Football Features

When do each of Europe’s top five leagues start their 2020/21 season?

By Harry Edwards

2020/21 season: Start date & fixtures for Europe's top five football leagues

Published: 13:30, 28 August 2020

Fans may still be recovering from the Champions League and Europa League knockout stages, but for many attention has now turned to the 2020/21 season.

The delayed finish of Europe’s top five leagues, or curtailment in Ligue 1’s case, meant that there was initial uncertainty surrounding 2020/21. When would it start? How long would the break between seasons be? How would the season work with the European Championships set to take place next summer? When would the fixtures be released? And so many other questions.

As we edge closer to the start of the 2020/21 campaign, the leagues are starting to reveal fixture lists, with the Premier League recently announcing the schedule for the season.

But when will the Premier League, and the rest of Europe’s top five leagues, actually start their respective 2020/21 seasons?

Premier League

Start date: 12 September 2020
End date: 23 May 2021

After what felt like months of anticipation, the Premier League confirmed the 2020/21 fixtures on August 21, having already confirmed the dates of the campaign.

Kicking off on September 12, just over a month after the 2019/20 season ended, the Premier League will be running until Sunday May 23, 2021 – which would be 19 days before the European Championships are scheduled to start. There is also no clear winter break this year, though gameweek 18 will be split into two separate midweek rounds.

As everyone will still remember, Liverpool go into the season as defending champions and open against Championship winners Leeds United – a baptism of fire on their return to the top flight. Elsewhere, newly-promoted Fulham host Arsenal in a London derby, Tottenham face Everton and Chelsea are away to Brighton.

Both Manchester City and Manchester United have seen their opening games postponed, due to their involvement in the latter stages of the European competitions.

La Liga

Start date: 12 September 2020
End date: 23 May 2021

Like the Premier League, La Liga also starts on September 12, 2020 and ends on May 23, 2021.

Fans are still waiting to hear what games will open the season, with La Liga yet to release their fixtures, though they are expected before the end of August.

Real Madrid go into the new season as champions having won the league comfortably despite going into the restart behind Barcelona – who could have another new manager by the time the season starts. The duo, and the likes of Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, and Sevilla are joined by Cadiz, Huesca and Elche who were promoted from the Segunda Division.

They will replace Espanyol, Real Mallorca and Leganes, who were relegated at the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

Bundesliga

Start date: 18 September 2020
End date: 22 May 2021

Despite being the first of Europe’s top five leagues to resume post-lockdown, the Bundesliga won’t actually start until a week after La Liga and the Premier League, on 18 September. But the season will still end on the same weekend, a benefit of the Bundesliga having fewer teams than the rest of Europe’s top five leagues.

The Bundesliga has also already published the fixture list for the 2020/21 campaign, with champions Bayern Munich hosting Schalke on the opening weekend – expected to be on Monday 21st due to their Champions League triumph.

There is also an intriguing match between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach on the opening weekend, while Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig host Mainz. The first meeting between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will be between 6-8 November, while the return match is scheduled for 5-8 March.

Arminia Bielefeld and VfB Stuttgart are the new boys in the Bundesliga, with Fortuna Dusseldorf and Paderborn getting relegated last term. Werder Bremen kept their place in the top flight after beating Heidenheim in the relegation play-offs on away goals.

Serie A

Start date: 19 September 2020
End date: 23 May 2021

Following the Bundesliga, Serie A will also start one week later than the Premier League and La Liga, on 19 September. The competition is scheduled to end on 23 May, 2021.

However, fans are still waiting for the actual fixtures to be announced, though there has been no date scheduled for that yet.

Juventus are once again champions but have their third manager in as many seasons, with Andrea Pirlo replacing Maurizio Sarri in his first managerial role. This may give confidence to the likes of Inter Milan, Lazio and Atalanta, all of whom finished in the top four last season.

Benevento, Crotone and Spezia are the three confirmed promoted sides from Serie B. SPAL, Brescia and Lecce were all relegated last season.

Ligue 1

Start date: 21 August 2020
End date: 23 May 2021

Unlike the rest of Europe’s top five leagues, Ligue 1 did not continue their 2019/20 campaign after lockdown, with it being curtailed on April 28.

Paris Saint-Germain were awarded the title, having been 12 points clear of Marseille at the top, while Amiens and Toulouse were relegated and the relegation play-offs were cancelled. Lorient and Lens will now replace Amiens and Toulouse in the top flight.

The early curtailment of the league means that Ligue 1 was the first of Europe’s top five divisions to return for 2020/21. Bordeaux and Nantes kicked off the campaign with a goalless draw, with Lille, Rennes and Monaco were also involved across the weekend – again, all drawing. But not every team was involved in the opening weekend. Marseille’s game with St-Etienne was postponed due to coronavirus, while PSG and Lyon’s fixtures were also moved, due to their involvement in the latter stages of the 2019/20 Champions League.

Despite the early start, Ligue 1 will finish in line with the rest of Europe’s top five leagues, on 23 May 2021.

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