Football Features

Juventus set to rewrite record books: The state of play in Europe’s major leagues as squeaky bum time is upon us

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:09, 12 April 2019

Sir Alex Ferguson called it “squeaky bum time” – the final moments of a season.

This weekend, after the first legs of this season’s Champions League quarter-finals were played and with spring underway, two of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues should be decided.

Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus are no strangers to silverware but the sheer grip they’ve got on their respective competitions is breathtaking. Still, to wrap it up before Easter is something else. Fortunately, it’s not the case in two of those aforementioned major leagues, as well as in Portugal and the Netherlands.

So, with only a few weeks left before everything is said and done we’ve taken a look at the state of play.

La Liga

Combatants (points): Barcelona (73)

Matchweeks remaining: 7

Do we have a title race? Unless something incredible was to happen, the answer is no. Barcelona, with seven matches left, need to pick up at least ten more points and that is dependant on Atlético Madrid – who are 11 points back – winning all of their remaining fixtures which includes home games against Valencia (6th) and Sevilla (5th).

But going back to champions-elect Barça, they only have to face two clubs currently in the top ten, Alavés (7th) and Getafe (4th). Although those matches take place away from the Camp Nou you’d expect Ernesto Valverde’s men to not have too many problems.

Premier League

Combatants (points): Liverpool (82) and Manchester City (80)

Matchweeks remaining: 5

Do we have a title race? Absolutely. This is shaping up to be a close one. Liverpool, chasing a first championship since 1990, presently lead Manchester City by two points but Pep Guardiola’s men – the defending champions – have a game in hand which is at Old Trafford.

There are no easy games in the Premier League, where on a given day any side can beat another, but looking at their remaining fixtures City have some juicy matches to contest, not just the aforementioned Manchester derby but a visit from Spurs whom they are currently locking horns with in the Champions League.

As for Liverpool there’s a small matter of a visit from Chelsea this weekend but after that only Wolves, who they play on the final day, are presently found in the top half of the table.

Serie A

Combatants (points): Juventus (84)

Matchweeks remaining: 7

Do we have a title race? Sadly not. It should be done and dusted this weekend. Napoli et al. tried so hard but in the end Juventus remain Italian football’s undisputed numero uno. Massimiliano Allegri’s men should confirm a record eighth Serie A championship in a row this weekend.

All that is required is them leaving relegation-threatened SPAL with just a point. History will then be made, as no team across Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues has ever managed an eight-peat.

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Bundesliga

Combatants (points): Bayern Munich (64) and Borussia Dortmund (63)

Matchweeks remaining: 6

Do we have a title race? Yes. Borussia Dortmund are down but not out. That humbling 5-0 loss at championship rivals Bayern Munich would have stung but there’s just a point between them with six matches to play. Lucien Favre, though, must be wary that momentum is not on their side. Bayern have picked up 16 points (five wins and one draw) from their last six matches played whilst BVB across that same period have collected 12 (four wins and two defeats).

Both teams have some interesting games coming up; Bayern visit RB Leipzig (3rd) and welcome Eintracht Frankfurt (4th) in their final two games whilst BVB host Revierderby foes Schalke 04 (14th) at the end of this month before traveling to Borussia Mönchengladbach (5th) on final day.

Ligue 1

Combatants (points): Paris Saint-Germain (81)

Matchweeks remaining: 7

Do we have a title race? Nope. Paris Saint-Germain have well and truly restored the new order. Monaco’s surprise championship triumph in 2017 now feels like a distant memory. The acquisition of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, from the The Monégasques, ensured French football’s biggest prize returned north.

No one has been close to Thomas Tuchel’s men, who have played a game fewer after their visit to Nantes was rearranged, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the gap they’ve built between themselves and the rest, a point at Lille this weekend is enough to be first among equals.

Primeira Liga

Combatants (points): Benfica (69) and FC Porto (69)

Matchweeks remaining: 6

Do we have a title race? We sure do. Benfica and FC Porto, who have shared the last 16 championships in Portugal, are locked on the same number of points (69) with six matches left in the season. Benfica, with their superior goal-difference (+53), have the crown in their hands.

Both teams have reasonable fixtures coming up, though all eyes will be on Braga (4th) vs Benfica in late April and FC Porto vs. Sporting CP (3th) on the last weekend. Speaking of Sporting, they are eight points behind the leaders, not a sizeable gap but it’s hard to fathom them making it up.

Eredivisie

Combatants (points): Ajax (71) and PSV Eindhoven (71)

Matchweeks remaining: 5

Do we have a title race? Ja! Like in the Portuguese top-flight, the ‘big two’ – Ajax and PSV Eindhoven – are level on points but with five games to go. PSV, though, should be kicking themselves. If they had left Amsterdam with all three points, following the last international break, their lead would have been eight points with 21 left to play for. Ajax’s impressive goal-difference of +74, nine better than PSV, puts them in the driving seat.

Potential banana skins for both teams come in the final weeks as Ajax face Vitesse (7th) and FC Utrecht (5th) at home with a trip to De Graafschap (16) – where it all went wrong for them on the final day of the 2015/16 campaign – sandwiched in between. PSV, meanwhile, entertain Heracles Almelo (6th) and visit AZ (4th) in the final two weekends.

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