Will it be Real Madrid or Barca for La Liga? Can Monaco keep on leading Ligue Un? And will Mourinho be a flop at Manchester United?
It’s the time of the season we’ve all been waiting for. With the last international break now a memory, the domestic titles and European Cups enter the juiciest and most decisive phase, when we’ll find out who will lift trophies and who will be left with nothing.
Unfortunately for though to those who love a bit of tension, all seems done in the Bundesliga and Premier League, with the Serie A almost over too. But there is all to play for La Liga and France.
Can anyone poop Chelsea’s Premier League party?
In England, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are ten points clear of Tottenham at the top-of-the-table and are cruising to the Premier League title like few teams before. The steady pace of the Blues, after the rocky start in August and September makes a comeback from any of the teams behind almost impossible.
The other big sides, from Liverpool to Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs are busy taking points off each other, whilst the Blues have been beating every smaller club and killing off the title contenders early on.
Comebacks have happened in the past in the Premier League, and the race for a Champions League spot is still exciting, but it is frankly difficult for Conte not to win the title in his first season in England.
Behind Chelsea and Spurs almost anything can happen, with the two Manchester clubs battling with Liverpool and Arsenal to be in next years Champions League. As things are looking, Arsene Wenger’s men seem out of Europe’s top competition next year, and if City grasp third place, the remaining spot will be a fight between Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, with the Portuguese manager who should manage to get the last Champions League place.
Are Madrid the real deal for La Liga?
A completely different scenario in Spain, where Real Madrid are two points ahead of Barcelona at the top (but with a game in hand) and are focussed on taking the Liga title back to the capital after four seasons. The race will carry on until the very end, and with El Clasico still to be played, a turnover could still take place.
Sevilla and Atletico Madrid are both within ten points of the leaders, and are realistically ruled out of the title race. Barcelona have gained all the momentum following the crazy Champions League comeback, but everyone at Real Madrid has made it clear: winning two Champions Leagues in three seasons means Los Blancos are focused on winning the domestic title for once.
The path in Europe could also make a difference in terms of focus, were Madrid to be knocked out against Bayern and Barcelona to progress against Juventus: this could be decisive. But overall, Real Madrid should edge it.
Bayern look unbeatable in the Bundesliga
In the Bundesliga, it is Bayern Munich again who should easily grasp the title. After an impressive start by unfancied RB Leipzig, the Red Bull-backed club have lost momentum and points and now trail the Bavarian champions by 13 points. With nine games left, Bayern need 14 points to be sure to lift the Meisterschale, and if Leipzig slip up in the meantime, Carlo Ancelotti’s side could be crowned champions as early as mid to end of April.
Will Champions League help chasing pack in Serie A?
Eight points separate Juventus and Roma at the top of Serie A after 29 games, with Napoli not far behind on 63 points, chasing the top two. With ten games to go to the end of the season, the Bianconeri are in the best possible position to be able to drop points if necessary and focus on the real seasonal objective: the Champions League.
The double tie against Barcelona could take away physical and psychological focus for Massimiliano Allegri’s men, and if they were to progress, the semi-finals would be another big task. This, combined with the fact Juve have to travel to Rome and Naples (this weekend) to face the biggest rivals, there is still some hope to see a different team snatch the Serie A trophy after five seasons of dominance by the Turin club.
Looking at the experience and the strength of the teams, though, Gianluigi Buffon is still the likeliest man to lift the trophy come May.
Can Monaco pull off a Ligue Un miracle?
Last but by no means least, Ligue 1 offers a fantastic head-to-head that will surely run until the end of the season. Monaco are three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain, but can the Parisians complete the comeback and grab the title?
Monaco, the biggest surprise team of the 2016-2017 season, have progressed in the Champions League, and play Borussia Dortmund: a team they can knock out. This means the European path could be a real distraction for the leaders, even though the chasers – PSG – lack the consistency to win the title.
Monaco have had a steady growth, deserve to win the league and are ahead. Under Unai Emery, PSG have lost the most incredible Champions League tie and are still somehow struggling to find themselves, even though the season is in its final stages. A comeback is possible, but Monaco’s solidity should give them the league trophy come May.