As the season approaches the halfway point in European soccer, I look at the current standings to see who’s leading the way. There are some expected leaders with some European giants leading in their respective leagues. However, there are also some surprise packages and we look at whether they can hold on for an unexpected title.
England, Premier League:
1 – Manchester City – 41 Points
2 – Manchester United – 40 Points
3 – Leicester City – 38 Points
4 – Liverpool – 37 Points
Firstly, let’s look at arguably the most exciting and evenly contested league in European soccer. The Premier League is known to be unpredictable and this season is no different. In fact, there are currently just 12 points between the teams in 1st and 10th. This is making for an extremely tight battle at the top of the standings.
Manchester City currently leads the way and looks to be the strongest side based on current form. They have won their last 11 games in all competitions and haven’t lost a game since November. If City does hold on for the title it will be their 3rd title in four seasons. Helping Man City’s quest is Liverpool’s poor form. The defending champions have struggled this season and have only won 1 of their last 6 league games. They currently sit 4th.
Three of England’s biggest teams have not made the best starts and sit between 6th and 9th. Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arsenal have been inconsistent this season and will hope for a strong second half of the season if they are to push for the top spots.
At the bottom end of the table, Fulham, West Brom, and Sheffield United currently occupy the relegation spots. Sheffield United started the season awfully, failing to win any of their first 17 games. However, since they have won two of three including a massive shock by beating second-placed Manchester United.
The rest of the season appears as though it will be as unpredictable as the first half. One thing is for certain though, there will be plenty more shock results in the most even league in European soccer.
Spain, La Liga:
1 – Atletico Madrid – 47 Points
2 – Real Madrid – 40 Points
3 – Barcelona – 37 Points
4 – Sevilla – 36 Points
In Spain, the four biggest clubs occupy the top four spots. Going as you would expect then? No, despite the four Spanish giants being at the top, the current order is very much unexpected. Atletico Madrid currently leads the way and has a seven-point gap at the top having played a game less than the others.
It was hard to see this coming based on last season. Last year, Atletico finished in 3rd, 12 points behind Barca and 17 behind Real. In fact, it was hard to see it coming based on the last 16 seasons. Of the last 16 seasons, Barca or Real have won 15 of them.
If Atletico were to hold on for the win it would be an almighty upset. It would also be just their second league title in the last 24 years. However, there is a long way to go.
At the bottom of the league, Alaves, Elche, and Huesca currently sit in the relegation spots. Huesca appears to be in big trouble, finding themselves six points from safety. Having only won one game so far it looks a tall order for them to avoid relegation.
1 – Bayern Munich – 42 Points
2 – RB Leipzig – 35 Points
3 – Leverkusen – 32 Points
4 – Wolfsburg – 32 Points
In Germany, the Bundesliga seems to be going to script at the halfway point. Bayern Munich is not only the strongest side in Germany, but they are widely regarded as the best team in European soccer at the moment. This makes it no surprise they are 7 points clear at the top of the league. Bayern has won the last 8 Bundesliga titles and has won 16 of the last 22 league titles. As such, it appears that the 2020/21 season in Germany is going exactly as expected.
Below Bayern, there is an exciting race for the rest of the top 4 spots. Currently, there are just 8 points between 2nd and 9th. Within the mix for these places, you have German powerhouses including Dortmund, Wolfsburg, and Leverkusen.
If anyone was to make a run at catching Dortmund you may have thought it could be Dortmund. With talented youngsters like Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, you’d expect them to be closer to the top spots. However, this has not been the case, their recent form has been terrible, winning only 2 of their last 10 league games.
At the wrong end of the table, Schalke is in last place. Despite being one of the bigger clubs in Germany they have only won one of their first 18 games. Schalke are the 4th most successful side in German league history, having won 7 titles. However, it appears their stay at the top of the German game is coming to an end.
Italy, Serie A:
1 – AC Milan – 43 Points
2 – Inter Milan – 41 Points
3 – Roma – 37 Points
4 – Juventus – 36 Points
At the halfway point, Serie A is in a similar situation to the Spanish league. It is four of the biggest names in Italy at the top of the table. However, not in the order, you may expect. AC Milan currently leads the way, 2 points clear of city rivals Inter. The clear favorites at the start of the season were Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus. Despite being led by one of the best players in soccer, Juventus are struggling. They are currently 7 points behind AC Milan and on current form appear unlikely to win a 10th consecutive Series A title.
If the second half of the season progresses in a similar way then the Milan sides seem to be in a two-horse race. If AC Milan does win it will be their first title since 2010/11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is their driving force and has scored 12 league goals, only Ronaldo and Immobile scored more this season.
Below the top two, it is very congested in the race for the European spots. There are only 7 points separating Roma in 7th and Sassuolo in 9th. This should make for an exciting second half of the season with so many clubs having something to play for.
At the bottom end of the league, there seem to be four teams who are in grave danger of going down. Torino, Cagliari, Parma, and Crotone occupy 17th to 20th and there are just 2 points between them. It seems likely that it will be three of these four sides who are relegated come to the end of the season.
France, Ligue 1:
1 – PSG – 45 Points
2 – Lille – 45 Points
3 – Lyon – 43 Points
4 – Monaco – 39 Points
The French league is widely regarded as the weakest of the 5 major European soccer leagues. In recent years it has been a breeze for PSG each season. In fact, PSG has won the last 3 titles by 12, 16, and 13 points. Although PSG is yet again at the top, the French league seems to be much closer this season. In fact, there are only 2 points between the top 3 teams which suggests PSG is in for a much tougher challenge if they want to win their 8th title in 9 years.
The top 5 sides currently seem to be the strongest sides by a distance with Rennes in 5th 4 points clear of Marseille in 6th. As such, the top 5 teams appear to be fighting it out for the 4 European places. Below Rennes, it is much more congested with only 8 points separating 6th place and 15th place.
At the bottom of the table, Nimes, Lorient, and Dijon already have a gap to close if they are to avoid relegation to France’s second tier.