Chelsea have become the first defending champions in the Champions League era to be knocked out at the initial group stage. It's a humiliation for the Blues, but at least they know they have this lot to keep them company.
France – 1998 World Cup winners, 2002 World Cup chumps
After a glorious period in which they were crowned 1998 world and 2000 European champions, France headed into the 2002 World Cup with lofty expectations. Under the stewardship of Roger Lemerre, France boasted two of the planet's best strikers in David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry and were handed what seemed a favourable group, including Uruguay, Denmark and World Cup debutants Senegal. With star player Zinedine Zidane injured, however, it all began to unravel in spectacular fashion as Senegal stunned the champions with a 1-0 victory in the opening fixture of the tournament. Les Bleus then drew 0-0 with Uruguay and, with an unfit Zidane rushed back in a desperate attempt to salvage their campaign, lost their final game 2-0 to Denmark, finishing bottom of the group having ignominously failed to score.
Manchester City – 1937 Division One champions fail in spectacular fashion one year later
The 1936/37 season was a landmark campaign for Manchester City, as the club won their first top flight title. The brilliantly named Wilf Wild was in charge as City went on a 22-match unbeaten run to claim the title, as local rivals Man United were consigned to relegation. A year later however, it was a different story, as City suffered a shock relegation, despite being the division's highest scorers. It was an embarrassing turn of events for Wild and the club, and remains to this day the only time the reigning English champions have been relegated the following season.
Italy – 2006 World Cup winners flop at the 2010 tournament
Just like France eight years prior, Italy's 2010 World Cup defence ended in humiliation, as the defending champions crashed out at the earliest possible stage. Between 2006-2010, the Italian national side had endured a period of instability, with World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi briefly replaced by Roberto Donadoni, before returning to the role two years later. Nevertheless, Italy would have expected to dominate a group that included Paraguay, Slovakia and minnows New Zealand. However, defeat to Slovakia and two shock draws meant Italy finished bottom of their group on two points. Lippi stood down for a second time just days after the conclusion of the tournament.
Lleyton Hewitt – 2002 Wimbledon winner has a less than ace 2003 Championships
Lleyton Hewitt enjoyed arguably the finest moment of his career when he won Wimbledon in 2002. Having won the US Open a year earlier, the Australian swept to victory in SW19, capping a memorable tournament with a straight sets crushing of David Nalbandian. Fast forward 12 months and it was a different story, however, as returning champion Hewitt crashed out in the first round to qualifier Ivo Karlovic. In doing so, Hewitt became the first defending Wimbledon champion to lose in the first round in the open era (post-1968, when professionals were allowed to compete in grand slam tournaments) and only the second man in the Championships' 126-year history.
Damon Hill – 1996 F1 World Champion stalls in 1997
Damon Hill stepped out of his legendary racing driver father's shadow when the British driver won the Formula One world championship with Williams in 1996. His moment in the sun didn't last long, as Hill suddenly found himself without a drive for the 1997 season, after Williams opted to drop him for German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The world champion struggled to find a team and found himself plying his trade at F1 minnows Arrows. After a battle to make the grid for the season opener in Australia, Hill's car failed on the warm-up lap. It would be a long season for Hill, and he eventually finished the season with a paltry seven points, 74 behind champion Jacques Villeneuve.
Blackburn Rovers – 1995 Premier League champions play sixy football a year later
Blackburn Rovers' Premier League title victory in the 1994/95 season capped a remarkable rise back to the top of English football, having last won the league in 1914. The following season was a different story, though. With boss Kenny Dalglish moving upstairs in a new role as director of football, the managerial reins were handed over to assistant boss Ray Harford. An appalling start to the season saw Blackburn linger around the foot of the table and a disastrous Champions League campaign resulted in Rovers finishing bottom of their group. Harford managed to drag Rovers to a seventh-placed finished, but resigned the following October, to be replaced by Roy Hodgson.
If Chelsea fail to make the knockout stages will they be remembered as the worst European champions in history? Where should the finger of blame be pointed? Have your say by commenting below...