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Napoli to Chelsea: Leaders Across Europe’s Big Five Leagues

It’s been eight weeks since fans first returned to stadiums across Europe and domestic football leagues are well into the middle stages where the fortunes of clubs are often decided.

The contest in France and Germany is already looking to be a one-sided affair as it often tends to be. The Premier League has seen four contenders clearly emerge to clinch the title, while in Spain and Italy, the downfall of giants has seen the space open up for lesser-known clubs to claim the top spot.

With eight weeks into the domestic season of football across Europe, here are the table leaders across Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues.

PREMIER LEAGUE – CHELSEA

The Blues have emerged as one of the strongest clubs in England since Thomas Tuchel took charge of the club earlier this year. After defeating Manchester City to clinch the UEFA Champions League last season, Chelsea began the season with a trophy in their bag by defeating Villarreal in the UEFA Supercup in their first fixture of the season.

They made a resounding assertion of their intentions when they defeated arch-rivals Arsenal 2-0 at Emirates Stadium. Their only defeat of the season has been to defending champions Manchester City, but the Blues quickly regrouped to register a 3-1 victory over Southampton last weekend.

Chelsea now lead the Premier League with 16 points from seven games – winning five fixtures and losing just one. But it is not an easy path for the Blues as they are closely trailed by Liverpool, Manchester City, and title favourites Manchester United.

Their performance against both Liverpool and Manchester City has been sub-optimal. Chelsea have also struggled against Juventus in the Champions League group stage, losing the game 1-0,  and it remains to be seen if Thomas Tuchel can deliver on the club’s aspirations to win the Premier League title since 2017.

LA LIGA – REAL MADRID

It is a close contest between the two Madrid-based teams in La Liga this season with Real Madrid only marginally above defending champions Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona, traditionally the top competitor to Real Madrid, are yet to recover from the slump created by the departure of Lionel Messi and other top stars.

Carlo Ancelotti took charge at Santiago Bernabeu after Zinedine Zidane left the club before the start of the season and he has a tough task of fending off the defending champions and reclaiming the title from their intra-city rivals.

Los Blancos began their campaign on a positive note – defeating Alaves 4-1 before managing to narrowly level the fixture against Levante. They managed to remain unbeaten for the first seven fixtures of the season before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Espanyol.

With 17 points from eight fixtures, Real Madrid share the top spot with Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, but a 6-1 thumping of Mallorca has given them the crucial GD to stay on top for now.

BUNDESLIGA – BAYERN MUNICH

Bayern Munich entered the season as favourites to win the Bundesliga once again with the club on track to win their 10th successive league title – a rare feat in Europe.

Robert Lewandowski is once again the main man for the Bavarians as he has already scored seven goals in seven appearances for the team.

Julian Nagelsmann has bolstered his squad this season with eyes firmly set on the European prize. Despite his young age, the 34-year-old has made his mark already at the Allianz Arena with a strong start to the season.

Bayern lead the Bundesliga with 16 points from seven fixtures – level on points with Leverkusen but with a much better GD. The Bavarians have already scored a humongous 24 goals this season – courtesy of 5-0 and 7-0 victories over Hertha and VfL Bochum respectively.

But the highlight of the season so far has been the 12-0 victory over Bremer SV in the DFB-Pokal first round – their highest win since a 15-0 win over FC Schonberg.

he margins of victory that Bayern has been able to manage is likely to secure them an easy victory in the domestic league, and it will be the European stage where their true mettle will be tested.

LIGUE 1 – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

No team has spent as much as the Parisians in their never-ending quest to be crowned European champions. Since 2011, the club went through five different managers – including the likes of Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel, and Villarreal’s Unai Emery.

They have built arguably the most expensive team in the history of club football which includes Sergio Ramos, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar. The addition of Lionel Messi this season has made PSG the club with the most attention in the league and it would be safe to say that this will be the make-or-break season for Mauricio Pochettino and his management team.

Until last week, PSG had a dream start to the season – winning eight out of eight games apart from defeating Manchester City in the Premier League.

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Rennes where the Parisians had no shots on goal despite the presence of both Lionel Messi and Neymar is a cause of concern for Pochettino, who has to find better ways of accommodating so many superstars in a single team.

But with 24 points from eight games and a deep squad strength to rotate among, the Parisians look the favourites to reclaim the Ligue 1 title that they narrowly lost to Lille last season.

SERIE A – NAPOLI

The downfall of Juventus – for long the most dominant team in Italy since the last two seasons – has given other teams in Italy the space to shine.

Inter Milan emerged champions last season after a spectacular season, ending Juventus’ nine-year reign at the top. Napoli ended the season in the fifth spot behind Juve while Milan and Atalanta finished second and third respectively.

With Massimiliano Allegri’s return to Turin, many expected Juve to return to their winning ways, but it hasn’t happened so far.

With seven wins out of seven fixtures, Napoli are having a dream start to the season – a start they desperately need if they want to qualify for the Champions League next year.

Milan are a close second with 19 points while season favourites and defending champions Inter Milan are third with 17 points.

None of the top three clubs have lost a fixture so far, and with Juve losing matches to the likes of Empoli, all three will be having their eyes firmly on racing ahead in the title race.