead of the second placed team. 

2. Villarreal CF

Emery’s Villarreal won the Europa League for the first time in their history (Courtesy: CNN)

Villareal were one of the biggest achievers in 2021. The La Liga outfit wrote a new chapter in their history by winning the UEFA Europa League. They won the 2020-21 edition by defeating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United in the final in a memorable encounter, thus becoming one of the best clubs of 2021.

It took penalties to settle the tie but eventually, the Spanish side emerged victorious by winning the tiebreaker with a 12-11 score. This was Villareal’s first-ever European title and a large credit for it goes to their tactician Unai Emery who had won the competition thrice before. 

1. Chelsea 

The Blues were the biggest winners in 2021 and the most successful European club. The Premier League outfit won the UEFA Champions League by defeating Manchester City in the final. The all-English final was heavily in favour of the Cityzens, who were the English league champions. However, Thomas Tuchel’s men caused an upset and won the 2020-21 edition of the biggest club trophy in Europe.

Moreover, the Blues secured the UEFA Super Cup by defeating UEL winners Villareal CF. The London-based outfit also reached the final of the FA Cup but narrowly lost the tie to Leicester City. Overall, Chelsea were easily the best club in Europe in 2021. 

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