With the half way point of the season here, the leagues usually start to take shape however, the top of these structures in the top 5 leagues right now are not what we have been accustomed to in recent years. Apart from Bayern Munich none of the teams on top of these leagues were considered favourites coming into the season. Even though they do top the Bundesliga, Bayern have looked very unconvincing in their performances and it showed on Wednesday night when they got knocked out of the DFB Pokal by 2. Bundesliga side Holstien Kiel in the second round. Even in the league they are looking not as strong as they did last season.
A major factor for these aberrations this season is the fatigue experienced by the players. The last season ended a lot later than it was planned due to the coronavirus pandemic and gave players a lot less rest than they usually got. Teams like Milan who didn’t play in the European competitions late last season have taken advantage of this while Lyon gained more rest than the UCL runner ups Paris Saint Germain. In the leagues themselves, Atletico Madrid has played 2 games less than their fellow Spanish Giants which has accounted for significantly more rest.
Fall from Grace
Several of the ‘big’ clubs have been inconsistent and underwhelming. Real Madrid have dependent heavily on Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema. Without a convincing performance from them Real has looked easy to break down. While FC Barcelona are still facing the consequences of arguably their worst season ever. Though they have improved in the past weeks their is a long way to go for them.
The absence of Sergio Aguero and Virgil Van Djik for a chunk of the season has clearly affected their respective clubs. Also, City’s defensive woes prior to the signing of Ruben Dias has shown in their position on the table. While Liverpool has been constantly struck by injuries from Diogo Jota to Allison.
Juventus and Bayern Munich both have looked weaker than previous selves with the departure of their respective mid-field engines Miralem Pjanic and Thiago Alacantra. Both of these players have also not quite found their feet in their new clubs. Bayern Munich particularly have looked very vulnerable in their defense. Their play style of keeping a high line has been exploited several times already this season and could prove fatal in their dreams of winning back to back Champions Leagues.
boost in Performances
Although the factors above contributed to these teams not being at the top, credit has to be given to the current league toppers. With both Real Madrid and Barcelona enduring not the greatest of seasons, Atletico have sprung on the chance to run away with the title. Luis Suarez and Diego Simeone was a match made in football heaven, you throw in Joao Felix into the mix and you have a world class attacking partnership. The Rojiblacos’ defensive prowess was renowned all over the world but with a more controlling mid field and a pacey bullish attack, Atletico are tearing the La Liga apart team by team.
AC Milan have had one of the biggest turnarounds in football history. Once a force to be reckoned with, Milan lost their status as a top club by the time Massimiliano Allegri was sacked in 2014 and with each passing season their comeback was looking more difficult. But under Stefano Pioli Milan are looking like the strongest club in Italy even in front of the Cristiano Ronaldo led Juventus. The immortal Zlatan Ibrahimovich is scoring goals like he is still 29 and a mid field of Sandro Tonali, Hakan Calhanoglu and Franck Kessie are bossing every team they face and Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli have proven to be a brick wall with Gianluigi Donnarumma playing well beyond his years.
Ol Lyon and Manchester United are finally making good use of their squads. Ole has found a savior in Bruno Fernandes who has uplifted the entire squad to play better football and is right now their highest goal scorer, assist provider and shot taker in the Premier League. While Memphis Depay, Karl Toko Ekambi and Houssem Auoar have upped their game even more to give Lyon a 1 point lead over reigning champions PSG.