European soccer leagues provide intrigue
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Barring Leicester City’s shocking Premier League title win, last season saw all the top contenders win their respective major leagues.
Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain all won their domestic leagues as expected, but they are finding it harder to dominate this time around.
Real Madrid, Barcelona’s eternal rival, is undefeated in La Liga after 13 weeks, and has moved atop of the table six points ahead of Barcelona and Sevilla.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will go head-to-head next weekend, fighting not only for the title, but also for the top goal-scorer award.
Ronaldo’s recent run of form has seen him go top with 10 goals. Meanwhile the Argentine follows with nine.
Juventus is still on the lead in the Italian Serie A, but a recent 3-1 loss to Genoa will have the reigning champions worried.
Roma and Milan have both been impressive this season, and have made sure to keep Juventus within their reach. Following their most recent wins, they are both only four points away from Juventus.
What makes this Serie A season even more interesting is the resurgence of two unexpected teams. Lazio and Atalanta both sit at 28 points, only five behind leaders Juventus and one behind Roma and Milan.
While their usual rivals are challenging Barcelona and Juventus, Bayern Munich is battling against the most unexpected contender.
RB Leipzig is playing their first ever top division season, and it looks like they might very well challenge for the title.
The Red-Bull-owned team is undefeated after 12 games, and is playing some of the best soccer in Europe. Young players, like Naby Keïta, Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg, have been nothing short of incredible so far, playing key roles in Leipzig’s wins over top teams like Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern, on the other hand, has struggled under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has not been able to bring the best out of the ridiculous amount of talent at his disposal.
Perhaps the most surprising league of all, however, is the French Ligue 1. Paris Saint-Germain’s domination reached its peak last season, as they won the league with a 31-point distance to second-placed Lyon.
This season, they find themselves in third place, one point behind Nice and tied with Monaco.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure has left the Parisians a little short in front of the goal, with Edinson Cavani being the only out-and-out striker in the team.
Nice and Monaco have both relied heavily on their youth this season, with both teams regularly fielding lineups whose average age falls below the league’s average of 25.8 years old, according to Transfermarkt. They will hope that their youngsters can keep performing, in order to mount a serious title challenge against Paris and their superstars.
While it is easy to pick out two or three title challengers for each league, the Premier League seems to have about four to six contenders for the title.
Even though last year’s winners Leicester City have spent their early weeks near the relegation zone, the really big names are all either at the top or somewhere near it.
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea is currently at the top of the table with 31 points. The Blues are on a seven-game winning streak, which started with their switch to a 3-4-3 formation.
Only one point away from them are Liverpool and Manchester City, two very different teams with the very same goal: the Premier League title. Arsenal follows in fourth place with 28 points, four more than London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and eight more than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Even though they’re still in their respective title races, don’t be surprised if last season’s champions make way for new winners all across Europe this season.