With the opening phase of the campaign coming to an end, we see which teams can achieve their goals this season. And if the defending champions of each league have to work harder to defend the title.
We’ve had a fascinating start to the year in France. PSG is locked in a fight with Büyük at the top of Ligue 1. While many attribute September to Mbappe and his side’s only defeat of the season, the South Coast side currently sit top of the league undefeated.
Having lost Neymar and Lionel Messi in the summer, PSG is struggling to dominate the league as usual. When two players at this level leave the club in advance, there is bound to be a transition period. Their Champions League campaign also got off to a slow start. In their first match away from home, they lost 4-0 to Newcastle.
There is a similar story in Italy. Napoli’s form, which won the Scudetto for the first time in 30 years last season, has suffered a major decline. In the summer, coach Luciano Spalletti resigned to take over the team after leading the Italian national team to victory. Of course, it is very unusual for a country’s champions to lose their coach immediately. Club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis quickly appointed one, and he did so alongside Rudi Garcia, former coach of Riyadh club Al-Nassr.
Nima Roodsari, host of the Italian Football Podcast, explained why these recruitments have backfired for Napoli so far.
“He changed Napoli’s style of play, which was to their detriment,” Nima said.
“I think this season Serie A will be a two-man race between Milan and Inter. I would say they are the favourites, and everyone would agree that they are the favorites to win the league.”
In Germany, Bayern Munich won 11 matches in a row in the Bundesliga. However, Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen have made a good start to this season and look like they can mount a strong challenge for their title.
Alonso became manager in 2018 after an incredibly successful playing career. During his time at clubs such as Real Madrid, Liverpool and Bayern, the former Spain international has worked under great managers.
His first managerial job at hometown club Real Sociedad caught the attention of many people. He is currently making a solid impression in Germany.
La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter told Football Now why Alonso could one day return to any big club he has played for.
“He always knew he wanted to be a coach. So when you reach the end of your playing career, you start to prepare yourself mentally. You start to look at things from a different perspective and ask different questions to the managers you work with.”
“He has such a great football mind that many believe he is a manager of Real Madrid. The timing could be perfect at the end of the season, Carlo Ancelotti’s contract will expire and he will take charge of Brazil. However, if Liverpool leaves Jürgen “There’s also a lot of talk that Klopp will deal with him instead.” Semra explained.
In Spain, Barcelona also had trouble in form after winning the league for the first time in 4 years last season. However, it is their local rivals Girona who are making the headlines. The team, usually mid-table, currently sits top of La Liga after 12 matches, suffering only the previous defeat.
“They are owned by City Group, which also owns Manchester City, which allows them to tap into Manchester City’s scouting pool and is something they do very well. This season is a perfect demonstration of that.”
But it’s business as usual for Manchester City in England. After winning the treble last season, Pep Guardiola’s team stumbled a bit at the start of this season. In October, they lost back-to-back league matches for the first time since 2018. However, they managed to recover and returned to the top of the league.
Several teams are waiting to attack if they make a mistake. One of these is Tottenham Hotspur, which exceeded all expectations under the management of new coach Ange Postecoğlu. When they lost star striker Harry Kane in the summer, some feared it would be a long season for Spurs. However, Heung-Min Son’s form and the impact of new signing James Maddison have made fans believe that the team can achieve big things this season.
So things are getting tough for PSG, Napoli, Barça and Bayern. It’s been a dramatic season so far, and there’s undoubtedly more to come. As we enter the busy winter period, the games will come thick and fast and the landscape can change in the blink of an eye. Let’s see if Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur can maintain their championship form.