Everybody loves a Cinderella story. Be it Leicester City in the Premier League or Croatia in the World Cup, having a team come from out of nowhere to turn a competition on its heads creates memories that last for years. For many years to come, Leicester and Croatia will be looked at as two teams that surpassed expectations and any other Cinderella will be compared to them.
It's unlikely we will see anything similar to those two at any point soon, but surprises in the sport are always exciting and end up becoming must-watch TV. In light of that, let's take a look at the three teams that have surprised the most in European soccer to start the season:
Watford: Currently in sixth place in the Premier League with 13 points and now out of the EFL Cup, don't overlook how elimination from that competition could help this team focus more on league play. And the key has been possessing the ball, which in turn has helped this team defensively. In seven league games, the team has allowed eight goals. What's even more impressive, this team is where it is having already played Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal. With games against Bournemouth, Wolves, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Southampton, there are some massive chances to gain some points in the coming weeks.
Sassuolo: Similarly to Watford, it's impressive to see this team where it is considering the competition it has played. The club is in fifth place in Serie A with 13 points through seven games, having already played AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan. Napoli is next, and chances are this team will slip, but it has been able to consistently create chances in front of goal to give itself a chance. And remember Kevin-Prince Boateng? He has revived his career with the club with four goals in six games.
Saint-Etienne: A hot start with four wins and three draws in its first eight games, the club is in fourth place in Ligue 1 and just a point off of first place. Saint-Etienne just dominated Monaco and has a huge game with Lille next Saturday. And the key has been the signing of Wahbi Khazri. The Tunisian international struggled a bit at Sunderland, but the talent was there, and he showed it at Rennes on loan last season. Saint-Etienne scoops him up, and he's got four goals in recent weeks, scoring both against Monaco. He's an attacking midfielder/winger who can change a team's attack, and he's done just that.
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|Undefeated and starting to gel with Cristiano Ronaldo. The Champions League favorite at the moment?|
|Didn't win this past week, but it was always going to be a challenge against Chelsea. Daniel Sturridge's form only makes this team stronger.|
Bayern Munich (GER)
|Not a fun week with a draw and a loss in league play. Could this be Dortmund's season in the Bundesliga? Not likely.|
|Undefeated in league play and already they have an eight-point lead. Dare we say Ligue 1 is almost over?|
Manchester City (ENG)
|Back into first place in the Premier League. Too much has been made of the draw vs. Wolves and loss to Lyon.|
|A bad week just like Bayern. Not starting Lionel Messi at home can lead to draw like we just saw. But he'll be rested for Tottenham, at least.|
|Consistent and looking strong ahead of the Barcelona showdown. They beat Real Madrid last season, so why can't they do the same here vs. Barca?|
|This team's stock is growing and Eden Hazard is putting himself up there among the world's top five players. Fantastic form and only getting better.|
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
|Strong defense and grinding out results, as usual. With Barca slipping, Atleti is a threat to win La Liga.|
|Don't look now, but the Gunners are flying high under Unai Emery. The attack has looked dangerous and finally this team looks like a top-four contender.|
Real Madrid (ESP)
|Getting crushed by Sevilla has to make them fall. What in the world was that? The defense had been looking strong.|
|Hard to swallow that lost at Juventus, especially after going up early. The gap between them and Juve is still massive.|
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
|Christian Pulisic continues to deliver and Paco Alcacer's loan move has paid off quickly. BVB is in first place in the Bundesliga, but can they stay there?|
Inter Milan (ITA)
|Lautaro Martinez got his first goal for the club and now they are on a little bit of a run, but this team probably isn't good enough to win Serie A.|
|Bounced back from some bad results to win their last two, including beating rival Lazio on Saturday 3-1. That's a win that will give them momentum.|
|Sevilla jumps into the rankings because of four straight wins where it averaged four goals per game. No way it can keep this up, though, especially with some tough matches to come against Celta and Barca.|
Boca Juniors (ARG)
|Crashed out of Copa Argentina but playing lots of bench players but got back to its winning ways in the league on Sunday night. Big one with Cruzeiro next.|
|Five-point lead in the Eredivisie with a wild plus-23 goal differential in just seven games. The class of the Netherlands once again.|
|This team is rolling under Eduardo Coudet. They may be out of the Copa Libertadores, but La Academia has built a five-point lead atop the Argentine first division table.|
|Out of the Copa do Brasil but flying high in the Copa Libertadores and now in first place in the league. They've won five of six in the league and are ahead of Internacional on goal differential.|
Santos Laguna (MEX)
|Good little run in Liga MX and currently sit in third. 1-0 win over Necaxa will help this team's confidence.|
|Massive late win at Fluminense thanks to Everton's wild heel-flick goal. Top four in the league now and on its way to the Copa Libertadores semifinals, it seems.|
Cruz Azul (MEX)
|Struggled against Pachuca and have lost two of three after an undefeated start. Still in first place though in Liga MX, but the defense had an off night.|
River Plate (ARG)
|This team hasn't lost since February, and the draws have turned into wins. Back into top four and the favorite to get by Independiente on Tuesday.|
|Haven't won since Sept. 2, losing three times and drawing one. Back to life, back to reality.|
Biggest movers: Watford (-7), Arsenal (+3).
Teams knocked out of the top 25 this week: Manchester United, Internacional, Sao Paulo.
Honorable mentions: Real Betis (ESP), Leicester City (ENG), Lille (FRA), Hertha Berlin (GER).