What’s Left To Be Decided in Europe’s Big 5 This Season?
May is a wonderful time for football fans, with the continent’s greatest leagues and cup competitions all reaching their apex. And that’s without mentioning Europe’s elite club tournaments — namely the Champions League, Europa and Europa Conference League’s — all climaxing this month. Alright, we’ll admit, some things have been foregone conclusions for a while now. Bayern Munich sealed their tenth consecutive Bundesliga crown on April 23rd, PSG wrapped up Ligue 1 on the same day and Carlo Ancelotti celebrated Real Madrid’s La Liga success a week later.
Those triumphs are hardly the greatest underdog stories in football history, which PokerStars have kindly compiled, but there was doubt midway through the season as to whether or not both PSG and Real could lift their respective league titles. But even with those three foregone conclusions aside, there is still plenty to play for across Europe’s top five countries. Let’s take a look at what’s still to play for across the continent.
There is plenty left to be decided in England. Only two of the top five leagues in Europe have their top league yet to be determined. Liverpool and Manchester City are separated by just one point as the title race reaches the chequered flag. And then there is the small matter of The Reds’ quadruple challenge, the League Cup is already in the Anfield trophy cabinet, and they’re in the Champions League final and the FA Cup final, alongside their Premier League trophy hunt. City will still be reeling from their stunning collapse against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, and it would take a brave man to bet against Jurgen Klopp’s side from achieving the unthinkable. The top four is also up for grabs, and it looks like North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs are in pole position to seal Champions League football next season. At the other end of the table, Norwich and Watford have already exited through the trap door, with Everton, Leeds and Burnley all fighting to avoid the same fate.
Let’s not also forget the richest match in football, the EFL Championship playoff final. Either Huddersfield Town, Luton Town, Sheffield United or Nottingham Forest will be the worthy winners of an estimated £135m and a place amongst English football’s elite next season.
The other league yet to be decided is the home of the Euro 2020 champions. AC Milan and their city rivals Inter are battling it out for the scudetto, with the archenemies also separated by just two points with just two games remaining. The top four places are all claimed, with Napoli and Juventus joining the Milan clubs and sealing their places in Europe’s elite club competition next season. The Europa League places look set to be headed to the Stadio Olimpico, with both Lazio and Roma in the hot seats to compete in Europe’s secondary competition next year. Juve will also contest the Coppa Italia final against Inter in what is sure to be a fiery Derby d’Italia. None of the relegation places are yet to be decided, with any three of Venezia, Genoa, Salernitana, Cagliari and Sampdoria set to face the drop. And finally, there is Jose Mourinho and his Giallorossi gladiators, who will face Feyenoord in the Europa Conference League final, giving the legendary Portuguese manager his chance to become the first and only man in football history to lift all three major European trophies.
LaLiga is already safely tucked in the Santiago Bernabeu, and another certain Big-Eared trophy may also be heading to Madrid at the end of May when they face Liverpool in Paris. Real Betis have claimed the Copa Del Rey, with 40-year old captain and icon Joaquin scoring the winning penalty to defeat Valencia on penalties, their first trophy in 17 years. Betis may also claim a place in next year’s Champions League, they’re 3 points behind outgoing champions Atletico, with Real Sociedad also hot on their heels. Barcelona look set to end the season as runners-up to Los Blancos, securing a return to the Champions League after exiting at the group stage last season.
At the other end of the table, Alaves and Levante look set to be dropping down to the second tier next season. For the third relegation zone spot, four teams are separated by just five points with three games remaining, with one of Mallorca, Cadiz, Granada and Getafe also facing the chop.
The biggest shock in Germany has already happened, with Bayern Munich lifting the Bundesliga against all odds. On a serious note, the DFB Pokal is where the true excitement is at. The big guns fell early, with league champions Bayern exiting in the second round courtesy of a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach. Freiburg and RB Leipzig will contest the final, and one of the two will lift their first-ever major trophy on May 21st.
Die Roten Bullen also missed out on a chance to reach their first-ever major European final, falling to Scottish champions Rangers at Ibrox in the Europa League semifinal. Their countrymen Eintracht Frankfurt will have a chance at seeking German revenge, they will contest the Seville showpiece after defeating West Ham United to reach their first European final in over 40 years.
Greuther Furth and Arminia Bielefeld are already relegated, with either Stuttgat or Hertha Berlin joining them in the 2. Bundesliga next season.
Okay, maybe the biggest shock wasn’t in the Bundesliga, maybe it was given to us by the underwhelming performances of Messi following his departure from Barcelona. Although PSG did win the title, it was hardly a stellar season for the Argentine. Meanwhile, Marseille have qualified for next year’s Champions League and either Rennes, Monaco or Nice will join them on the continent in a few months’ time. Nice will also contest the Coupe De France final against Nantes after the champion Parisians fell on penalties to Christophe Galtier’s men in the last 16.