La Liga is not as 2-sided as we always think
At the start of every European football season, the only mystery that really needs to be solved is whether Real Madrid or Barcelona will win the league title. It’s still the one stick with which fans of other leagues use to beat fans of La Liga with, the lack of competition at the top of the log. In the 15 complete seasons since the turn of the millennium, Real Madrid and Barcelona account for 12 league titles. After 35 rounds, Barcelona in first and Real Madrid in 3rd place are separated by a single point. So much for the lack of competition in La Liga, this is turning out to be one of the closest title challenges of the 21st century.
Leicester have one hand on the trophy
The expectation was that with the confirmation of Jamie Vardy’s absence for 1 game or more, Leicester City’s title charge may falter but they responded with a dominant 4-0 victory against a lacklustre Swansea. In all honesty, since Guidolin took over from Gary Monk, Swansea have steered clear from the relegation fight and are now safe so a Leicester win wasn’t unexpected, however for those who aren’t quite so happy to see Leicester win a league the disappointment was in the way the Swans made it an easy afternoon for Leicester. With 3 games to go and an 8 point lead, Spurs play West Brom on Monday Night Football, it’s really difficult to see how they could lose it from here. To further illustrate Leicester’s dominance of the English Premier League this season the side had 6 candidates for the annual Player of the Year award, which was handed to Ryad Mahrez.
Bayern Munich on the Brink
Borussia Dortmund have done very well to come back from Jurgen Klopp’s disastrous final season at the club, it at least has ensured that the Bundesliga doesn’t become a procession for months. However 6 wins out of 6 league games has seen Bayern Munich flex their Bavarian muscle and now lead by 6 points with 3 games to go. Not insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination, however it’s very unlikely the current champions and European semi-finalists will drop points in all 3 of those games. In reality the chasing pack have already given them the initiative. It’s merely a formality now for FC Hollywood in what will be Guardiola’s last games as the manager of the club.
Di Maria delivers in French League Cup Final
This time last year Angel Di Maria sat on the bench of Manchester United while Marouane Fellaini played as a roaming attacking midfielder in Louis Van Gaal’s philosophy. This, to me, was the equivalent of anti-football, crimes against football, a complete abomination. It would have been very easy to ask yourself what the 59.7million pound hype was about but Di Maria has himself come out publically and stated that a lack of stability on and off the field that led to his brief stay at Manchester United. In his first 4 months alone he mentioned that he had played as central midfielder, as a wide midfielder, as a forward and even as a striker and regardless of his output in any position the only constant was that he would be played in a different position the following game. Since being freed from the chains of LVG’s philosophy Angel Di Maria has lit up the French League and often performed well in PSG’s run to the Quarter Finals of the Uefa Champions League. Over the weekend he also delivered the final blow to Lille in the French League Cup Final, whilst PSG also won the French League by a record margin of 27 points. This is the Angel Di Maria who delivered a Man of the Match performance in the Uefa Champions League Final of 2013.
Juventus WILL win Serie A
The race for the scudetto has been anything but a formality. Max Allegri had taken over from the current Italy manager, Antonio Conte, who had overseen a dominant period of success. He has a right to claim that it was his work and his team that saw Juventus finish as runners up in the Uefa Champions League last season. The season started with 3 paltry wins in 10 games, while Napoli set the pace at the head of the table. After round 10, Juventus sat in 12th place in Serie A however they have dropped points once in a draw meaning they’ve won 24 of the 25 games since. A run of form that has seen them in a position to wrap up Serie A on Monday 25 April if Napoli fail to beat Roma at the Olympic Stadium. This will also be the 5th title on the run. The Old (Fat) Lady of Italian Football will be singing for her rival clubs it’s not a matter of if but when.
“Andile Qokweni is hoping to be a regular contributor on the GritSport blog, he is an expert on arm-chair criticism and spends most of his free time watching sport on his couch and forcing his opinions on others.”