While the Premier League continues over the holiday period, the rest of the leagues are approaching their holiday breaks. Spanish sides will play a round of Copa del Rey fixtures. Serie A, the Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 will all play midweek fixtures this week. Here is a quick look at where we stand. Next week, I will put out my review of 2016 and some big takeaways.
Primera Division, AKA La Liga
The Spanish league has the familiar two at the top of the table. Real Madrid are on top of the table as they look to win their first league title since 2012 and second since 2008. They are unbeaten this season. Barcelona are in second place right now, just 3 points behind Real Madrid having played one more game than their rivals. They have struggled this season, losing twice so far. They will need Real Madrid to slip up if they are to win their second title in a row. Atletico Madrid has been the surprise as they are in 6th place. They have really struggled losing 3 of their last 6 games. Sevilla have taken advantage of Atletico’s bad form. They are in third place right now just a point behind Barcelona and 4 points behind Real Madrid. They look to be a top contender for a Champions League place this season. Villarreal and Real Sociedad are competing for the fourth spot right now with Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. Villarreal and Real Sociedad both have 29 points. Atletico Madrid is a point behind them and Athletic Bilbao is 3 points behind.
On the other end of the table, Osasuna is in trouble. They have lost 6 straight games and are winless in 8 games, having won only once this season. They have 7 points so far and will need a substantial change in play if they are going to survive. Granada is also in trouble as they have just 9 points. They have also won just once this season when they shocked Sevilla. Sporting Gijon is in 18th place right now. They are three points above Granada and have a chance at survival. They are level on points with Valencia right now and if they can string some points together then they can survive. Valencia has gone winless in their last 7 games which puts them just outside the bottom 2. The gap from Valencia to Deportivo is 4 points and it looks like Deportivo is safe. Leganes might also be able to survive if they can keep getting some points in the new year.
The title race is a two horse race and it is not the two that we would have thought. Bayern Munich is on top of the table heading into the top two clash this weekend when they host RB Leipzig. RB Leipzig have been the story of the season having just lost their first game two weeks ago. These two teams are level on 36 points right now and have a substantial lead on the rest of the league. The gap is currently 7 points. These two will battle for the winter title as this is the final game for each side this year. The race for the other two Champions League places is tight. Right now Frankfurt is in third place with 29 points. Dortmund is in 4th place with 27 points, but Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin also have 27 points. Koln is just 3 points behind them. The title race will hopefully be a good one but the race for the final two spots will be tight all season.
On the bottom, Darmstadt looks like they are in trouble as they sit 5 points from safety. They have won just twice all season. Ingolstadt was the team able to defeat Leipzig, but they still sit in the bottom 2 and they have just 12 points. They are in a tight race for survival as they are within 3 points of 15th place Bremen. Hamburger are in the relegation playoff spot right now. Bremen are close but can survive if they are able to keep their pace. Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg are having disappointing seasons right now and could get drawn in to the relegation fight in the new year.
What a change a year makes. This time last year Leicester were on top and Chelsea was in 15th place. This year, Chelsea are on top and Leicester is in 15th place. Chelsea is 6 points clear at the top and have really found their form in their new 3-4-3 formation. Liverpool have the most explosive offense, scoring almost 2.5 goals a game. Their defense has been comical at times. They sit in second place. Manchester City have had a disappointing start to the season as they sit in 3rd place 7 points behind the leaders. Arsenal are in 4th place right now. They are in the title race but barely and will need to make up some ground over the Christmas period. Tottenham are 1 point behind Arsenal right now and will hope to get back into the top 4 by the end of the holiday period. Manchester United have seen their form turn around lately but they will need a great holiday run to get into the top four this season.
On the bottom end of the table, Hull and Swansea are in trouble. They are both on 12 points and at the bottom of the table. Sunderland are 2 points above these two and are trending upwards as they have won 3 of their last 6 games. They are just 1 point behind Crystal Palace and safety. Burnley and Leicester are three point clear of the relegation zone and will hope to stay safe this season but could fall into the relegation fight.
Juventus just had their statement win as they defeated Roma 1-0 this weekend thanks to Gonzalo Higuain. They are now 7 points clear and 6th straight title. Roma will now look to hold on to their Champions League spot. The distance between 2nd and 6th is just 3 points. Napoli and Lazio are 1 point back of Roma. AC Milan is 2 points back and Atalanta is 3 points. This should be a great race for the final two spots in the Champions League. From 6 to 7 we see a bit of a drop as Inter are 5 points behind Atalanta.
At the bottom of the table Pescara, Palermo, and Crotone are all in the bottom three and all look to be in trouble. Pescara is on the bottom of the table with 8 points. Crotone and Palermo are just a point better than them heading into the midweek games this week. Crotone and Palermo are 5 points from safety and will need to get some points in a hurry if they are to survive.
This was shaping up to be one of the better title races. Nice, Monaco, and PSG were all in a tight race but it looks like Nice is pulling away with the title. Nice are on top of the table right now. They are 4 points clear at the top now over Monaco. PSG are 7 points behind Nice. PSG is winless in their last three games and lost 2 of those games. Monaco lost their last game and this has given Nice their lead. It will tighten as we go but Nice are in the driver’s seat right now. Lyon are in fourth but they are 5 points behind PSG and not really in the title race but could sneak into the Champions League race.
The bottom of the table is very tight as well. The gap between 20th and 12th is just 5 points. Lorient are on the bottom of the table with just 15 points. Nantes are in 19th place just a point above Lorient. Dijon also has 16 points but has a better goal difference than Nantes so they are in the relegation playoff spot. Metz and Caen are both on 18 points. Angers are on 19 points. Nancy and Lille are on 20 points. All of these teams are going to be a tight race for survival as the season starts up again in the New Year.