2) Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)
The recent parallels between Sporting Lisbon and Liverpool are uncanny. After finishing an extremely disappointing seventh in 2013, the Portuguese club improved dramatically last season under a youthful manager (Leonardo Jardim) to finish runners-up to Benfica, just missing out on what would have been their 19th Primeira Liga title – and a first since 2002.
Although Sporting are firmly part of the Portuguese ‘Big Three’ along with Benfica and Porto (who have somewhat incredibly won 78 of 80 league titles between them), their success has actually been sporadic for some time, with only two titles won since 1982. Jardim has departed for AS Monaco in the summer, and been replaced with Estoril’s Marco Silva as they look to go one better this season.