La Liga, Bundesliga, Super Lig, And The Eredivisie: What Is Left To Play For In Europe’s Top Leagues?
The Sportsman takes a look at the major football leagues around Europe as they approach the final stretch of their respective seasons. Titles have already been secured but there are riveting races aplenty with everything to play for. Check out the breakdown below.
La Liga (Spain)
Barcelona are on course for their third continental treble in a decade, hoping to follow up their 2009 and 2015 successes, when they became the first club in European club to accomplish the feat on two occasions. With almost double the goal difference of nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, three more points (after 34 games, 80 points to Los Rojiblancos’ 71) should do it for Ernesto Valverde’s side and bring back their eighth title of the past decade.
Premier League (England)
Both Manchester City and Liverpool have been relentless, neither side suffering defeat in the league since January and the race will go down to the wire. Just a point currently separates the two - with Pep Guardiola’s side just ahead - with three games to go.
Ligue 1 (France)
Was the season over before it even began? Paris Saint-Germain continued exactly where they left off from the last campaign, charging to their second successive title and their seventh in eight seasons.
Thomas Tuchel and Les Parisiens seemingly trolled the rest of the league when the destination of the Ligue 1 championship was more inevitable than ever, going through a period of three games without a victory. In rather unglamourous fashion, it was left up to second-place Lille to play out a goalless draw against Toulouse and definitely hand PSG the championship in Gameweek 33. With their last five games, the only target left for Les Parisiens is to net a century of goals (they’re currently on 95).
Serie A (Italy)
It’s all in the bag for Juventus and their summer signing Cristiano Ronaldo, who became the first player to win major titles in Europe’s big three leagues; England, Spain, and now Italy after the latest Scudetto for the dominant Bianconeri. A 2-1 win over Fiorentina - like PSG in Gameweek 33 - secured the title, having gone an eye-watering 20 points clear of Napoli.
Four games left to go and there’s a real title chase in Germany. Borussia Dortmund suffered humiliation to Bayern Munich at the beginning of April to put the Bavarians firmly in the hotseat for the title, leapfrogging Dortmund with an excruciating 5-0 trouncing at the Allianz Arena.
Munich are now one point ahead, with manager Lucien Favre looking to continue their run of six straight titles, in his first season. It’s mathematically possible for RB Leipzig to also win, though they would need a complete capitulation for both aforementioned sides.
Primeira Liga (Portugal)
There’s another neck-and-neck battle over in Portugal. Since 2003, the title has gone to either Benfica and Porto and it’s pretty much the same again as the two clubs lie on the same number of points (75), in first and second, respectively. Porto broke Benfica’s four-season run last year, and will go within one of 30 championships with success this year, though they have third-place Sporting CP in the final game of the season. There are currently just four games remaining.
Ajax have a new legion of fans after their Champions League heroics, with their aesthetically pleasing play under Erik ten Hag seeing off behemoths Real Madrid and Juventus on the path to the semi-finals. Domestically, they’re still battling on two fronts - there’s the KNVB Cup final against Willem II on May 5 - but things are tricky in the league. Rivals PSV Eindhoven are keeping pace, with both sides at the top on the same number of points (80) after 32 games. Ajax have the slight advantage with a superior goal difference (+81 to +71). Two games remain. Ajax could win everything. Worryingly, they could also be left completely empty-handed.
Super Lig (Turkey)
If you’re sick of the talk around Europe’s major leagues, particularly at certain processions, look a bit further East to Turkey, where Istanbul Basaksehir currently top the table . Losing an Istanbul derby to third-place Beskitas in mid-April means that Basaksehir, the defeat intersecting in a run of two draws and just one win in their last four games before playing Goztepe, are in for a nervy time in their quest for their first ever silverware. Though they still top the table, Galatasary aren’t too far behind, ready to pounce on any slip-up, with Besiktas also creeping up after going on a brilliant 12-game unbeaten run.