Herculean effort earns universal praise

The big five leagues in Europe are all under way now, and there have been surprises aplenty already. While some of the big guns have got off to stuttering starts, a few unheralded sides have already pulled off shock early-season victories. According to the latest FIFA.com poll, newly-promoted Spanish first division outfit Hercules are the team to have caused the biggest upset thus far.

Alicante on everyone’s lips
An amazing 53.87% of all votes from users on the official FIFA website went to the team coached by Esteban Vigo as the surprise package of the start of the European season. In truth, that should come as little surprise, given the side from Alicante defeated the mighty Barcelona 2-0 away from home in the second match of the La Liga season. Hercules topped the poll ahead of Blackpool from England (17.87%), Hoffenheim of Germany (17%), Italy’s Chievo Verona (5.69%) and Toulouse of France (5.57%).

Hercules came top in five of the six FIFA.com languages, with David Trezeguet, Nelson Valdez and co. securing an amazing 70.9% of the vote on the Spanish channel. Only the German version of the site saw them finish second, just behind Hoffenheim.

Mainz on a roll
Things can change quickly in football however, as all five of the teams in last week’s poll found to their cost this weekend. Not one of them recorded a win, with only Toulouse and Hoffenheim managing draws which still saw them both knocked off top spot of their respective leagues.

That said, in Italy, France and Germany, unfancied clubs currently find themselves in an unaccustomed spot at the top of the table. Newly-promoted Cesena are leading Serie A after two wins and a draw, grand old French club Saint-Etienne head Ligue 1 with 13 points from six games, and Mainz are sitting pretty in the Bundesliga after wins in each of their opening four matches. "The league table means nothing at the moment, it’s just something that’s nice to look at for our fans," said Thomas Tuchel, the 37-year-old coach of the surprise German leaders.