football

Squeaky Bum Time: A Look Around Europe’s Biggest Leagues

May 10, 2017

- Grant Whittington

The curtain is about to be drawn on the football season, but despite having caught most of the spectacle, the biggest drama is yet to come. With titles still to be decided and Champions League spots up for grabs, we take a look at how the leagues are looking around Europe.

Premier League

Where Is The Title Heading?

Chelsea moved to the cusp of a fifth top-flight crown under the ownership of Roman Abramovich thanks to their emphatic 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough on Monday night. The maths is simple – one win from any of their remaining three matches would secure the first half of a potential Premier League and FA Cup “double” in Antonio Conte’s maiden campaign.

Spurs valiant pursuit of this well-oiled, winning machine appears to be in vain with their defeat at West Ham last Friday all but ending their dreams of a first ever Premier League success. The Blues can clinch the title on Friday evening when they travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Brom.

Champions League Spots

Liverpool and Manchester City know that maximum points from their remaining games will secure them a place in Europe’s premier competition next season. Both teams on paper have favourable run-ins, but Jurgen Klopp’s men in particular have started to wobble in recent weeks as the finish line edges closer.

Jose Mourinho appears to have placed all of his eggs in the Europa League basket with success in this event paving the way for a spot in next year’s Champions League. His injury-ravaged squad still face difficult trips to White Hart Lane and St Mary’s, so the logical route for the red half of Manchester is to try and supplement a Europa League triumph to their League Cup success.

Arsenal always come into element when the pressure is off and Arsene Wenger will be beaming from his first win over the self-proclaimed ‘special one’ after a torturous run spanning 14 matches over a period of 11 years. It will still be a tough ask for the Gunners if they are to continue their proud record which has seen them finish in the top-four for 20 consecutive seasons. They won’t give up the chase easily, but the harsh reality is that their destiny is out of their hands.

Whose For The Drop?

It was only a matter of time before one of Sunderland’s miraculous escape acts failed and their descent into the Championship will be alongside Tees-Wear rivals Middlesbrough whose goal-shy antics have been the downfall of their immediate return to the second tier of English football.

Barring a disaster, Watford have scrapped and struggled their way to survival which leaves one of three for the final opening in the trapdoor – Crystal Palace, Swansea or Hull. It is the Tigers who currently occupy the dreaded 18th position, but their crunch clash with Sam Allardyce’s men on Saturday could go a long way to deciding their fate.

A point for Palace would see them safe for another year whereas the Swans are the current form side lurching in the lower echelons of the division having amassed seven points from their last nine, including last week’s morale-boosting win at home to Everton which lifted them out of the relegation zone. They have two very winnable matches against Sunderland and West Brom still to come.

Consequently it seems that despite their magnificent revival, Hull have left themselves too much to do and will ultimately make an immediate return to the Championship.

La Liga

Where Is The Title Heading?

Real Madrid’s recent haul of one league title in eight years is simply unacceptable, although the destination of this season’s trophy still lies in their hands despite their dramatic defeat in another absorbing El Clasico at the back end of April. Both sides are currently locked on 84 points with Barcelona above them on their head-to-head record, although it is Los Merengues who have that all-important game in hand.

Their Catalan rivals will be ready to pounce on any slip-up as their toughest test fast approaches, with Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla in the Spanish capital this Sunday. It was Los Blanquirrojos who famously ended  Real’s 40-match unbeaten run in all competitions by coming from behind with two late goals to secure a 2-1 home win at the turn of the year. Could history repeat itself?

Champions League Spots

Athletico Madrid may be on the verge of a painful last-four exit to fierce neighbours Rival, but Diego Simeone’s men are within tantalising reach of booking their spot in next season’s group stages. They sit five points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla with only six left to play for. Sevilla need just a solitary point to see off the threat of Villarreal following their superb campaign which saw them sustain a serious title challenge for large parts of the campaign.

Whose For The Drop?

Tony Adams has been unable to retain Granada’s La Liga status whilst Osasuna’s abysmal campaign has seen them accumulate a measly 19 points so far. They are likely to be joined by Sporting Gijon who spectacularly escaped relegation last year – ‎Rojiblancos have five points to make up on Deportivo and therefore must be perfect in their remaining two matches to have any chance of staying in Spain’s top tier.

A Round-Up Of Europe’s Other Big Leagues

Serie A

Where Is The Title Heading?

Juventus are just one win away from a sixth consecutive Serie A title and this wonderfully balanced side moved a step closer to the treble following their impressive semi-final display against AS Monaco which sees them advance to a second Champions League final in three years.

Champions League Spots

Roma and Napoli are already assured of a place in next season’s Champions League with one from Lazio or Atalanta to join then.  It is the former who currently occupy fourth spot and look most likely from football predictions of the last few games. They’re five points ahead of their closest challengers with nine points left to play for.

Whose For The Drop?

Palermo and Pescara have already perished which leaves 18th place Crotone to make up the four point deficit between them and Empoli. Genoa could also be dragged into a dogfight if they fail to pick up some positive results in the coming weeks.

Bundesliga

Bavarian giants Bayern Munich have already secured a record-extending fifth straight Bundesliga crown.

Champions League Spots

RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim cannot be caught in the race for a top four spot and will represent Germany in next season’s Champions League alongside Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Whose For The Drop?

Hamburg SV edge ever closer to a relegation playoff spot for the third time in the last four seasons. Mainz, also on 34 points are a spot above them in 15th. Darmstadt 98 were officially relegated last Saturday after a 1-0 loss to Bayern and Ingostadt are in 17th, four points behind Hamburg.

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