Top Footballers with Tough Luck in Big Games

Several top footballers appear to have bad luck in

A Football Report
Top Footballers with Tough Luck in Big Games

Several top footballers appear to have bad luck in big games throughout their careers.

Big games at football's top level are inevitable and any player must be prepared to perform well in them. This could make a difference in their careers, either for silverware or the opportunity to move on to greener pastures. In the competitive leagues or tournaments, such matches are even more frequent, if not consecutive at times.

Unfortunately, not all players could flourish in the big games. Some top figures with previous experience in large teams may face the same threat, failure in the moments which matter the most. It proves that to thrive in such games with huge pressure on the shoulder, a little luck is sometimes required. Here are some top players who have had tough luck in those games. Sadly, some have even been jinxed.

Romelu Lukaku

The 30-year-old Belgian international is undoubtedly one of the most prolific goal-scorers today. He has bagged more than 350 goals in his career for his clubs and country. Lukaku’s teams in his CV are outstanding too, with several big sides such as Chelsea, Manchester United, Inter Milan, and currently AS Roma. He has only won the league title with Nerazzurri and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021 with Chelsea.

Nevertheless, the former Everton frontman seems to have tough luck in big games. Such has not taken place not once or twice but almost in every decisive match, either in the international fixtures or the final.

Lukaku’s misfortune seems to have begun in the mid-2010s. He was part of Belgium’s golden generation alongside Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, and Marouane Fellaini. He helped them go through the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup after failing to do so in the previous major tournaments, the 2014 World Cup and EURO 2016. However, he did not score in big games against Brazil, France, or England in the third-place playoff. His only contribution was an assist in the quarterfinal while beating Neymar and Co. 2-1.

In his club back then, Manchester United, the Antwerp-born striker also did not succeed in the FA Cup final in 2018, losing 1-0 to his former side, Chelsea. His bad luck appeared to continue during his stint with Inter Milan. He scored a decisive own goal in the Europa League final 2020 versus Sevilla and blocked his teammate’s clear chance for an equaliser in front of the goal line in the UCL final 2023 against Manchester City.

Most recently, his bullet header only rattled the crossbar before his current side, AS Roma, conceded the first goal from Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal this season. The Belgian forward hopes to overturn his luck in the second leg at BayArena this Friday, when AS Roma tickets could be in high demand.

Marco Reus

Another example of a top name with tough luck is Marco Reus. The former German international has yet to snatch a single major title for his club, Borussia Dortmund. The only silverware in his collection are two DFB Pokals and two German Super Cups. He hopes to change his fortune this year by helping Die Borussen win UCL at Wembley. It would be a perfect redemption after their bitter loss against Bayern in the 2013 final since it was held in the same venue.

His misfortune also sticks with him in international fixtures. Reus had to miss the call-up for the Germany national team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2016, when they clinched the fourth title, due to the injury. The former Gladbach man was in form and included in the Die Mannschaft squad for the EURO 2012 and 2018 FIFA World Cup. He even scored a goal in each tournament. Yet, Germany did not progress further. They even headed to the group stage in the latter competition.

Harry Kane

When it comes to top players with tough luck, Harry Kane is sadly always included. He has yet to win a title with Spurs during his 14-year stint in North London. Kane only managed to help them advance to three finals: the EFL League Cups in 2015 and 2021, plus the Champions League in 2019.

His fate on the national team is no different. The English skipper did bring them to the EURO 2020 final, only to suffer a hurtful defeat on penalties against Italy. Kane was scoreless in the summit despite registering four goals in the knockout stage while eliminating Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark.

The frontman, who had spent five loan spells before cementing his place at Tottenham, also succeeded in leading England to a semifinal in the 2018 World Cup, but once again slumped to an unexpected loss to Croatia in the last four. He was awarded the Golden Boot with six goals, but he was scoreless in crucial matches at the knockout stage versus Sweden and Croatia, plus Belgium in the third-place playoff. His goals were only scored against Tunisia, Panama, and Colombia.

The 30-year-old prolific forward aimed to break the curse by moving to Bayern this season. Yet, misfortune seems to follow him around as Die Roten fails to defend the customary Bundesliga title for the first time since 2013, despite his impressive form this season. His only hope for silverware lies in the Champions League. Yet, many have doubts about Bayern’s chance to ease past the favourite, Real Madrid, after only mustering a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the semifinal.

Antoine Griezmann

The French midfielder is no doubt an exceptional player today. He is a World Cup winner too, as he helped Les Blues clinch their second title in Russia in 2018, where he netted four times and provided two assists in the process.

However, his fortune somehow is not the same at the club level. He has yet to win a single prestigious major title for his club, either a league title or a Champions League one. Griezmann did lift the Europa League trophy and UEFA Super Cup in 2018 for Atletico Madrid and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona in 2021.

The former Real Sociedad man had a chance to win UCL back in 2016 when he brought Los Rojiblancos to their second final under Diego Simeone in less than five years. Unfortunately, the French forward was unable to optimise his opportunity. His penalty in the final hit Real Madrid’s crossbar. Atletico Madrid eventually lost again to their local rival, just like in 2014. Yet, unlike the previous two editions, they were beaten on penalties.

Griezmann then attempted to change his luck by switching sides to Barcelona in 2019 to play alongside the great Lionel Messi. In the hope of ending his league and UCL title drought, he was stuck in a declining Blaugrana instead. Barcelona only finished second and third in La Liga during his stint in Catalonia, suffered an 8-2 humiliating loss in the UCL 2020 exit, and ultimately lost in a title race in 2021. What was even worse was that his former side, Atletico, was the one that clinched the Spanish top-flight title.