European soccer is beginning to take shape. Most of the leagues in Europe have already restarted play. However, we wait on the English Premier League (EPL) to resume this Wednesday, the 17th. Perhaps the most anticipated league to restart, the EPL rolls out two games on Wednesday and the rest of their games on the weekend.
With the Spanish League (La Liga) resuming last weekend and the German League (Bundesliga) already playing games for over a month now. Let’s take a look at how Europe’s major soccer leagues stand to bring back the beautiful game. It’s important to note that all of these games are being played or plan on being played behind closed doors.
SPAIN (La Liga)
La Liga returned this past weekend, with the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona cruising to victories. It was refreshing to see such a competitive level of soccer, after such a long hiatus. This isn’t a shot at the German League. When soccer restarted in Germany, there seemed to be a lack of energy. La Liga showed none of this as they got back into the swing of things. Some guy named Lionel Messi scored in his very first game back and added two assists as well. Real Madrid scored three goals in less than 45 minutes. You could say there was no lack of energy and enthusiasm.
The plan is that La Liga will try to finish its season by the end of July. Games will be played at a more rapid pace, given the amount of lost time this season. Teams will be competing roughly every three or four days. Player rotation will be key and managing team fitness will be taken with more precautions than ever. That being said, two teams will be taking the rest of the season more serious than anyone.
Even if you don’t watch La Liga, you should know who these teams are. Barcelona and Real Madrid. A rivalry unlike any other. El Clásico. Blaugrana versus Los Blancos. Call it what you want it. Barcelona currently owns a two-point lead. The teams are not scheduled to play each other in the remaining games, but not dropping points would seem to be impossible. Buckle up and tune in people, we have a title race.
There is no title race in Germany. No dramatic finish involved. No crazy rivalry or hatred that will determine the league. Bayern Munich won their eighth consecutive league title earlier today. Yes, you heard that correctly, eight. The boys from Munich have been German Champions since 2013, where’s the fun in that.
It might be unfair to talk about the Bundesliga like this. It has been the only soccer on for about a month. Even though I thought at the beginning of it, the play was a little bit lethargic and unenergetic. I’m still grateful that it came back so early. There was a title race at the beginning between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Bayern took care of Dortmund 1-0 in their showdown earlier this month. Bayern slipped away from everyone’s grasp, like they always do and will be celebrating (while being socially distant) all week. Is Bayern Munich the best team in Europe right now? Yes, I really think they are.
Italy/France (Serie A/Ligue 1)
I decided to merge this one together since I feel like these two leagues are easier to condense. For any weird reason if these are your two favorite leagues, my apologies. We can start with France first. France is honestly super easy. The French league (Ligue 1) is already concluded. There was no restart or return to training. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) where crowned champions for the third year in a row. Sports were not deemed eligible to come back in France, and that is why Ligue 1 was terminated. Ligue 1’s next season may start sooner than other European leagues, since they have been off for so long. Anyways, congrats PSG.
Italy is a little bit more difficult. Technically the Italian League (Serie A) doesn’t officially restart until this Saturday, the 20th. However, four Italian teams resumed play last week in their cup semifinals, which is a different competition within Italy. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus currently are in first place. Only one point back from them are Lazio, the light blue team from Rome. The end of the season in Italy should be fascinating. It should be noted that Juventus and Lazio are set to face off July 20th, in a game that could decide the league. Viva Italia!
England (English Premier League)
Ah, yes. The world’s greatest and most competitive league. The EPL comes back into action tomorrow. What is the state of the league?
Liverpool have run away with the league and now hold more than a 20-point gap. They should clinch their first Premier League title soon, assuming they pick up where they left off. There’s much to be excited about in the red part of Merseyside.
What is there to look forward to if Liverpool is so far ahead of everyone else?
The Champions League places are heating up and the race for these are tight. The third and fourth place teams in the EPL qualify for the Champions League next year. The likes of Leicester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton, and Sheffield United are all realistically battling it out for these Champions League places. It should be beautiful to watch all these teams competing the next month and a half.
My heart does go out to the Liverpool fans who won’t be able to see their club hoist the trophy in person, considering every match will be played behind closed doors. Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson said, “Of course it would feel different because if you win any trophy and receive it without any fans there, it would be pretty strange.”
Let’s just enjoy this week with all the leagues resuming play, minus France. The dominoes are starting to fall and although there won’t be enraged fans yelling at each other in those classic English stands. It’s all starting to come together, one European league at a time.