Top & Bottom of the Table Updates…

With just over a month left in the season, I think this is the perfect time to take a look at the race for the title, Champions League, Europa League, and relegation in each of the five leagues.

England – Premier League

Title – This is a two horse race for the title and none of the usual suspects are involved. Leicester City is 8 points away from clinching the title. They are currently 5 points clear of Tottenham. With just 4 games to go, Leicester needs to come up with some big results if they are to win their first ever Premier League title. Tottenham will hope that they are able to draw level as their goal difference is far superior to Leicester’s.

Champions League – Leicester City will play in the Champions League next season. Tottenham also looks set to play in the Champions League as well. Manchester City and Arsenal currently sit in third and fourth respectively and should qualify for the Champions League next season. Manchester United should push those two to the end but look to come up just short.

Europa League – England gets three spots in the Europa League; one for league position, one for the League Cup winner and one for the FA Cup winner. Since Manchester City won the League Cup, their spot is given to the 6th place team in the table. The FA Cup is in the semifinals currently which will take place next weekend. Everton will face Manchester United and Crystal Palace will face Watford. United is the only team in the Europa League places left so most likely the winner will qualify for the Europa League. That leaves the two league spots. Currently United are in fifth and should qualify for the Europa League. West Ham is currently in 6th on 53 points. Southampton is in 7th on 51 points but has played one more game than West Ham. Liverpool is also on 51 points, but they have played 1 game less than West Ham. If they are able to win their game in hand then they will jump into the Europa League place.

Relegation – Aston Villa is the first team to be relegated this season from the Premier League. The two teams that will join Villa in the Championship is still up in the air. It is between three teams for the two spots. Newcastle (28 points, 33 games played), Sunderland (30, 33), and Norwich City (31, 34) Norwich is in trouble if Newcastle and Sunderland can get positive results in the midweek games this week. Goal difference may play a part and Sunderland has a nice advantage at -18, compared to Norwich (-25) and Newcastle (-26).

Spain – La Liga

Title – The tile race has really heated up lately thanks to a dramatic loss of form from Barcelona. There are still 5 games to play, but this is very much a three-team race. Barcelona is on top with 76 points. Atletico Madrid is level on points with Barcelona but in second place. Real Madrid is 1 point behind both of them. Barcelona has the tie breaker on each of their rivals since they won aggregate score of their head to head matchups. This looks like it could go down to the wire.

Champions League – Spain gets four spots in the Champions League next season. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid will take up three of those spots. The final spot is still up for grabs, but it is looking more and more likely that it will be Villarreal. They are currently in fourth place with a 6 point lead on Athletic Bilbao in 5th. If they dramatically lose their form then it could be a race, but I expect Villarreal to hold on to fourth place.

Europa League – Spain gets three spots in the Europa League next season. Two are based on league standing and go to the fifth and sixth place teams. The third goes to the winner of the Copa del Rey. The final will be played between Barcelona and Sevilla. If Barcelona wins, then the seventh place team will get the third spot. If Sevilla wins then they get the spot. Villarreal is guaranteed at least a spot in the Europa League, but I expect them to take the final Champions League spot. This leaves Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, and Sevilla for the Europa League place. Bilbao is on 54 points, Vigo 53, and Sevilla on 49. Malaga, Real Sociedad, and Eibar are next in the table on 41 points, but I see it being difficult for them to make up the gap.

Relegation – The bottom of the table is very tight and could change from week to week. Currently it is Getafe (28 points), Levante 28, Sporting Gijon (29), Granada (3), Rayo (34), and Espanyol (36). I feel that this is a four team race for survival and only one will survive. I think that if you can get to 38 points then you will be safe. Besides that, I think it will be Getafe, Levante, and Granada who are relegated, but it could be any of the bottom four clubs.

Germany –Bundesliga

Title – Bayern Munich is 5 points away from clinching their 3rd consecutive title in a row under Pep Guardiola, and four in a row overall. If they are able to win their next two games, they are Champions. Borussia Dortmund put up a good fight, but it will be too little in the end as they are currently 7 points back.

Champions League – Germany gets four Champions League places. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have two of those places clinched. The other two are up for grabs. Currently, Bayer Leverkusen (51 points) and Hertha Berlin (49) sit in the final two spots. However, three teams are right on their heels. Borussia Monchengladbach, Mainz 05, and Schalke are all on 45 points and will hope that Hertha and Bayer slip up so they can qualify.

Europa League –The Europa League will really be a consolation prize for the three teams that miss out on the Champions League. Germany gets three spots in the Europa League. Two for the league places and one for the Pokal Cup. Right now the cup is in the semifinals. It features Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund. If any team besides Werder Bremen wins, then the teams that finish 5th, 6th, and 7th will qualify for the Europa League. The semifinals are this week. Besides the five teams in the hunt for the final two Champions League places, I do not see any team really making a challenge for the Europa League. Wolfsburg sits in 8th on 39 points, but they will need a lot of help to catch Schalke, Mainz, and Monchengladbach.

