The Unlikely Winners Of The 2023/24 Season

Image credit: Eurosport

The UEFA Champions League final where Real Madrid beat Dortmund 2-0 on Sunday night closed the curtains on the 2023/24 club football season. It has been a great season of football, made even better by unexpected victors and unexpected storylines. Here we will look at just some of those shocking winners we have witnessed in the 2023/24 season.

Bayer Leverkusen

With five games to spare, Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga. They also won the DFB-Pokal. The German team have had an incredible season, boasting impressive stats not only in the Bundesliga but in all competitions. In 53 games in all competitions, Leverkusen won 43, drew nine and lost only one. Their only loss came in their second to last game of the season, the UEFA Europa League final, where they lost 3-0 to Atalanta.

Looking back at the previous season (2022/23), Leverkusen finished 6th in the Bundesliga, were knocked out of first round of the DFB-Pokal, and knocked out of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League and lost the semi-finals of the Europa League. To follow up a difficult season with a complete turnaround in performance in the 2023/24 season is highly commendable. In what was an incredible season, manager Xabi Alonso led his team to two out of three trophies.

What makes their season all the more impressive is that by winning the Bundesliga, they have become champions of Germany for the first time in their 120-year history. They are also the first team to win the title over Bayern Munich who won the title 11 years in a row prior to this season.

Italy and Atalanta

In April, it was confirmed that Italy was the first nation to benefit from UEFA’s extra Champions League spot. The extra spot in Europe’s most prestigious competition is based on countries’ overall records in European competitions. Italy came out on top ahead of Germany, England, France, Spain, Belgium and Czechia respectively, despite not being looked at as favourites in the early stages of the 2023/24 season. Germany is the other country to earn the extra UCL spot.

Roma and Atalanta qualified for the Europa League semifinals and Fiorentina qualified for the Europa Conference League semi-finals in April as well. With that, the top five finishers in this season’s Serie A have qualified for next season’s expanded 36-team Champions League.

Atalanta went on to win the Europa League after facing the unbeatable Leverkusen team in the finals. Leverkusen, the clear favorites going into the final, were unable to come back against Atalanta. The Italian team stunned with a 3-0 win, ending Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak.


Chelsea has been struggling for the past two seasons. In the 2022/23 season, they finished in 12th place on the Premier League table. In the entirety of the 2023/24 season, the Blues were largely inconsistent and had a great number of poor performances. The first few months in particular were quite difficult for them. Between August and February, the Blues won only ten games, drew five and lost ten in league play.

Chelsea spent the majority of the season bouncing around mid-table, even once getting as low as 15th. However, Chelsea finished sixth, ahead of Newcastle United and Manchester United who were ahead of the Blues for most of the season. After a season out of Europe, Chelsea will be playing continental football again, having made it into the play-offs of the UEFA Conference League.

Manchester United

Later last month, it was a Manchester derby at the FA Cup final. The defending FA Cup holders and 2023/24 Premier League title winners Manchester City was expected to hoist yet another trophy. However, a poor performance from the blue side of Manchester compared to the red side led to an unexpected victory.

Alejandro Garnacho and Kobie Mainoo put United in the lead before halftime. City struggled to respond and were only good enough to score one goal with Jérémy Doku, an equaliser never to come. After beating their local rivals, Manchester United are now 13-time winners of the FA Cup. Only Arsenal have more FA Cup titles (14).

Manchester United finished eighth in the Premier League this season, out of contention for any European competitions. However, their FA Cup triumph granted them qualification to the UEFA Europa League group stage, snatching that spot from sixth-placed Chelsea.

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