Football Features

The hipster clubs you need to go back and watch this season

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 12:05, 16 April 2019

Everyone loves big names in football, but there are many hipster clubs who deserve passion too.

Across Europe there are so many clubs who don’t have the massive profile that some of the game’s current elite sides do, but they are equally or perhaps even more fascinating to watch. The label “hipster” can be off-putting, but just consider them as lesser-known clubs that are fun.

After all, if we’re not into having fun then why are we watching this sport in the first place? These sides are fantastically good fun and entertaining to watch even though they may never dominate their divisions and compete for the very top trophies.

Ajax

Eredivisie – 1st – 106 goals

Obviously any side that is potentially one game away from the Champions League semi-final wouldn’t normally be described as hipster, but this is Ajax we’re talking about here. The Dutch side are back in the Champions League for the first time in forever and have taken the tournament by storm, ending Real Madrid’s three-year reign as European Champions.

Ajax are the first side in Europe this season to score 150 goals in all competitions and should be watched whatever the cost, before they get picked apart in the transfer market this summer.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek… there is so much incredible young talent on display that you almost forget Dusan Tadic has a goal-involvement of over 50. 50! Watch Ajax. They’re incredible.

Atalanta

Serie A – 6th – 64 goals

Atalanta first emerged onto everyone’s radar a few seasons ago and have inexplicably stuck around to be even more fun now. Gian Piero Gasperini has transformed them into such a fun side to watch.

Alejandro Gomez is now 31-years-old but appears to have gone to the Antonio Di Natale school of ageing because he’s only getting more rounded in his influence. Dries Mertens is the only player who can top his 9 assists and his creative wizardry has gotten Duvan Zapata to a career-high 20 league goals, more than all but two men this season.

Atalanta are named after a hero from Greek mythology and wear a delightful blue and black kit. What’s not to love?

Lille

Ligue 1 – 2nd – 54 goals

In terms of achievements by hipster clubs it’d be hard to top beating Real Madrid, but Lille can run Ajax close as they have absolutely belted the life out of PSG, smashing the Parisians 5-1 in Ligue 1 to deny them their title coronation and probably cost Thomas Tuchel his job.

That should honestly be enough but if it isn’t, then just look at who Lille have in their side. They brought José Fonte back from China, they have Santos’ Brazilian wonderkid Thiago Maia, Chelsea-reject Loic Remy up-front (sometimes) and on the right is their superstar; Nicolas Pepe. The long-legged Ivorian is a sensational double-threat, as capable of scoring goals as well as creating them.

Floating in from the right-flank, Pepe adds a genuine menace to Lille and will be the subject of an enormous transfer bid this summer, the only question is where he ends up next. Could it be another Lille-to-Chelsea transfer in the mould of Eden Hazard?

Sampdoria

Serie A – 9th – 53 goals

Fabio Quagliarella has always been a scorer of great goals, rather than a great goalscorer. But his move to Sampdoria has energised him in a way he hasn’t ever been in his career.

He’s currently top scorer in Serie A with 22 goals despite being 36-years-old. Quagliarella’s genius makes Samp unmissable, because you just never know when he’s going to bust out one of his trademark miracle goals.

He wears the captains armband and leads from the front, but is ably supported by an interesting cast of players including the cult figure Gaston Ramirez who has refound his voice out in Genoa.

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Eintracht Frankfurt

Bundesliga – 4th – 57 goals

The team that twice made the German cup final, winning the second time against Bayern Munich, is definitely worth your attention.

They play fast and hard and with Croatia’s World Cup sensation Ante Rebic flying forward in attack and the line being led by the hottest young striker in Europe, Luka Jovic, they can be so deadly.

You just can’t count them out because they can find the back of the net so well. Filip Kostic and big target man Sebastien Haller are unlikely creative fulcrums for a side that can score from almost any situation.

They have the sixth-highest number of right-footed goals, the fourth-most left-footed goals and the joint-second most headed goals. Only one other side places in the top six for each goal type and that’s Bayern Munich.

Benfica

Liga NOS – 1st – 81 goals

A bit like Ajax, it may seem a bit odd to call Benfica hipster, but relative to the footballing elite of today, Benfica are a sort of niche commodity. They shouldn’t be, they’re Benfica, but that’s the reality of it.

Still, this side is a delight to watch and has some of the most special young talent anywhere in Europe. Few clubs can boast prodigies as potent as Alex Grimaldo and Joao Felix, but Benfica not only have them both but also feature Gedson Fernandes and Portuguese powerhouse Ruben Dias.

This is a team of who’s who and you should watch them together whilst you can because it’d be a miracle of they were all at the Estadio da Luz next season.

Getafe

La Liga – 5th – 40 goals

Getafe used to be such a nothing club. The fourth-best team in Madrid, and certainly the least interesting. But under manager José Bordolas, they’ve become something of a mini-Atlético Madrid.

A rugged defensive powerhouse of a side who can be horrible to play against. They’re a unique kind of hipster club because they don’t play a proactive style, but they’re still such a fascinating watch.

Djéné is consistently one of the best defenders in La Liga, especially in 1v1 situations. Then there’s Jaime Mata, the journeyman striker who’s had such a good season that he deservedly got a call-up to the Spanish national side and made his debut! Oh, and for the ultimate hipster cred, they have two ex-Arsenal boys on the books in Ignasi Miquel and the legendary Mathieu Flamini.

Norwich

Championship- 1st – 85 goals

Yes, it’s England but whilst everyone and their mum is going gaga over Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, Daniel Farke’s Norwich City are possibly even more fascinating to watch. They’ve outscored Leeds by a comfortable margin, leading the way amongst all clubs in the division with 86 goals.

Farke has transformed Teemu Pukki into a marksman of terrifying capacity, the Finn has 27 league goals this season which is his best-ever tally by some margin. There’s young talent on the field too, with the likes of Max Aarons at right-back and Emiliano Buendia on the right.

They even have Moritz Leitner, once of Borussia Dortmund, running the show in midfield. They’re a must-watch now in their pure form before promotion to the Premier League brings with it either pragmatism or failure, neither of which is nice.

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