Top 10: Europe's best teams at holding onto winning positions


The ability to manage a game once you have taken the lead can be difference between winning a title or falling short and securing survival or being condemned to relegation. It’s something that some pride themselves on, with Jose Mourinho perhaps the most famous example of a manager that has been more than willing to shut up shop over the years.

When looking at teams that have sacrificed the most points from winning positions in Europe this season, it’s no surprise to see a number of teams that find themselves in relegation battles at the top of the list. Palermo lead the way and having picked up just 11 points all season look destined for the drop from Serie A, but it could have been so different if they could just protect a lead. Having dropped a whopping 20 points when they have led games this season, they could have been in with a fight if they improved their game management.

The same could be said of La Liga duo Valencia and Deportivo, who have both pulled six points clear of the drop zone but could so easily have been sitting far more comfortably, having dropped 19 and 18 points respectively. Elsewhere, Hoffenheim are perhaps the most interesting team at the top of the list having been the final team to lose their unbeaten record last week. They’ve drawn 10 matches this season and generally led in said games having dropped 15 points, meaning they could quite conceivably have had a shot at the title were it not for their inability to see out matches.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of teams that have proven near impossible to break down once they’ve gone into the lead by comparison, with a rundown of the top 10 as follows;

Lille - 3 points dropped

It’s fair to say it’s been a hit and miss season for Lille, who began the season in terrible form but have since lost just one of their last 9 matches under new manager Patrick Collot. Of 22 games in Ligue 1, LOSC have been ahead at one stage another eight times and gone on to win each of the last seven that they have taken the lead. Indeed, they last dropped points from a winning position on the opening day against Metz, twice going ahead only to lose 3-2.

Inter - 3 points dropped

Like Lille, Inter have enjoyed a real upturn in results following a change of manager, with the Nerazzurri establishing themselves as a force in Serie A once again under Stefano Pioli. The Milan giants have taken the lead in 14 league matches this season, winning on all eight occasions that they have done so under their new boss. The only match that they dropped points from a winning position was back in October having taken the lead against Cagliari only to lose 2-1.

Juventus - 3 points dropped

Arguably the most impressive record here given that Serie A leaders Juventus have taken the lead in 17 games and won all but one, the Old Lady may not have been quite so dominant this season but are still incredibly difficult to catch once they’ve gone ahead. The only team to manage it this season was Inter, who will be aiming to do the double against Allegri’s men this Sunday having overturned a Lichtsteiner opener in the reverse fixture to win 2-1.

Augsburg - 2 points dropped

The fact that Augsburg feature here is more indicative of their struggles on the whole this season than any great resolve but it is still impressive that they haven’t lost any of the six matches in which they have led. Indeed, the only team to take a single point from a losing position against the Fuggerstadter this season are Dortmund, who did so just ahead of the winterpause.

Nancy - 2 points dropped

It’s clear just how Nancy will avoid the drop if they do manage to resist sliding back into Ligue 2 at the first time of asking. Just two points separate last season’s second tier winners and the drop zone, but Pablo Correa’s side can rely upon a strong defence to ensure they have a great chance of survival. While they may only have led in 7 games this season they’ve dropped points just once - vs Toulouse - and boast the best defensive record outside the top 5 (25 conceded).

Toulouse - 2 points dropped

After an excellent start to the season Toulouse’s form has dipped badly due to an inability to get their noses in front in matches. Indeed, when TFC have taken the lead they’ve been superb at holding onto their advantage, doing so in seven of eight matches. Nantes, back in November, are the only team to have salvaged a point from a losing position against Pascal Dupraz’s men but they haven’t even managed a single goal in their last four league outings.


Top 10: Europe's best teams at holding onto winning positions


Borussia Dortmund - 2 points dropped

It’s been a disappointing season for Thomas Tuchel’s side, of that there is no doubt, as they find themselves in a real scrap for a Champions League finish rather than the title. Fourteen points adrift of Bayern, the Schwarzgelben have often struggled to break teams down in the early exchanges, having only taken the lead in half of their 18 matches. When they have done so, they’ve generally seen out games with ease, with their last outing against Mainz the only occasion that they have lost points from a winning position.

Saint-Etienne - 2 points dropped

With an identical record to Dortmund in terms of matches that they have led, Sainte have won 8 of 9 when they have managed to go in front at one stage or another. Christophe Galtier’s side have been hard to beat in general, losing just five games, and are particularly strong at holding onto winning positions, only failing to do so in the first game back from the winter break against Lille.

Lazio - 2 points dropped

It’s been a superb season for Simone Inzaghi’s men, who began the campaign in a state of confusion after Marcelo Bielsa stepped down within days of his appointment. The former Biancocelesti striker has had a real impact on the side this season though, seeing them take the lead in 13 of 22 matches and hold onto it in all but one. That was a 2-2 draw at Torino back in October, having actually fallen behind in that game before taking the lead. A 92nd minute penalty enabled the hosts to share the spoils but in general when Lazio score they get a positive result having failed to find the net in all six of their league defeats.

Leicester - 0 points dropped

It’s far from the most impressive record here given that reigning Premier League champions Leicester have led in just five matches all season but the Foxes are the only team that hasn’t dropped a single point when going ahead in a game in Europe’s top 5 leagues. It’s a quality that enabled them to see out their shock title pursuit with room to spare in the second half of last season but a misfiring front line has meant they’ve been unable to exhibit it anywhere near as regularly as they would have liked.

Top 10: Europe's best teams at holding onto winning positions