The football season is closely approaching the midpoint in all major European leagues, and what an exciting and competitive season it is turning out to be. There are no runaway leaders so far, making every point count. For this weekend, here are the major highlights across the leagues.

English Premier League

It is a three-horse race at this point involving Manchester City (35), Liverpool (34), and Chelsea (33). Both teams have had turns at the top, and they all play on Saturday. Man City has the early kickoff hosting Wolves, who were close to earning a point against Liverpool last week before a late Origi winner for a slim 1-0 win.

Liverpool themselves will be against a former talisman in Steven Gerrad guiding a resurgent Aston Villa in his first visit to Anfield as a coach. On the other hand, Chelsea hosts tricky Leeds, who will be looking to test a defense that has been leaking goals in recent matches. Should the blues drop any points, it could quickly turn into a two-horse race, and Tuchel may start feeling the pressure.

The battle for the top four is also in full swing, with at least four teams in the mix. The main contenders West Ham and Manchester United, separated by 3 points, are away to two teams at the bottom, Burnley and Norwich, respectively. However, the relegation-threatened teams, along with Newcastle, are tied on 10 points that will be feeling the heat more.

The managers in the hot soup are Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers, Arsenal’s Arteta, and Everton’s Benitez. They all face matches they are expected to win against Southampton, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace. Should they lose, the calls for a change may see one or two lose their spots come the new year.

Spain La Liga

Spain provides the biggest match for the weekend; the Madrid Derby with Real Madrid in first, hosting Atletico Madrid in fourth. Real Madrid leads the league with 39 points, and they are in a rich goalscoring form while at 10 points behind, albeit with a game in hand.

Still, Madrid seems set to be league winners as Sevilla in second, trail by 8 points, and there is a real battle for second, third, and fourth places. Sevilla (31) led Vallecano in 7th place by only 4 points. Atletico Madrid will be seeking a win in the derby with the knowledge that one or both Real Betis and Real Sociedad will lose points. The two teams play each other and sandwich Atletico Madrid in the table positions. Sevilla has a tricky tie away to Athletic Club.

At the bottom, things are interesting where Villareal is in 14th place, but on 16 points can be drawn into a relegation battle with only 4 points separating the Yellow Submarines from 18th placed Cadiz on 12th place. With only 8 points from 16 games, Levante is dead set to be relegated, and it does not get easier as they travel to Espanyol.

Barcelona is in seventh, six points below fourth place, and if Xavi does not find a consistent winning formula soon, they could be battling for the Europa Conference league positions. On Sunday, they travel to Osasuna, who are in the tenth and only two points behind.

Germany Bundesliga

Bundesliga is unexpectedly tight than one would expect given Bayern Munich’s dominance. They lie in the first place, only four points ahead of arch-rivals Dortmund, who are still harboring bitterness following what they felt was a controversial Bayern win when the sides last met.

Still, they must pick the arses up as they were bundled out of the Champions League. They would need a statement performance against the 10th placed VFL Bochum. It does help that Erling Haaland is back playing and thus back to scoring goals.

Bayern has a tricky match against Mainz in 7th at the Allianz Arena. Their own goalscoring machine, Lewandowski will be looking to bolster further his reputation as the best player striker in the world.

The race for the remaining two champions league positions is also in earnest and provides exciting matches. In third, Bayer Leverkusen (27) is only four points ahead of Union Berlin (23) in 6th. Leverkusen host Frankfurt in 12th place in what promises to be a goal-fest. They will be happy that close rivals Freiburg in 4th play Hoffenheim in 5th. Union Berlin seems to have the easiest match of the chasing pack as they play host to Furth, the last team in the league with only one point from 14 games.

Italy Serie A

Last season Serie A delivered one of the closest fought league titles, and this season it has done one better. Four teams are still in the title race, with first-placed AC Millan on 38 points while fourth-placed Atalanta has 34 points. In second place in Inter Milan with 37 points and Napoli is in third with 36 points. Juventus are still finding their way and come in fifth tied on 27 points with Fiorentina, who are in sixth. The two are in a tight battle for the Europa League spot with Roma and Lazio, who are all tied on 27 points and in 7th and 8th position, respectively.

Inter hosts third from bottom Cagliari, while Napoli hosts Empoli. AC Milan travels to an out of sorts Udinese while Atalanta has arguably the hardest task of the title contenders traveling to 10th placed Verona. It is a game of snakes and ladders at the top of the table, and a bad result can take you to the wrong battle.

France Ligue Un

Ligue Un is easily the most decided title battle, with PSG sitting pretty on 42 points, the most in any major league, and 11 points ahead of the closest challenger. They are winning it at a trot which you wouldn’t tell given the pressure Pochettino faces every time they are not blasting five or more goals, past teams. They cannot afford to ease off the foot from the pedal, though as this weekend they host arch-rival in Monaco, who are unbeaten in their last five games and winning two back-to-back. Monaco is in 7th in contention of a European position as they are just three points from Marseille in third with 29 points.

Defending champions Lille are putting up the worst defense for a title, as they hang around in the 12th position on 24 points. They play against 13th placed Lyon, a pale shadow of their former self. Another interesting match is between surprise package Rennes in second place against fourth-place Rennes with only four points between them.

Portugal League

Primeira Liga also provides a tight title fight with Porto and Sporting tied on 35 points in first and second place. In third place is Benfica with 31 points. Porto plays fifth place, Braga, while Sporting hosts out of form Boavista in 13th place. Benfica travels to struggling Famalicao, though the away trip may look tricky.

Dutch League

In Eredivisie, league leaders Ajax are not running away with the league just yet despite their impressive performances. They have 36 points while Feyenoord is in second place with 35 and PSV is third with 34. That means any side could end the weekend on top in one of the closest title races in the Dutch league in recent years.  Feyenoord has the easiest task of the three away to Groningen on Sunday while Ajax hosts 8th place AZ Alkmaar the same day. On Sunday, too, PSV travels to NEC but has the advantage of playing later, knowing the results of all their rivals.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here