This season has been weird. Let’s make no bones about it. We always knew that was going to be the case but some of the results we have seen across Europe have been downright bizarre.
What that has led to, as we enter the first international break, is one of the most open playing fields in European football in recent memory.
Of course the big clubs are still outspending the rest by a farcical, and frankly disgusting, amount but the smaller teams are trying to capitalise on an opportunity.
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That leaves us with the chance that we might see not just one but potentially multiple Leicester Cities across Europe. A team that disrupts the established status quo.
And even if we don’t see new league champions we almost certainly will see some new teams in the Champions League next season. That should make everyone happy, just the idea of how anxious that will make the big clubs.
Let’s take a across Europe at some of the bigger leagues in Europe and potential upsets.

Premier League

Hoo boy where do we start here. We’ll come to the OGs Leicester in a little bit. Let’s start with Aston Villa, the team who produced arguably the headline result across the entirety of Europe when they stuck eight past defending champions Liverpool.
If Villa can win their game in hand, They would currently sit top of the table, They currently have the best defensive record in the league and third-best attacking record. Dean Smith has made a host of intelligent signings alongside Christian Purslow and Johan Lange. Of course keeping Jack Grealish was a huge plus and his decision to stay is more than vindicated. Villa are building off the Leicester model, putting together a group of players that click perfectly and have the intensity to unsettle the established elite.

Jack Grealish

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Speaking of Leicester, the Foxes are currently top of the table despite losing to the aforementioned Villa and the bizarre 3-0 reverse at home to West Ham. Leicester have never moved away from what made them successful, trying to find gaps in the market by mixing together young English players with cheaper European stars. Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne look like perfect Leicester players and even with the Europa League would you bet against them?
Southampton and Everton are the final two who have really shocked people this year. Danny Ings and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are both playing the best football of their careers and they’re perfectly supplemented by playmakers such as James Ward-Prowse and James Rodriguez. The Saints beat the Toffees earlier in the season but both have heavy defeats (to Spurs and Manchester United respectively) that raise some doubts. But without European football why couldn’t they go on a run?
Finally don’t necessarily count out Spurs. Yes they’re one of the ‘Big Six’ but they were firmly in sixth coming into this season in most people’s minds. If they were to win the league, and there’s no reason they couldn’t, that would certainly constitute a big shock.

La Liga

La Liga is always going to be a little weirder. Unlike the Premier League, where five or six clubs dominate financially, or Serie A, the Bundesliga or Ligue 1 where it’s more of a monopoly, Spain is dominated by a duopoly.
Between them Real Madrid and Barcelona have won 17 of the last 20 Liga titles, but this year might signal a change. Both of the giants have games in hand but they are already off the pace, having lost two games each. Remember when they were so dominant that might constitute an entire season?
Of the contenders Real Sociedad and Villarreal have looked the strongest so far. Sociedad have coped well with the early loss of Martin Odegaard and Unai Emery’s reputation rebuild is off to a terrific start. Both sides will have to contend with the rigours of the Europa League this season but the early indicators are that neither Real or Barca are anywhere close to finding their stride right now.
The other team to watch is Atletico Madrid. 2019-20 was a bit of a down year for Atletico and Diego Simeone, and it led to some speculation over the manager’s future with the team. Simeone and his charges have re-tooled over the summer and the team seems reinvigorated thanks to the arrival of Luis Suarez. Their games would not only take them top, but take them three points clear to boot. Might this be the year it all comes together again for Atletico?

Diego Simeone

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This might be the league where this hypothesis least applies. Bayern Munich are the European champions and despite that blip against Hertha Berlin they remain two points ahead of the pack.
However such is the disparity of competition in Germany that any other team winning the Bundesliga would be a huge shock. In that regard RB Leipzig (who are coping admirably without Timo Werner), Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen are all keeping pace there or thereabouts.

Christopher Nkunku, buteur face au PSG avec Leipzig

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The problem these teams are probably going to encounter is the sheer ruthlessness and efficiency of Bayern. It’s going to be a tall order for anyone to catch this juggernaut but if it’s going to happen this should be the year.

Serie A

Juventus can certainly match Bayern in terms of the longevity of their dominance but unlike their Bavarian counterparts the cracks in Turin were starting to appear last season. Those cracks have widened slightly under new boss Andrea Pirlo and other teams have leapt at their opportunity.

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The surprise pace-setters so far have been AC Milan, led by the indomitable Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Sassuolo, Napoli, Roma, Atalanta and Inter Milan are also amongst the sides putting the pressure on Pirlo.
Now of course the Milan teams, Roma and even Napoli are historically big sides but still their winning the league would be something of a shock. In fact for AC Milan they have been such a shambles since their last league title that this season, which follows off the back of their final end to the campaign prior,

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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The best of the rest

In France Lille, Rennes, Marseille and Lyon have all started the season well but it’s still hard to see anyone being capable of dethroning PSG.
It’s a similar case in the Netherlands where Ajax and PSV have lost just one game each so far. The storyline to keep an eye on though could be Vitesse, who are matching Ajax stride for stride thus far.
Portugal’s Big Three has very much become a Big Two in recent years, with Benfica and Porto sharing every title since 2003. But Sporting are undefeated thus far and sit top of the table, with Braga currently second. Change might be afoot there.
And finally it looks as if this might finally be the season where Rangers get back on top in Scotland. There’s a long way to go but the signs are promising for Steven Gerrard’s brave boys.
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