Relegation – I hate to say it but I think Hannover 96 is going down. They are currently on 21 points and need to earn 10 points in their remaining games and have the teams above them earn 0 points. There are only 12 more available points. Germany does relegation a little differently than the rest of the world. The bottom two teams are relegated and the team in 16th place goes into the relegation playoff against the third place team in the 2. Bundesliga. Currently, Hannover (21) and Eintracht Frankfurt (27) are in the relegation spots. Werder Bremen (31) is in the play-off spot. Just above the drop zone is Stuttgart (33), Augsburg (33), Hoffenheim (34), Hamburger SV (34), and Darmstadt 98 (35). I think that the three teams in the relegation spots will stay there, but you never know.

Italy – Serie A

Title – Technically, Napoli can still catch Juventus for the title, but I think that is unlikely following their defeat this weekend. They trail Juventus by 9 points with just 5 games to go. Juventus needs a total of 6 points to win the title and they will have clinched their 5th title in a row.

Champions League – Italy gets three spots in the Champions League. Juventus has one of those spots clinched. Napoli should clinch their spot in the next couple weeks as they need 6 points to clinch. Roma is the third and final spot and their spot is more in doubt. They are just 4 points above Internazionale. The race for the third spot should be interesting between these two teams.

Europa League – Italy gets three spots to the Europa League. Since Juventus and Milan have reached the final of the 2015-16 Coppa Italia, it appears that the 6th place team will qualify for the Europa League if Juventus wins. It will be Milan if they win the Coppa. Inter looks set to at the worst qualify for the Europa League. Fiorentina is in 5th place. They are currently on 59 points. Milan is in 6th on 52 points. Sassuolo and Lazio are in 7th and 8th respectively, but are 4 points behind Milan. They will need to have some results go their way if they are to qualify.

Relegation – The relegation fight is another four team race for survival.   Hellas Verona will need to win out if they have any chance of survival. They currently have 22 points. Palermo is 6 points above Hellas in 19th place. Frosinone is in 18th place with 30 points. They are one point from safety behind Carpi who has 31 points. Udinese is in 16th place on 35 points, but I think they will be able to survive.

France – Ligue 1

Title – Paris Saint-Germain is the champions of the French League.

Champions League – France gets three spots in the Champions League. PSG has one of them. The other two are still up for grabs. Monaco is currently in second place on 58 points; Lyon is in third on 56 points. Both Nice and Saint-Etienne will hope that those two slip up, as they are 4 behind Monaco and just 2 behind Lyon.

Europa League – France is given 3 places in the Europa League. They currently have one given to the 4th place team and then one given to the winner of the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue. If PSG is able to win both of these competitions, then the 5th and 6th place teams would qualify. The Coupe de France is in the semifinals that will be played this week. Lorient hosts PSG and Sochaux host Marseille. The Coupe de la Ligue Final is set to take place next weekend and features PSG vs. Lille. The race for fourth is down to Nice (54), Saint-Etienne (54), Lille (52), Rennes (51), and Angers (49). Most likely three of these teams will qualify for the Europa League.

Relegation – The relegation battle is getting tighter as Troyes is relegated to the Ligue 2. Toulouse and Gazelec Ajaccio currently hold the other two relegation places, but they can at least see safety. Toulouse is 3 points and Gazelec Ajaccio is 2 points behind Reims and safety. Montpellier and Marseille are on 40 points and 6 points clear. They should be safe for this season.

Goal of the Weekend

My Goal of the Week this weekend is Juan Cuadrado’s nice finish for Juventus against Palermo.

This week there is plenty of midweek action. The leagues seem to be taking advantage of the week off from European competitions.

England – There is a small slate of games this week for teams to make up missed matches. The headliner has to be the Merseyside Derby on Wednesday between Liverpool and Everton. However, Arsenal, Manchester United, West Ham, and Manchester City are all in action as well.

Spain – There is a full slate of this weekend. Can Barcelona end their losing streak? They travel to Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday. Atletico Madrid can jump into first if they can win at Athletic Bilbao. Real Madrid will face Villarreal in the best matchup of the week. We could have a new leader on Thursday.

Italy – Serie A also has a full slate of games this week. Juventus vs. Lazio is the headliner of the week, but a lot of questions could be answered before Friday.

Germany – The DFB Pokal semifinals take place the week. On Tuesday, Bayern Munich will host Werder Bremen. On Wednesday, Hertha Berlin hosts Borussia Dortmund.

France – The semifinals of the Coupe de France are on Tuesday and Thursday. Lorient hosts PSG on Tuesday and Sochaux hosts Marseille on Thursday.

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