In this unprecedented European soccer season, one where we had to have a six-week break for the World Cup, there is still a lot to play for when it comes to league titles. Indeed, the break for the World Cup has discombobulated some fans, as we are a little bit behind schedule compared to a standard league season. Right now, most of the top European leagues have just reached the halfway point of the season. There’s plenty to play for, yes, but we are starting to see the narrative of the title races shaping up.
But which competitions have the most exciting title races? And which teams are in pole position? Let’s dive in for a look at the state of affairs in football as we approach the business end of the season:
Probably the best place to start is with the Premier League. It’s been a surprising season so far, with most pundits and fans being caught off guard by the supreme form of Arsenal. The Gunners are now favorites for the title, although, as we said, there are many games to play. Manchester City are looming ominously behind Arsenal, and there is an outside chance that Manchester United could still enter the fray. Just as surprising as Arsenal’s resurgence is the decline in the fortunes of both Chelsea and Liverpool. Even a Top 4 place looks a difficult ask. But conceivably, we have two to three clubs in the title race, and as many as eight going for the Top 4. There will be plenty of drama to conclude the campaign, as is always the case in the Premier League.
Spain looks like having another El Clasico title race
In Spain, we have seen plenty of tight matches and late drama, although it seems that, once again, we are going to see the two great rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid, duke it out for the title. The pair meet on 19th March for El Clasico, and this might be a good opportunity for live betting as it could be a title decider, with momentum swinging either way during the match at the Nou Camp. The story of the season so far has been Barcelona’s incredible defensive prowess, with just six goals conceded by the Catalans in the league this season. Three of those goals were conceded against Real Madrid in October, which is to date Barcelona’s only defeat in the league. Three points separate the clubs at the time of writing.
Germany has one of its most interesting title races in years. The conventional wisdom says that table-toppers Bayern Munich will go on to win the Bundesliga. And in truth, the Bavarians probably will win an 11th consecutive title. However, Bayern can’t just seem to shake off the plucky upstarts, Union Berlin, with just three points separating the pair at the halfway point of the season. Make no mistake about it: there has been no greater surprise package than Union in any of Europe’s top five leagues this season. Could they pull of a remarkable title win like Leicester in 2016?
Lens give PSG nightmares
In France, like Germany, we are used to seeing PSG stroll to the title. In fact, such is the lack of competition – a few blips aside – offered to PSG that winning Ligue 1 becomes almost a tedious exercise for the fans, and the barest of minimums for the owners, who want the Champions League above all else. Like Bayern, PSG have a three-point advantage and should win the title. But also like Bayern, PSG faces an upstart in Lens who could upset the odds. Marseille, too, have been in excellent form, and they may have something to say this season.
Finally, Serie A, where, barring disaster, Napoli will be crowned champions. The club has a 12-point lead at the top of the table. But perhaps more importantly, they are ultra-consistent, whereas rivals like Inter Milan and AC Milan have been stuttering. Maybe the most interesting thing to watch is whether Juventus can overcome a 15-point deduction to enter the Top 4 race. The Old Lady has a mountain to climb, but they would actually have been second had the penalty not been applied for financial impropriety.