Winter champions: Bayern join Arsenal, Barcelona, PSG and Napoli
Among Europe’s “Big 5” competitions, the Bundesliga has just reached the mid-championship stage, and La Liga will do so this weekend. Apart from Serie A, the title race is tougher at the pinnacle of continental football.
THERE ISEven before the season, the financial strength of some of the big clubs was undermining their domestic competition, and predictions were going well. A priori, Bayern (aiming for a 10th Bundesliga title in a row), Manchester City (a new destination for Erling Braut Haaland), Real Madrid (despite the failure to maintain its vitality, exits the League-Champions League double in the case of Mbappe), PSG and Inter ( with the return of Romelu Lukaku) seemed to be promised to the national champions. Due to the World Cup held in Qatar during the season, the term “autumn champion” has been used a bit more, and this season it is more appropriate to say winter champion, which is the leader, a fortiori, at the European level in the middle of the competition. “Big 5”.
Bundesliga: “Bayern” leads Union Berlin by 3 points
The surprise is not to see Bayern have a subtle leader, but to discover the identity of its current runner-up: Union Berlin, which defines itself as the antithesis of the business of football. The Bavarians are still “a little asleep” after two months of truce. The injuries of Sadio Mane (just before the World Cup), Manuel Neuer (a skiing accident after the elimination of the Mannschaft in Qatar) and Lucas Hernandez (during the first match of the Blues), Noussair’s disease Mazraoui (the consequences of Covid ) have heated up the chronicle. The late arrival of new goalkeeper Yann Sommer (48 hours before the restart at RB Leipzig) distracted from the competition, which continued with two 1-1 draws, including a last-minute draw with Köln at the Allianz Arena on the second Tuesday! Union Berlin (who discovered the Bundesliga in 2019!) even allowed themselves to squat a bit before lining up for the first time, then came back 3 short lengths behind the Bavarians. Behind, RB Leipzig (the coaching change paid off) trail by 4 points, one more than Frankfurt and… Dortmund (who looked relegated after ending their pre-World Cup campaign with two defeats).
Premier League: student Arteta ahead of master Guardiola
We have already started the second leg last weekend, but not all of the matches postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II have been postponed. Arsenal thus only reached the 19-match milestone thanks to a 3-2 win over Manchester United this Sunday. The Gunners lost just 7 points in this first half and are 5 points ahead of Manchester City, who have a game in hand with 50 points. “Big spenders” such as “Chelsea” or “Liverpool” have already left the “competition”. Will the student Arteta surpass the master Guardiola? Despite Gabriel Jesus’ injury, can Leandro Trossard’s new team-mates maintain the pace set under Norwegian Odegaard and reach the 100-point mark like City in 2018? If they succeed, it will be their first title since 2004, when Arsene Wenger’s men became the Invincibles. It would be a famous step forward for the residents of the Emirates Stadium, who are said to be mentally depleted after last season’s Champions League qualification.
League: Clasico for the championship
La Liga will wrap up the first leg this weekend, while Real and Barcelona will have to wait until next week to be level after their matches were postponed due to the Super Cup. Thanks to President Laporta’s financial structure, Barca have a workforce that can go toe-to-toe with Real for the length of the championship (and not just in the Clasico, where the season went 0-4) under Xavi. Santiago Bernabeu). Florentino Perez failed to convince Kylian Mbappe, Barcelona won the “Lewandowski” series. Unlike Real, the blaugrana didn’t stay in the Champions League, but they took advantage of a slow recovery from Ancelotti’s men, as in the Super Cup final in Riyadh, to lead the Merengue by 3 points (they won 1-3, oddly enough). But since then, Real have found some color with their Copa del Rey comeback at Villarreal and their success at Athletic Bilbao. The battle will be intense as we await the Clasico at the Camp Nou on March 19… and perhaps another in the Copa.
Ligue 1: two-faced PSG
Even if the Ile-de-France club missed out on the French title 3 times in 11 seasons under the Qatari flag, it is not unexpected to see PSG leading the way. Under Christophe Galtier’s command and Kylian Mbappe’s (supposed) approval, the current management should be viewed in two different ways: the part with the infernal trio Messi-Neymar-Mbappe literally flying over the competition before the World Cup. .. Recovery after the World Cup between disappointment for some (Marquinhos, Neymar), decompression and reflection for others (Hakimi, Messi, Mbappé). In three league matches after the World Cup, PSG lost twice (Lois Openda’s Racing Lens and Arthur Theate and Jérémy Doc’s Stade Rennes). With 47 points, the Parisians have only 3 points from Lens, the author of 6 consecutive victories, and 5 points over Marseille.
Serie A: A good year for Napoli?
If ever there was a season where Napoli didn’t start as favourites, it was the current one. Losing managers like Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Fabian Ruiz, Kalidou Koulibaly or his ideal 12th man Andrea Petagna, the Partenopei seemed to be in a rebuilding phase with the arrival of unknown players like Leo Östigard, Min-jae Kim, Kvicha Kvaratsk, Kvicha Kvarat . Along with Mattias Olivera Ndombele, Simeone (one of “Cholo’s” sons) or even Raspadori. With just one defeat in 19 matches (Inter) and… 12 points ahead of reigning champions Milan AC, the hole has opened and the Diego Maradona Stadium is already dreaming of a first Scudetto since 1990. de Oro”. Already with the Georgian nicknamed number 77… “Quaradona” Luciano Spalletti’s troops seem to have already put other teams in the line of extras.