After the major European Leagues came to an end the past weekend, and with only the Champions League Final between Juventus and Real Madrid being played next weekend, we take a look at the top leagues and make note of the winners, and in accordance the non.
Our focus will be set on the top 5 European leagues that are in Spain, Italy, England, Germany and France.
Spain (La Liga):
After a five-year-banter between Barcelona and Atletico fans, and the spending of more than £300 million on transfers, Real Madrid can finally claim the title: Kings of Spain for the 33rd consecutive time in their glorious history.
A late winner by Messi in the Classico in April provided a scare that things might slip under the watch of manager Zidane, but Los Blancos kept their cool and continued their winning streak, achieving the most important win on the last day of the season at Malaga. With that, El Merengues has now the ability to focus on achieving something no European team has been able to since the great Milan side of 89’ and 90’: winning the Champions League for two consecutive years.
On the other hand, after a disappointing season, and despite winning the Copa del Ray against Alves, Barcelona announced their new manager: Ernesto Valverde. With the great fan favorite, and kick-starter, Iniesta reaching the end of his career, The Catalans are seeking to rebuild their side in a long and demanding season during midfield.
Italy (Serie A):
Perhaps the only surprise in this season’s Scudetto winners Juventus is them winning the title with ONLY 1 week to spare. Momentarily, Juventus are in a league of their own, with an excellent squad and a proven manager in combination with a management that seems to always be 3 steps ahead of its competition. Unsurprisingly, however, is that Bianconeri was able to win their 6th successive scudetto – a record.
With both Milan and Inter being bought by Chinese investors, the summer will be interesting, nonetheless, in regards to how both clubs deal and which signings they will be bringing into the upcoming year as to give Juve a challenge for the title. Else-wise, Juventus would then claim it for the seventh time in their history.
Francesco Totti has officially played his last game against Genoa on Sunday. In a rare scene in football, it would be no exaggeration saying that the whole football world watching was in tears during his farewell. A true servant of Roma, a great ambassador to Italy and one of those legends, whom the game will always remember for their loyalty and professionalism.
The entire stadium and day was for Totti, who fully deserved it.
England (Premier League):
With almost everyone predicting the title not coming out of Manchester in the beginning of the season (including yours truly), Antonio Conte and Chelsea took everyone by surprise when they won the premier league title. After a bumpy start, the Italian managed to discover his best XI, since November, and push start a string of 13 consecutive victories that landed the Blues in a pole position. They never looked back ever since.
Even though the season ended in disappointment as the blues lost the FA Cup final to rivals Arsenal, Conte and his squad will look back at an incredible campaign, and will strive to strengthen their squad this summer, while trying to maintain their stars, like Hazard and Courtois.
Tottenham gave them a scare in the final few weeks, but it was a little too late for Mauricio Pochettino’s brave young squad, whose star striker, Harry “The Hurricane” Kane, claimed the top scorer award for the second year running after scoring 7 goals in the final two games of the season to overcome Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp managed to get their hands on the final champions league’s qualifying spot (deservedly so) after playing what can be considered sensational football in the shape of their deadly trio of Firmino, Coutinho and Mane.
Many firsts also occurred this season in England; for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are outside the top 4 positions for the first time since 1996; Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola finished a season trophyless for the first time ever since he began coaching in 2008; and Jose Mourinho finished the season outside the top 3 for the first time in his career.
However, “The Special One” made amends on that by managing to guide a wounded Manchester United to Europa League glory in Stockholm against Ajax. Combined with the League Cup trophy and the Community Shield earlier in the season, Mourinho’s first year in Manchester can be described surely as a positive one. With Champions League football guaranteed next year, Mourinho can rest assured that he will be able to attract a few big stars in the summer.
There were no surprises in Germany as the reigning champions Bayern Munich won the league comfortably after surviving an early threat, Leipzig, giving Carlo Ancelotti his first taste of league success with the Bavarians.
A sad side-note to that success was the farewell of club captain and legend Philipp Lahm, alongside legendary Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso, after both players decided to hang their boots up by the end of the campaign. Both World Cup winners have set an excellent example of how footballers should behave both on the field and off it.
A happy side-note in Germany was the emergence of beautiful success stories such as Red Bull Leipzig and also Hoffenheim. Leipzig can’t be described as a beautiful story because the overall sentiment from fans of other teams surrounding the club is that of hatred and envy. The reason for that is because fans think the club bought its way into promotion with their new owners. Those sentiments escalated after Leipzig began winning matches, and eventually became runner-uppers to champions Bayern.
However, Hoffenheim have also grabbed some headlines, after securing a fourth qualifying position to the Champions League with the youngest manager in Bundesliga history, Julian Nagelsmann, a 29 year-old. Imagine the Portuguese manager Villas-Boas. Ok, now imagine a younger version of him. Yes, that’s how young Nagelsmann is!
France (Ligue 1):
Last but not least, is the country of romance, love and the recently elected president Emmanuel Macron: France. This year we have witnessed the coronation of a new champion named AS Monaco, after a 17 year dry spell for the winning title of League 1.
I for one, expected Unai Emery to be successful with PSG and to continue the road set by predecessors Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc in previous years. Much to my dismay, I was clearly proven wrong. A bad start with many draws coupled with the embarrassment of surrendering a 4-0 advantage over Barcelona in the Champions League were among many reasons why the Parisians were made to wait another year to lift the trophy they dominated for 4 years in a row.
Nice and their bad boy Mario Balotelli were surprising everyone at first; topping the charts with a good defensive record and scoring decisive winners. Monaco and Leonardo Jardim’s men (or boys, since there are some teenagers like star winger Mbappe), however, were lurking all year, until they had finally snatched their opportunity when both PSG and Nice lost their balance. Having also reached the semifinals of the Champions League this year, the owners of Monaco will be pretty satisfied with the work Jardim has done and achieved this year in the principality.
Above was our round-up of this year’s top five leagues. Enjoy football’s biggest game this Saturday, and make sure to follow us in September when we preview the same leagues and make our predictions of who will make the top, and who will be the eventual flop! Have a great summer!!!