The favourites for winning the European top five leagues

23.8.2019.   17:38
The favourites for winning the European top five leagues

In all the top five leagues of Europe - English, Spanish, Italian, German, and French - last year we saw all the champions defend their titles. The Premier League, Ligue 1, and La Liga have the same champion "just" two years in a row. Bundesliga and Serie A have their sovereign, undisputed rulers.

France can easily be added to that group as Monaco's title in 2016/2017 only separates six titles of Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona is also dominating in Spain, winning four of the five last championships.

But nothing is certain in the world of football, Leicester City's miraculous title-winning season wasn't that long ago, surprises do happen. They most likely won't be at that level, but the upcoming season is still uncertain, unscripted as the English have advertised their league.

We take a look at what the bookmakers weigh the chances of each league's top sides.

France - Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain - 1.1 (1/10 fractional)

Starting with the biggest league favourite, probably in the whole of Europe. It's not that PSG is so much stronger than last year, it's just that they don't have a matching rival. The last titleholder not from the Park du Princes, Monaco, has battled to stay in the league last season, finishing 16th.

PSG brought valuable players they were missing, like the passionate Ander Herrera, combative Idrissa Gueye, young defender Abdou Diallo, and the creative wizard Pablo Sarabia. Only rotational or loaned out players have left the club and if the goalkeeper Keylor Navas arrives from Real Madrid, the odds will be completely justified.

Lyon - 8.00 (7 fractional)

The only other club worth mentioning in France is Lyon. Seeing how Monaco was abysmal last season, and hasn't made that many big-name signings in the summer. Lyon, on the other hand, sold three very important players - Tanguy Ndombele, Nabil Fekir, and Ferland Mendy. But the Kids have invested the received money in Joachim Andersen, Thiago Mendes, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, and others.

The team from the Groupama Stadium finished the last season third-placed, behind Lille. But Nicolas Pepe had a far greater influence on the vice-champions and his departure will certainly be missed. Rennes at 50, Lille and St Ettiene at 66 are the next line of favourites in France, with Marseille and Monaco facing 100 odds in their quest to the title.

Germany - Bundesliga

Bayern Munich - 1.33 (1/3 fractional)

The seven-time consecutive Bundesliga winners came back late last-season to make up for the bad start of the season and clinched the title in front of Borussia Dortmund. This year, it might be a different story and besides England, this might be the tightest title-race upcoming. 

Bayern is coming in the new season without several veterans like Matts Hummels, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Rafinha, and without James Rodriguez. The Bavarians spent big, but their squad is still thin. Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Ivan Perisic, Mickael Cuisance, and Philippe Coutinho are all good signings, but if Robert Lewandowski gets injured only Thomas Muller can replace him positionally. But the German matching the Pole's goalscoring record is hard to imagine. Or the midfield and wing players making up the 40 goals per-season habit Lewa has.

Bayern has lost the German Super Cup and draw the first match of the season, and if the bad start of the last year repeats itself, the newly formed young squad will give BVB a match point.

Borussia Dortmund - 4.00 (3 fractional)

The title was in the grasp of the BVB in the last season, but inexperience and nervousness at the back cost them the first title since 2012. In the next season, the Millionaires have an even better chance. The side led by Lucien Favre had one of the best transfer windows of any club in Europe, and surprisingly for them - didn't have any major departures.

Abdou Diallo left for PSG, but the young centre-back has been replaced with a proven German centre-back Matts Hummels. But even before the prodigal son returned, BVB has conducted a terrific transfer window by signing one of the most exciting German players Julian Brandt, another offensive marvel Thorgan Hazard, and a marauding left-back Nico Schulz.

BVB has a good chance to break Bayern's rule and it is reflected by the odds.

RB Leipzig - 21.00 (20 fractional)

If any team with the odds higher than 10 has a proper chance to win its league it is RB Leipzig. The project backed by the Red Bull company has serious investment behind it, stable staff, a terrific scouting network so its unknown signings don't get much hype until they start playing, and now a possible missing piece - a great coach in Julian Nagelsmann.

RB finished second in their first season in the Bundesliga, sixth in the second, and last year it was third. Similarly to BVB, no giant English or Spanish clubs came for their players this summer, and the team brought valid signings. Hannes Wolf from the sister club Red Bull Salzburg, Christopher Nkunku from PSG, Ademola Lookman from Everton, and the Brazilian Luan Candido.

It is only a question of time when RB Leipzig starts contesting for the title, and it may very well be this season.

Bayer Leverkusen - 34.00 (33 fractional)

A long-shot, but Bayer Leverkusen does have some of the most talented players in Europe. And if they fully blossom in this season, anything is possible with 34 games being played. The club from the BayArena will deeply regret the low release clause in Julian Brandt's contract, but if Kai Havertz continues playing like he did, with the help of other exciting players, Bayer could make a surprise.

