Five of Europe’s top leagues are approaching the climax of their seasons. In some countries, the usual suspects are in pole position, but elsewhere, we could be in for some surprises. So, who will hold their nerves as the season ends?
Let’s start by looking at the Premier League title race, where Manchester City are once again on the hunt for what would be their third successive league win. Over the last five years, their nearest competitor has been Liverpool. But this year, Arsenal have been their main competition.
Mikel Arteta played for Arsenal for five years before becoming Guardiola’s assistant coach at Manchester City. In 2019, he left Manchester City to become the first-team coach at his old club and will meet his mentor in the race to win Arsenal’s first Premier League since 2004.
The race for the title has been intense. As a result of Queen Elizabeth’s death in September 2022 and the postponement of games for this season, Arsenal and City did not play each other in the league until February, which is unusually late in the season. Pep’s side came out on top on that occasion, putting themselves ahead of Arsenal, only to lose to Nottingham Forest, allowing Arteta’s side to leapfrog them once again.
After playing one fewer game, Arsenal have a two-point lead over City. With 15 games to go, there’ll be plenty of twists and turns ahead.
Over in Spain, there is a wider gap at the top. Barcelona are five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. What’s most impressive about their season so far is their defensive record. With just seven goals conceded, that’s at least ten fewer than the next-best team. Due to their exit from the Champions League earlier in the season, Barcelona will have to play Europa League football on Thursday nights, which could affect their schedule and form.
“I think that the main favourite to win a La Liga trophy is Barcelona, not only obviously because they are leading the league but because of other different factors,” explained Manuel Terradillos, Euronews journalist.
“They have a bigger squad, and they have a squad with quality players more than the other teams, which means that they are less affected by injuries. They have Robert Lewandowski, a player who can easily average one goal per game, which means that, as some coaches say, you start every match leading 1-0.”
Over in Germany, the title race is closer than it has been for years. Bayern Munich dominates the league and have won ten consecutive titles, but the competition for their crown is sterner than ever.
Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Union Berlin are tied on points. The Union Berlin story, in particular, is very impressive. The club was only promoted from the second division of German football in 2019, and yet only four years later, they are going toe-to-toe with one of the giants of European football. At the end of February, they will face Bayern at the top of the table when they travel to Munich.
Things are as expected in France. PSG have a five-point lead over Marseille at the top of Ligue 1. However, the challengers face PSG on Sunday in a game that is a must-win for them and stop PSG from winning their fourth title in five years.
PSG would set a new record if they stayed ahead and brought the league title back to Paris again. And with players like Neymar, Mbappe, and Messi, it will be a massive challenge for Marseille to try and deny PSG another title win.
And finally, in Italy, Napoli could see itself in the history books. They are 15 points clear of Inter Milan in this season’s Scudetto. It’s been 33 years since Napoli won the Serie A title. Not since Diego Maradona has Napoli won the coveted trophy, but manager Spaletti has them on the cusp of the feat.
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So, there is plenty of exciting football to watch in Europe as another season comes to an end. There might be a shake-up in some leagues, while in others, the usual suspects will maintain their glory.