The 2020/21 season in world football, for multiple factors, was about finding a delectable amalgamation of a return to normalcy whilst also disrupting the established status-quo.
Following an unprecedented 2019/20 season, which saw football all across the globe coming to a synchronized hiatus owing to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, we saw football slowly but certainly finding its lost glory back last season.
With matches being played without any abrupt fixture changes and postponements and fans coming back to flock to the stadiums, the 2020/21 season was, from this particular perspective, about reclaiming normalcy.
From another perspective, however, there was a radical change – a tectonic transformation in power. The powerhouses of European football who once used to dominate the continent, in the likes of Barcelona and Juventus, saw their charm and effervescence not working anymore.
In Italy, Inter Milan ended Juventus’ dominance to lift the Serie A, as the Old Lady had to part ways with the crown after nine consecutive triumphs. In Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona saw the once two-horse title race being moulded into a three-way battle with Atletico Madrid.
Leaving Los Blancos and Blaugranas behind, Diego Simeone’s warriors became the first team outside the top two to get their hands on the La Liga trophy. Atletico Madrid’s and Inter Milan’s stories were inspirational, but the most incredible underdog story unfolded in France.
Ligue 1 became an essentially one-team tournament ever since Qatar Investment Authority bought Paris Saint-Germain. Superstar acquisitions and subsequent heavy spending in almost every transfer window meant the other French clubs were not able to match Parisiens’ level.
The team from the French capital won seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles since the 2012/13 season – with most of them being won by massive margins. However, an indomitable LOSC Lille stunned the world when they beat PSG to the French crown last season.
Needless to say, expectations were high from the 2021/22 season, and from what we have seen so far, it will be a fair assessment to term the ongoing season as a ‘compelling’ one, with many leagues providing neck-and-neck battles for the title.
Let us have a look at the frontrunners of Europe’s big five leagues
Premier League – Manchester City
It has not been long since Manchester City was involved in a three-way scrap alongside Liverpool and Chelsea for the title, but their unparalleled consistency and the others’ lack of it has helped the Cityzens put some daylight between them and the chasing pack.
They have won the most matches (14), conceded the least goals (9) and have the joint-best goal difference (35). At the time of writing this piece, Manchester City are holding pole position with 44 points, with Liverpool at second with 41 points and Chelsea at third with 38 points.
La Liga – Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid have fallen from their pedestal, while there is seemingly no end to Barcelona’s nascent agony, which has left Real Madrid with a fantastic opportunity of reclaiming the La Liga title.
They are currently in first place with 46 points from 19 matches – eight points more than the second-placed Sevilla side. Carlo Ancelotti’s boys also have scored the most goals – 41. Given how things stand in Spain currently, it will be a real surprise if Real Madrid (pun is most certainly intended) do not have their 35th title, come the end of the season.
Serie A – Inter Milan
Unlike Spain, the status quo has not changed in Italy. Inter Milan parted ways with their manager, Antonio Conte and also their talismanic frontman, Romelu Lukaku, but that has had absolutely no effect on their performances.
They are currently at the top of the standings, having accumulated 46 points from 19 matches. AC Milan is second with 42 points, but in many aspects, the Nerazzurri are ahead of their arch-rivals.
Ligue 1 – Paris Saint-Germain
The 2021/22 Ligue 1 season is pretty similar to the ongoing La Liga edition, as the favourites have reclaimed lost glory on French soil as well. LOSC Lille have not been able to replicate their terrific form from last season and have accumulated only 28 points from the first 19 matches of the season – which has kept them at the eighth position.
On the other hand, Paris Saint-Germain not only have had a fantastic summer transfer window, which saw them signing superstars like Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but they also have been successful at dominating their domestic competition. Mauricio Pochettino’s team has won 14 of their 19 matches so far and is placed at the first position with 46 points. Second-placed OGC Nice are 13 points behind, which effectively leaves the competition with only one favourite despite the season only being at its mid-way point.
Bundesliga – Bayern Munich
Come what way, Bundesliga is the only league among Europe’s top five where seemingly no power is powerful enough to disrupt the status quo like the other leagues. Bayern Munich have won the last nine editions of this competition and they look all set to make it ten triumphs on the trot.
Like Inter Milan, Bayern also parted ways with their manager Hans Dieter-Flick, who was appointed as Joachim Low’s successor at the Germany national football team. Having said that, Julian Nagelsmann has taken no time in getting his philosophy and playing style imparted across his squad.
The Bavarians have won 14 of their 17 matches and are sitting pretty at the top with 43 points to their name. As is the case often, Borussia Dortmund is in the second place, but the nine-point gap they have with Robert Lewandowski & Co. seems to be too big to make up.
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