It wouldn't even be the surprise close to the level of Leicester, and Leverkusen did bring in just the players it needed - Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri, Daley Sinkgraven, and Moussa Diaby. Peter Bosz will have to give its players belief in themselves and to keep taking it a game at a time, not focusing on the Champions League too much.

Italy - Serie A

Juventus - 1.44 (4/9 fractional)

We have the most exciting Serie A of the last decade in front of us, there's no doubt about it. But whether that will count for the title-contention and not just for the Europe-spots race, depends mostly on how well Juventus players adapt to Maurizio Sarri. Juve could very well be the winner of the transfer window with the signings of amazing players like Aaron Ramsey and Adrian Rabiot on a free, and getting the gem Matthijs de Ligt.

Only Joao Cancelo's departure could be regretful, but the team brought in Danilo as a replacement. With Cristiano Ronaldo, Paolo Dybala staying and the rest of the squad which won the league eight times in a row, it's hard not seeing Juve as the clear favourites.

The bigger threat to Juve's run may not be Napoli or Inter, but the rigidness and specificity of Sarri's system. If the player's get it - they may run through the league. If not, we might see a fall of a dynasty.

Napoli - 6.00 (5 fractional)

Napoli will have a terrific centre-back pairing, one of the best in Europe as Kostas Manolas has joined Kalidou Koulibaly at the San Paolo. But the bookies may have overestimated Napoli's chances compared to the solidified Juve. Most likely because of the bad ending of the year by the Turin club, after they've all but mathematically secured the title.

Besides Manolas, Napoli hasn't bought any fear-inducing players. The youngster Eljif Elmas being the third-highest transfer of the summer for the Napoli club after the Greek Manolas and the club-record signing Hirving Lozano. Giovanni Di Lorenzo, David Ospina, and Filippo Costa don't seem to have the quality to overthrow the most dominant ruler in the elite European football.

The fact that Carlo Ancelotti only has four total league titles in his career as a manager, never lifting the trophy twice with any of the clubs he led, should count for something as well.

Inter - 6.00 (5 fractional)

Antonio Conte's winning the league with Chelsea despite not getting the players he wanted and in the stern competition of the PL may be one of the best managerial debut seasons of the decade. And while Inter did spend big this summer, the question stays whether it spend smart.

The club was reliant on the goalscoring prowess of Mauro Icardi for so long, and now Romelu Lukaku will be the prime striker. Two other quality players of recent times have also left the club - Radja Nainggolan and Ivan Perisic.

While the youngster like Nicolo Barella does promise an uprising by the Nerazzurri in the coming year, it might be too soon. The club from Milano also brought in the veteran Diego Godin and several Serie A-tested players like Valentino Lazaro, Matteo Politano, and Stefano Sensi. But can it match the team that has CR7, Dybala, Bernardeschi, and De Ligt? Most likely not.

"Honourable mentions" go to Roma (51.00) and Milan (41.00) who in the eyes of the bookies have some chance to lift the trophy.

Spain - La Liga

Barcelona 1.9 (10/11 fractional)

While Messi is at Nou Camp, Barcelona will be the favourites to win the league. Regardless of how much spending the Madrid clubs do. Blaugrana cruised to a title next to the Ronaldo-less Real last season, while Atletico's reinforcements didn't put much of a fight.

Now, after taking directly from Atletico, and their star player at that, Barca looks like a sure favourite in La Liga. But not as much as one might think before consulting the odds. Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong are not enough to convince the bookies that Ernesto Valverde will manage to push this team to the title. As it showed questionable spirit at times, and both Real and Atletico can draw it in the deep waters.

Barca also sold Malcom to Zenit, and sent Coutinho on loan to Bayern, so an injury crisis may show the team thin in offensive positions.

Real Madrid 2.37 (11/8 fractional)

Los Blancos had one of their trademark transfer windows when they buy up a whole new generation of players. Rodrygo, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, and the star Eden Hazard promise a far superior Real this season. Which won't be a tough feat to accomplish seeing how lacklustre the previous outing of the royal club was. An injury to Marco Asensio and the club's inability to sell Gareth Bale in time may cause the team to carry a burden.

Incoming transfers are still expected at the Santiago Bernabeu, as Donny van de Beek can give that little bit of a push to the squad during the season. Bigger dreamers still hope that Neymar or Paul Pogba may still arrive, although these transfers don't seem likely. Zinedine Zidane will have to prove himself in the league, as Barca’s dominance is becoming humiliating, despite the Champions League victories of Real.

