We are more than halfway into the season with approximately ten games left in the top five European championships. In many years, it is very straightforward to predict the favorites in each of these leagues. However, this season has seen the rise of several new contenders vying to knock off Eruope’s traditional club powers. With the international break underway, it is time to dive into each league to see the mainstays and new faces threatening to win their respective championships.
Bayern Munich have been crowned champions of the German Bundesliga for ten consecutive seasons. However, Munich’s supremacy is being seriously challenged in 2023 and we could see a new champion emerge in the Bundesliga. The title is still up for grabs, as only eight points separate the first and fifth ranked teams. RB Leipzig, Union Berlin, and Fribourg all could potentially challenge for the title. However, the team most likely to unseat Bayern Munich is Borussia Dortmund, who are now first in the league and one point ahead of Bayern Munich. The biggest test for them is the upcoming “Der Klassiker” match against Bayern Munich on the first of April. A victory in “Der Klassiker” would distance Dortmund from the rest of the pack. However, even if they win, Dortmund would then have to face the current third ranked team in Union Berlin on the eighth of April. These next two games will be decisive for Dortmund and winning them will go a long way to pulling ahead in the ultra-competitive Bundesliga.
The French Ligue 1 is one of the least contested championships as Paris Saint-Germain has won eight of the last ten editions and will most likely finish on top in 2023. PSG has already been eliminated in the French domestic cup and the competition it values the most: the Champions League. PSG has remained in first place in Ligue 1 since its first game of the season and will most likely finish the season there. However, in the last games before the break, PSG lost to Rennes and second place Marseille defeated Reims, reducing the point differential to just seven points between the two. PSG has already lost four games in 2023. If these lackluster performances continue, and Marseille keeps winning, PSG’s Ligue 1 dominance might come into jeopardy.
Spain’s La Liga is dominated by Real Madrid, Barcelona, and, to a lesser extent, Atletico Madrid. You have to go back to the 2003-2004 season to see another team, in this case Valencia, win La Liga. In the past eighteen seasons, Barcelona has won ten championships, Real six, and Atletico two. This trio always finish in the top three, with the 2011-2012 season being the last time there was a top three other than Barcelona, Real, and Atletico. Barcelona is currently twelve points in front of Real Madrid for first place. Barcelona is the favorite for the 2023 title, a feat they haven’t accomplished in three seasons. The “El Classico” match on the nineteenth of March was the final shot for Real Madrid to challenge Barcelona in the standings. Real Madrid lost 2-1 in the dying minutes of the game, further increasing the gap between the two rivals. Barcelona will have to face the teams currently ranked third, fourth, and fifth in April. Real Madrid could still feasibly steal the throne from Barcelona, though it will certainly be an uphill climb.
Juventus dominated Italian Serie A for years, winning the league for nine consecutive seasons between 2011-2012 and 2019-2020. However, Serie A has changed in the past years with teams like AC Milan and Inter Milan regaining strength and challenging Juventus. This year, Serie A will see a new champion: FC Napoli. Napoli sits comfortably at the top of the league nineteen points above Lazio Rome. Napoli has not won the Serie A since the 1990 and their dominance would have been unthought of at the start of this season. Napoli let go of their two top goal scorers of all time in Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne last offseason. They also lost midfielder Fabian Ruiz to PSG and defender Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea, two key players in past seasons. However, they made very intelligent signings like Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Min-jae Kim, and Zambo Anguissa. These three players were signed for less than 50 million euros and Napoli’s decision has more than paid off. The electric performance of the Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia duo is one reason for their success. However, it is the overall beautifully orchestrated team led by manager Luciano Spalletti that has made Napoli so dominant. The team is not only doing well in terms of results, but have been an absolutely thrilling team to watch from a supporter’s standpoint. With that comfortable lead, Napoli is set to lift the scudetto in 2023.
The English Premier League
In spite of Manchester City’s titles, the Premier League is still the most exciting and competitive league in the world featuring some of football’s most talented players and managers. Arsenal is currently leading the Premier League with 8 more points than second place Manchester City, which has one less game played. It was hard to imagine Arsenal being atop the table at the start of this season, considering they have struggled just to make the top four since the 2015-2016 season.
This is a very impressive accomplishment for manager Mikel Arteta, who has been betting on young players since starting at the club. Arsenal has the youngest squad in the Premier League with an average age of just 24.7 years. Arsenal made excellent signings of young prospects like Martin Ødegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Magalhães, Ben White, and even Aaron Ramsdale. They have likewise bet on players coming up from the academy that have developed into young stars, like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe. What seemed like a work in progress last year has developed into a young, focused, and thrilling team. The team also made strategic moves to sign young but experienced players like Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko in the summer of last year. Arsenal still has to play eleven games with one being Manchester City. The Citizens certainly have the emotional advantage and the squad depth to go and seize another Premier League trophy. However, Arsenal have been decisive against the other well ranked teams in the league. They won four games out of six against the top five ranked teams and have been clutch in key games. The only question now is if will they maintain this level of play until the end of the season.
Barcelona will likely win the Spanish trophy and Napoli will surely win their first Serie A title in over 30 years. PSG should win in France, but Marseille has a chance to end their hegemony. In Germany, the title race will be played until the final games of the season and the upcoming “Der Klassiker” will go a long way in telling us who the champion will likely be. In the Premier League, the matches will only become more intense, including the key contest at the top of the table – Manchester City against Arsenal. We might just see Arsenal win the league for the first time since the 2003-2004 season. The European season has overall been exhilarating and surprising, with mainstays like PSG and Barcelona set to retain their crown, and underdogs like Arsenal, Napoli, and Dortmund primed to make their mark on their league’s history.