7 Teams Who Have Been Surprisingly Good to Start the 2020/21 Season

Football without fans is just out of control. It's outright bonkers, but bloody brilliant also.

At a time in the modern game where supergiants were further strengthening their grip on their respective divisions, the poxy coronavirus arrived to distort the dynamic of, well, pretty much everything.

But for the footballing world, a global pandemic was, perhaps, exactly what was required to bring an end to the monopolies and duopolies that had emerged in Europe's 'big boy' leagues.

Juventus have won nine Scudetti on the spin in Italy | Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

While the inception of Manchester City and Liverpool's period of supremacy was only recent in the Premier League; Barcelona and Real Madrid have had a stranglehold over Spain since 2004, while Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus have flat-out dominated the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A respectively throughout the 2010s.

But such is the unpredictable nature of the current footballing climate, 2020/21 is destined to be the most stunning season of the modern, financially motivated era with title races never looking so universally unforeseeable.

Thus, with five unfancied outfits currently leading the continent's premier quintet of leagues, let's take a look at some of the sides who are have been early beneficiaries of the unprecedented nature of the 2020/21 season.

1. Aston Villa

Aston Villa followed-up their rout of Liverpool with a 1-0 win at Leicester | JON SUPER/Getty Images

Aston Villa's 7-2 triumph over Liverpool was certainly a fluke - the margin of victory that is - but it's pretty obvious that after four games, Dean Smith's side are a bloody good outfit.

Their work in the transfer market was magnificent after getting it horribly wrong the previous summer. Matty Cash is a monster upgrade at right-back, while they now boast a bona fide goalscorer in Ollie Watkins.

Villa look like a tremendously well-balanced side in Smith's 4-2-3-1, with the double pivot consisting of the vastly underrated John McGinn and Douglas Luiz - whose resurgence has seen him develop into one of the Premier League's finest defensive midfielders - proving key in their early success.

Oh, and it's fair to say Jack Grealish is a wee bit special as well.

Four wins from four? Go on, boys, 'do a Leicester'.

2. Cadiz

Cadiz stunned a bunch of salmon at the weekend | PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/Getty Images

Last season, it was Granada who decided to send a shockwave or two through Spain following their return to the top-flight. This time around, it's the turn of Cadiz.

Spearheaded by 35-year-old Alvaro Negredo, Cadiz have made a bright start in La Liga following a 14-year absence. They've been unfortunate in their two defeats thus far, succumbing to a late Sevilla show in their second, but have already scored some impressive triumphs.

None more so than their 1-0 victory at defending champions Real Madrid on matchday six - their first over Los Blancos in La Liga since 1991.

They currently sit fifth in the table, with the dream surely being a mid-table finish.

3. Lille

Lille currently top Ligue 1 after enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run to start the season | DENIS CHARLET/Getty Images

Unbeaten to start the season, Christophe Galtier's Lille are setting the tone in Ligue 1.

Despite the departures of Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Magalhaes and Victor Osimhen in recent windows, Les Dogues have manoeuvred well in the transfer market to maintain a competitive squad. 20-year-old defender Sven Botman looks a real coup.

Jonathan David is yet to fire but is a player who'll come off the long-term while free agent Buruk Yilmaz has made an immediate impact with three strikes to start the season.

Their protagonist, though, is Jonathan Bamba, who's notched seven goal contributions in as many games.

Lille are well-drilled, young and talented but well-balanced. Could they go one better than their second-place finish two seasons ago?

4. Sassuolo

A bloody good rep... | Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Coached by one of Europe's hottest coaching properties in Roberto De Zerbi, Sassuolo have the potential to be a force in what's poised to be an incredibly competitive Serie A this term.

The Neroverdi weren't exactly busy in the transfer market, they've just continued to evolve under their innovative string-puller. De Zerbi's use of his full-backs is intriguing, while their positional play is generally fantastic.

He's established a harmonious dynamic in their front three with Domenico Berardi rejuvenated as Manuel Locatelli frequently dazzles in midfield. They've won three of four to start the season - scoring four in each of their victories - although their fixture list has been pretty tame thus far.

A serious test of their credentials arrives in two weeks with a trip to Napoli.

5. Stuttgart

Another newly promoted side starting the season strong | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

RB Leipzig, Bayern and Borussia Dortmund still make-up the Bundesliga's top three at this early stage, with Stuttgart seemingly trying to make up for lost time following their demise to the second tier in 2019 - their second relegation in three years.

Nevertheless, coached by proactive American Pellegrino Matarazzo, Die Schwaben have returned to the top tier with a point to prove.

Galvanized by the promising attacking duo of Silas Wamangituka and Sasa Kalajdzic, Stuttgart have collected seven points from their opening four games, leaving them fifth in the table.

Their recent 2-0 victory away at Hertha BSC was very impressive and depicted why they could be a side who contend for Europe this term.

6. Lens

Lens shocked beaten Champions League finalists PSG on matchday one | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

The hasty start of Ligue 1 means all sides are already seven games deep into the campaign, with newly-promoted Lens the only significant outlier in the top half.

A 1-0 victory over a Neymar and Kylian Mbappe-less PSG got their season off to a flyer, with victories over Lorient, Bordeaux and St. Etienne also forthcoming.

Although they were humbled by high-flyers Lille 4-0 at the weekend, Lens' directness and aggression could see them spring a few more surprises before the season's up.

21-year-old Ghanaian Ignatius Ganago is certainly a player to keep an eye out for as the campaign progresses following his fast start. Ganago has four goals in five starts.

7. Everton

Admit it, you didn't think they'd be this good | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Okay, the majority of us thought Everton would be good following their summer work, but not this good.

With Carlo Ancelotti coaching like a dream, their revamped midfield carrying Andre Gomes' load and James Rodriguez shockingly proving a superior creator than Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Toffees have started 2020/21 on absolute fire.

They top the division with 13 points after five games, with their recent Merseyside derby draw highlighting their credentials.

Should the ponytailed salmon continue to fire, the genius Colombian maintain his innovative spark - or just stay fit - and Jordan Pickford continue to injure the league's best, then there's no reason why Ancelotti's fantastic Toffees can't sneak into the top-four come May.

Source : 90min