Atletico Madrid 7.00 (6 fractional)

The best value bet offer on the table coming into the new season. Atletico has the continuity and the passion with Diego Simeone at the helm, and the Madrid club is one of the candidates for the best-executed transfer window. The €126,000,000 signing of Joao Felix is still new, but it looks like an amazing deal, which is an insane thing to say with that price tag.

Simeone conducted a switch of generations in the backline, but there are the key screws remaining from its previous squad. The one which achieved so much by winning La Liga and arriving at the CL final twice. In this season, with Marcos Llorente, Felipe, Hector Herrera, Renan Lodi, Mario Hermoso, Kieran Trippier, and Felix, Atleti can make that run again.

To shatter the idea of a Spanish "big two" forever and to fully acclaim their spot as the giants of Spanish and European football.

Sevilla and Valencia are both rated at 151 odds, and even though the teams had great transfer windows, a surprise on a tectonic level like this seems truly impossible.

England - Premier League

Manchester City - 1.5 (1/2 fractional)

City defended its title last time out in one of the most competitive races as Liverpool succumbed to the master plan of Pep Guardiola over the 38 games. For these long, gruelling campaigns to be finished victoriously, and especially after doing twice, the leader has to be passionate about the objective. And no one can deny Guardiola's commitment to the goal at hand.

The champions of England didn't bring in a lot of players for their standards, but they did bring the exact players they need. Rodri is the perfect player for Guardiola's system. Joao Cancelo is certainly an improvement on Kyle Walker offensively. Angelino was brought back as a backup for the left-back position.

The departure of the captain Vincent Kompany is more important on the leadership, identity side, than on the pitch itself, as City has several elite centre-backs. The team is rightfully the first candidate for the title again.

Liverpool 3.5 (5/2 fractional)

Despite having such a tight race the last time out, the bookies still didn't put Liverpool as the equal to Manchester City. Somewhat frustratingly for their fans, the team didn't buy any first-team players, and only the goalkeeper Adrian can be expected to be featured during the campaign. In cup games or when Allison is unavailable like he is now due to an injury. Which can be a major variable in such a tightly-contested race.

The Reds are also battling against one significant adversary - pressure! Liverpool hasn't won the league in such a long time and the team carries that burden every time they go on the pitch, especially the closer they come to the end of the season and the trophy. While City plays without any burning urgency, Guardiola's animated shouts aside.

The race will probably again be the most interesting one in Europe bar any major injuries.

Tottenham 21.00 (20 fractional)

The place in the Champions League final and being in the PL's top four for the last four years hasn't improved Tottenham's chances of a title that much according to the bookies. Despite keeping its coach and its star players, Tottenham is still seen as an outsider in the title race.

Basing on points collected in the last season, it is completely fair as City had 27 points more than the Spurs. Yet, the London team brought in three probable first-team players - Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, and Giovani Lo Celso. If Harry Kane remains healthy, it wouldn't be an asinine suggestion to say that Tottenham will battle for the trophy, now that they are fully moved in at their new stadium.

Arsenal 34.00 (33 fractional)

Arsenal fans would most likely laugh at the prospect of their team winning the title, after years of being fourth-placed were followed by the lack of Champions League football. But the firepower that the Gunners posses in their ranks can't be dismissed. Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and the newcomer Nicolas Pepe can shell-shock goalkeepers.

The loan signing from Real Dani Ceballos has quickly adapted to the team and Unai Emery's style and is already a starter. Kieran Tierney has solidified the left-back position and the player is one of the biggest prospects on that part of the pitch. David Luiz may bring in some experience to the backline, although he is error-prone, and the London team is looking better than in a long time.

Manchester United 34.00 (33 fractional)

To put United at the same chances as Arsenal seems like a bad decision by the bookies. The Red Devils seem to have a problem at every level of the football club. The inexperienced manager has to deal with a troublesome dressing room which has several players that don't want to be at Old Trafford.

The signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka is deemed as an excellent choice by the backroom staff. While Daniel James broke into the first team straight away, many fans were concerned that that was the team's third-biggest transfer. The most important one, in terms of both money and urgency, was the purchase of Harry Maguire from Leicester that made the Englishman the most expensive defender ever. United fans would probably feel lucky if their team secures a top-four place, let alone win a title.

Transfer-banned Chelsea at odds of 51.00 has a nice backstory for a fairytale trophy in the league, as they are led by the club legend Frank Lampard. Yet, the fairytale is a proper term for that possibility. On the other hand, Leicester has 401 odds this year for winning the league.

Will this season see all the teams from European best leagues defend their titles, which seems most likely, or are we going to have another wild Leicester-like story on our hands? We can't wait to find out.


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