The state of affairs as Europe’s top five leagues prepare to return | Popgen Tech


After Lionel Messi’s Argentina lifted the World Cup trophy in Qatar, attention returns to club football with all major competitions set to resume in the coming weeks.

The Premier League is first, with all 20 teams in action on either December 26, 27 or 28 (AEDT), while Ligue 1 and LaLiga are back in action in the following days.

You will have to wait until the new year for Serie A to resume, before the Bundesliga resumes with Bayern Munich’s visit to RB Leipzig on January 21 (AEDT).

It’s been a while since Europe’s elite took a break for the World Cup, so Stats Perform offers a refresher on how things were before the break.


Title race

In the Bundesliga, Bayern have won six games in a row before the World Cup, a much-needed run as they have won just one of their previous six.

That upturn in form has built a four-point margin at the top, but the loss of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to a broken ankle suffered in a skiing accident could be a major setback.

However, it is reasonable to expect Bayern to have enough quality to see off the challenges of the likes of Freiburg and Leipzig and earn an 11th consecutive top-flight title.

Champions League places

Borussia Dortmund will face Chelsea in the Champions League round of 16 but have a lot of work to do to qualify for next year’s competition after a disappointing start in the Bundesliga

It sits sixth and is playing catch-up, with Eintracht Frankfurt and Union Berlin also ahead of it.

It should be an exciting race for the top four places with ninth-placed Werder Bremen just six points off the Champions League places, while seventh-placed Wolfsburg are a team to watch with nine unbeaten ahead of the World Cup Tournament.

Relegation battle

Schalke have won just twice at the foot of the league this season and could face an immediate drop to the second tier.

Stuttgart occupy the relegation play-off spot and have called on former head coach Bruno Labbadia as they fight to stay up, while Bochum are sandwiched between Stuttgart and Schalke.

Of the teams just outside the drop zone, Xavi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen have won their last three games before the break and appear to have moved away from trouble, while Augsburg, on the other hand, have failed to win any of their last seven.


Title race

It’s looking like a two-horse race in LaLiga as giants Barcelona and Real Madrid look set for an epic title battle.

Barcelona edge Madrid by two points, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side came out on top when the sides met in October.

The next El Clasico will take place at the Camp Nou in March and could have huge implications for who lifts the trophy at the end of the season.

Champions League places

With Barcelona and Madrid straddling the top of LaLiga, Basque teams Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao are the teams occupying the other Champions League spots.

Athletic are one of three teams with 24 points, while ninth-placed Villarreal are just three points behind their Champions League heroics last season.

Osasuna and Rayo Vallecano are two teams not expected to be in the race for the top four, but sit seventh and eighth respectively and are well within striking distance.

Relegation battle

Sevilla’s six-time Europa League winners are in deep trouble, with two wins in 14 matches putting them in the relegation zone.

It has yet to win at home and head coach Julen Lopetegui has been relieved of his duties following the club’s Champions League exit.

Sevilla are only kept off the bottom by Cadiz and Elche, with the latter yet to win a league game this season and picking up just four points before the World Cup break.

Big performances will be needed from World Cup heroes such as Argentina’s Marcos Acuna and Morocco’s Youssef En-Nesyri and Yassine Bounou if Sevilla are to secure their status in the top flight.


Title race

Leaders Paris Saint-Germain are on course to collect a ninth league title in just 11 years if they see the job through.

PSG’s players played at the World Cup with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe clashing in a brilliant final and return to club football with the hope of working together to finally win the Parisian club’s first Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino’s failure to win European football’s top prize last season cost him his job, despite winning Ligue 1 at a gallop, and Christophe Galtier will know the same fate could befall him as PSG in the round of 16 by Bayern, with the first leg to be played in mid-February.

PSG’s domestic challengers include Lens and Rennes, but they face a real challenge if they are to close the five-point gap on Galtier’s side, who are unbeaten and have the division’s best attack and meanest defence.

Champions League places

While Lens and Rennes may not be able to catch PSG at the pinnacle of Ligue 1, they will certainly fancy their chances of staying in the top three.

With fourth place in Ligue 1 just enough to earn a place in the Europa League, Marseille will aim to oust one of the above teams and contend in Europe’s premier club competition.

Lorient have finished 16th in the past two campaigns but have made an excellent start to fifth, ahead of perennial European contenders Monaco, Lille and Lyon.

Relegation battle

Wide open with the reduction of France’s top tier to 18 teams which means four teams will be relegated this season.

There are just six points between 11th-placed Reims and second-bottom Strasbourg, the latter of whom narrowly missed out on the European qualification places last term.

Angers prop up the league on eight points and their survival chances could take a significant hit if they lose midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, who is believed to be wanted by Barcelona after his excellent performances for Morocco at the World Cup.


Title race

Arsenal have a five-point lead at the top but Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will fancy their chances of retaining the title and have a rested Erling Haaland itching to get goals back.

Haaland has been a revelation since joining Borussia Dortmund, scoring 18 times in 13 games, although City’s quest for a fifth title in six years has been hampered by defeats to Liverpool and Brentford.

With the Norwegian striker fresh and Arsenal striker Gabriel Jesus out for three months with a knee injury picked up during the World Cup, Mikel Arteta’s Gunners will be tested in 2023.

Champions League places

Newcastle United have been one of the stories of the Premier League season, with a run of five consecutive victories under Eddie Howe lifting the Magpies to third.

There is still a long way to go but Newcastle are in a prime position to finish in the top four of the Premier League for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign under Bobby Robson.

Tottenham currently occupy fourth position with Manchester United just three points behind in fifth, while Liverpool’s poor start leaves them 15 points clear of Arsenal.

Surprise package Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea are both on 21 points, but a solid run of form could put the pressure on those above.

Relegation battle

It could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for Lopetegui, having been appointed Wolves manager in November, with the Midlands club bottom of the Premier League at Christmas.

Only two teams in this position have avoided relegation in the past.

A source of comfort for Wolves fans will be just how many teams are in danger of relegation, with Bournemouth in 14th just six points above the bottom.

Everton and Leeds United are once again struggling after falling short last season, while 2021-22 Europa League semi-finalists West Ham United are just a point above Nottingham Forest, who are in the bottom three after a difficult start to their first season quarterback. in the Premier League after an exile of 23 years.


Title race

After an incredible start, Napoli have an eight-point lead at the Serie A summit, the biggest among the top five leagues.

It has achieved this in impressive fashion but has yet to lose a league game this season and boasts the most potent attack with 37 goals in 15 games, led by the division’s top scorer Victor Osimhen (nine goals) and new star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (11 goals involved ), both of whom should be fresh after not playing in the World Cup.

Just three points separate second-placed Milan and fifth-placed Inter among the chasing pack, but Napoli could soon be out of sight if they can continue their incredible early-season form.

Champions League places

Just six points separate second and seventh as teams desperately scramble to keep Napoli in sight.

Inter are out of the top four on goal difference, while Juventus are third despite Massimiliano Allegri coming under pressure during a mixed start.

Italian champions Milan are second and Lazio fourth, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma are seventh.

Relegation battle

The three teams in the relegation zone have yet to reach double figures for points with Spezia, who are placed 17th, six points above the drop zone.

Cremonese, Sampdoria and Hellas Verona in 18th, 19th and 20th respectively have combined for two wins from 45 games.

While the likes of Spezia, Lecce and Sassuolo may be looking over their shoulders, they can remain fairly confident of playing Serie A football next season if the bottom three keep up their terrible form.


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