Matthew D’Souza –
As Football Leagues around the world approach their halfway mark, the unpredictable nature of the sport remains as certain as ever!
English Premier League
As always, the English Premier League has been entertaining as last season’s champions Leicester City FC is lounging at the 15th place in the League.
The Club was unbeaten in the European Football Premier Tournament, until humbled by FC Porto 5-0 in Porto.
The Pole position is currently occupied by Chelsea FC which has registered marked improvement after its dismal performance last season. New Manager Antonio Conte deserves credit for this improvement; His high standards of discipline and rigorous training sessions continue to improve the Club’s ability to make a comeback.
Chelsea holds a commanding lead; it is now six points clear of Liverpool FC, now placed second. The Reds Manager Jürgen Klopp has overseen Liverpool’s fortunes improve since he took over the role more than a year ago, and the team has the chance to return to the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier Tournament.
Four points off Liverpool is Manchester City which had a great start but a string of wasteful performances cost the team its pole position.
The Club now occupies the third position in the League.
Arsenal ironically occupies the fourth and last Champions League qualification spot.
However, there is still time for things to change.
Tottenham Hotspur was once a point behind Arsenal but the Spurs had a poor Champions League campaign and hence failed to qualify for Round 16. The team will take on KAA Gent in their next fixture.
Manchester United spent heavily on a few new players, but in vain as the Red Devils are sixth in the Premier league and are set to face Saint-Etienne in the Europa League round of 16.
UEFA Champions League
The group stage of 2016-2017 Edition of the Champions League was unpredictable and exciting as always with some clubs from smaller leagues upsetting the heavyweights of European football with unexpected group winners.
The draw for the Round 16 took place on December 13, 2016 and there are some exciting fixtures for football fans in the New Year.
The most exciting would be Bayern Munich vs Arsenal, Barcelona vs PSG and Napoli vs Real Madrid. All these teams play at the highest level of their respective Leagues and are among the top clubs in Europe.
The Club was the Group Winner with Real Madrid as the Runner Up.
La Liga Tables and Standings
You would be right to expect Real Madrid or Barcelona to be at the top of the La Liga Table. Currently sitting atop is last season’s Champion League Winner Real Madrid and only three points behind is Barcelona FC, which surprisingly is only one point above Sevilla. Atletico Madrid is shockingly at the sixth place behind Yellow Submarine Villarreal CF and Real Sociedad, the former club of Atletico star Antoine Griezmann.
Serie A Grouping
It saddens me to say that once again Juventus has ruthlessly dominated Serie A.
AC Milan set world alight with its blistering performances in the League but poor form made the team lose the title, pushing it to the fourth position, nine points behind the leading team Juventus.
The Club AS Roma is four points behind Juve, followed by Napoli, which is three points behind Roma. Surprisingly, Inter Milan is missing from this elite group because, after a poor start and some roadblocks, the team is starting to get on its feet again and has rapidly climbed to the Seventh position.
There are no surprises here as the mighty Bayern Munich proved that the team is the football superpower in Germany as it humbled League newcomers RB Leipzig 3-0.
RB had been sitting at the top of the League for many weeks but finally lost its lead.
However, the newcomer may be able to reclaim the lead since it is only three points behind Bayern.