The season is barely a month old, but we’ve already experienced some shocks that will last a lifetime in the memories of the minnows.
Not even Lionel Messi could stage a comeback off the bench at the 19,000-capacity Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes, where Granada were fully worthy of victory over a football monolith that dwarfs the Andalusian club in almost every way.
Top of that list is the financial disparity – and it is quite staggering. So below, we’ve picked out five of the most jaw-dropping upsets so far this campaign and weighed up the total cost in transfers it took to assemble each team against each other.
Granada 2-0 Barcelona, 21/09/2019
€8m v €697m
If Ernesto Valverde was already walking a tightrope before arriving in Andalusia, that rope now resembles a piece of dental floss.
Antoine Griezmann alone, at €120m (though Atletico say €200m) cost 15 times the amount that Granada have invested in transfers for their entire squad.
The Frenchman did the square root of nothing on Saturday while Darwin Machis, their most costly summer signing at €3m from Udinese, danced rings around the Barca defence on the opposite wing.
Goalscorers Ramon Azeez and Alvaro Vadillo were both free agent signings and the €697m Barca have invested of course does not include homegrown Lionel Messi, who would cost a fantasy figure.
You know what else €8m buys you? Top spot in La Liga (at least overnight on Saturday).
Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid, August 24 2019
€902m v €15m
On to another humbled Spanish giant, in their backyard of the Bernabeu. This match did not end in defeat for Real Madrid but its deflating effect was virtually the same – and it’s only got worse for Zinedine Zidane since then.
Valladolid, who are part-owned by the Brazilian Ronaldo, secured a point via Guardiola – Sergi Guardiola, that is – at the death after Karim Benzema had thought he’d won it.
Guardiola set back Valladolid €3m from Cordoba at the start of the year, which represents 20 per cent of their entire investment in transfers. Real, on the other hand, spent some €250m alone in the window just gone.
None of their new signings were in the starting XI that night, but no one should be making excuses for their near-billion squad splurge.
Rennes 2-1 PSG, August 18 2019
€106m v €913m
PSG are perennial French champions and a defeat to Rennes won’t change that this season, either. Yet it always beggars belief when a team that can cherry-pick the best talent in France, and virtually anywhere in the world, succumbs to such a limp defeat.
Rennes are something of a bogey team for the Parisians, having lost the French Cup final on penalties to them in 2018/19. They were at it again last month – and this was before Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani ended up in the treatment room.
While not quite operating on the slimline budget of a Granada or Valladolid at €106m, Rennes turned the money they received from Watford for Ismaila Sarr into results – namely former Torino attacker M’Baye Niang (€15m), who scored the sublime equaliser in Brittany.
In comparison, PSG’s starting front three – Cavani, Mbappe and Angel Di Maria – stacked up €262m worth of transfer fees.
Union Berlin 3-1 Borussia Dortmund, August 31 2019
€14m v €324m
The first club from the former East Berlin to play in the Bundesliga put a spoke in the wheel of Borussia Dortmund’s designs on the Bundesliga before August was out.
Dortmund spent €20m or more on five separate players over the summer – Mats Hummels, Nico Schulz, Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Paco Alcacer – to boost an already high-octane team that includes Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus. However, they simply combusted in the German capital.
Union’s expense for their squad? Just €14m, including the €400k loan fee it took to whisk two-goal Marius Bulter away from third division Magdeburg. The rest of their summer business, having brought in 14 players in total, were a motley crew of free agents and frugal purchases not costing more than €2m a piece.
The result was that their first-ever Bundesliga triumph came against a juggernaut like Dortmund, in a 3-1 win.
Man United 1-2 Crystal Palace, August 24 2019
€751m v €208m
It’s a stretch to call Crystal Palace paupers in the cash-soaked Premier League. Indeed, the TV deal by itself accounts for a minimum of €100m.
Compared to the sheer (financial might) of Manchester United, however, who have bought and dispensed with many expensive mistakes in the post-Ferguson era, Palace rightly celebrated bridging that chasm at Old Trafford.
Though Palace’s squad cost €208m to assemble, their three most expensive signings – Christian Benteke, Mamadou Sakho and Andros Townsend – weren’t even in the team.
Instead €2.5m man Jordan Ayew provided the impetus up top and a €10.5m full-back in Patrick van Aanholt to apply the coup de grace in a 2-1 victory. Not even the combined €135m transactions in defence on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could save United …
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