Over the years, football fans have witnessed iconic teams dominating the sport, producing unforgettable moments in the beautiful game. But just like the Roman Empire, dynasties do indeed tumble. Despite being at the pinnacle of their respective histories a decade ago, a number of former top-flight European sides have experienced a serious plight over the last ten years.
Of course, other teams have risen to the fore in their stead. Manchester City were just establishing themselves as a top team a decade ago. They were one year removed from their first-ever Premier League title, however, they would still have to wait another three years for Pep Guardiola's arrival. Since the iconic Spanish boss took charge at the Etihad however, he has led them to an unprecedented era of success, and websites that provide online betting opportunities such as Bovada expect that to continue, as they have demonstrated by making the Blues -135 favorites for another Premier League crown next term.
But we won't be focusing on the Manchester City’s of the world in this post. We shall instead focus on clubs that have taken a different course. Without further ado, here are four previous European top-flight teams that have plummeted in the last ten years.
A decade ago, Spanish outfit Málaga CF were coming off the back of their greatest-ever campaign. They had just completed their first-ever season in the UEFA Champions League, and had it not been for a last-gasp Felipe Santana strike - a goal that was clearly offside may we add - then they would have made it all the way to the semifinals. Across the course of that European campaign, they defeated the likes of AC Mila, FC Porto, and Zenit Saint-Petersburg in the process.
Their squad was one of the most talented in Europe. It featured former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and iconic current Real Betis winger Joaquin. The shining star, however, was talented young midfielder Isco, who would leave the club for Real Madrid following an impressive display at the U21 European Championships later that summer.
Unfortunately for the club's supporters, the success was fleeting. Due to financial issues brought on by the team's economic issues, Málaga was obliged to sell some of its key players, which resulted in a drop in performance and relegation from La Liga. Their sorrow was made worse last season when they were demoted to Spanish football's third division for the first time in 25 years.
FC Schalke 04
One of the largest clubs in Germany is Schalke 04. They have one of the most magnificent stadiums in European football, the cutting-edge, 62,000-seat VELTINS-Arena. They were also dominating in the UEFA Champions League ten years ago, and they even managed to defeat English powerhouse Arsenal away from home to claim the group's top spot, ahead of the Gunners, Montpellier, and Olympiacos.
However, Schalke 04's downfall started with poor transfer decisions and bad management. In recent years, they have their struggles culminated in relegation from the Bundesliga at the end of the 2020/21 season, ending their three-decade-long sting in the German top-flight era. They would secure an immediate return to the division the following campaign, however, last season, they once again suffer the indignation of relegation.
Palermo was a team that had never seen success in the top league of Italy. They did, however, enjoy a golden period in which they managed to place as high as fifth in the Serie A standings. The Sicilians appeared to have no limits because they boasted an excellent strike force in the form of Edinson Cavani and Fabrizio Miccoli. Relegation to Serie D was a terrible setback, but the team has since experienced a dramatic decline.
The reasons for this decline are numerous and complex, but one factor stands out as particularly significant - the departure of Miccoli. The Italian was a talented forward who helped Palermo secure several victories in the early 2000s. His departure from the club in 2013 marked the beginning of a downward spiral that has only recently been reversed.
Deportivo de La Coruña
The 2000s were a great period for Deportivo de La Coruña, finishing in the top four in La Liga, winning the Copa del Rey, and reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The once mighty team, however, has had to endure a tough journey in the years since.
The club has suffered a substantial downturn due to a reduction in on-field performance and rising financial difficulties. The club's inability to establish a firm financial base prevented it from investing in its team, which contributed greatly to its terrible performance in Spain's third level. The team is still struggling to recover from the financial upheaval that has hampered their progress, but fans remain optimistic about a brighter future.
Lucas Perez, a former striker, returned to the club last season and was supposedly playing for free owing to his devotion to the team. Could he be the man to propel them back up the Spanish football pyramid in the coming years?