How are our predictions doing for who will win the top European leagues

By Tony Attwood

Before this season began Untold made a series of predictions as to who would win certain European Leagues.  Those predictions were…

  • England: Manchester City
  • Spain: Barcelona
  • Scotland: Celtic
  • Italy: Juventus
  • Germany: Bayern Munich
  • France: PSG

My point here was not to suggest that I was particularly clever in coming up with these winners, but rather to make the point that football across Europe is becoming less and less challenging, and less and less interesting, because such predictions can be made and are liable to be correct.

Indeed looking at the current English league table I think we can all of us make a fairly good prediction as to which clubs will end up in the entire top six next year.  It will probably be Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.  It’s not hard is it?

Now of course we know that occasionally top six clubs have a dire season and drop out of the top six – Chelsea have famously done it twice.  But even being able to predict five of the top six shows just how predictable the league has become, compared with how it was in the past.

Anyway, my thought today is to see just how things are going for the six leagues that I predicted and whether our predictions are on track.

In England the battle is much closer than I expected, and either Liverpool or Manchester City could win the title.  But certainly no one else will. as the gap to third place is generally hovering around 10 or more points.  So my prediction of Manchester City will come in first or second.

In Spain my prediction is however already looking pretty safe.  Barcelona are top of the league with a gap of around 10 points or more to the clubs in second and third place (Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.  After that there is another huge gap to fourth place.   And as I have noted before the gap between the fourth placed club and relegation is often smaller than the gap between the fourth placed club and the top team.  At least that is not the case yet in the Premier League.   However this season for most of the time the seventh placed team in the PL has been closer to relegation than winning the title.

Moving on to Scotland, Rangers have closed the gap on Celtic but even so, Celtic look certain to win the league exactly as predicted, and by a convincing margin.  In fact by the time you read this they may even have done it.  They may also be heading for a treble treble.

But even that is nothing compared to Italy where Juventus are certain to win, and indeed may have won the title by the time you read this.  No one is near to them – and that will be the 8th time running that they have won the league.  Which coincidentally is the number of times Celtic will have won the league in a row.

As for Germany, the last six titles have gone to Bayern Munich and they are indeed top of the league at the moment I write this – but only by one point, so it might have changed by the time you see my notes.   There is no chance of Bayern not being first or second, and full marks to Dortmund for staying in the race, but Bayerrn still could get the title for the seventh time running.

Last of all, France.

PSG are not so ominpresent at the top, for after four successive wins from 2013 to 2016 Monaco took the title in 2017, with Mr Emery returning PSG to the top in 2018.   This season once again PSG are around 20 points clear at the top while fourth placed St Etienne are closer to the very foot of the table than the top.  PSG will win it, as predicted.

So already, Celtic, Juventus and PSG, three out of the six predictions are just about there while the other three (Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern) could well win it, and at worst will come second.

And my question remains: is this good?   Is it really good and competitive to be able to predict who will win the league across six leagues in Europe, and get it mostly right (indeed still possibly get it totally right?)

I am not sure it is.  Which is why I would like to see greater control on club expenditure on salaries and transfer fees.   I can’t see that happening however, because as the Manchester City situation shows, whatever rules are put in place very rich men, or very rich countries, will flout them – and, as happened in the Man City case, will threaten Uefa with litigation to extinction if the international body does continue its investigation.

But just as I am not sure that it is good for football to have a fairly fixed top six in the Premier League, that can be predicted way in advance year after year, nor do I think that it makes for good football, to have these various clubs winning their domestic titles at a canter year after year.

There were days when clubs could rise and fall very quickly – such as when Manchester City won the title one year and then fell apart the next and were relegated.   I doubt we will ever go back to that, but I would like to see more competition and less certainty.

9 Replies to “How are our predictions doing for who will win the top European leagues”

  1. The point is since Arsenal are not going to win the title this season, but they should nevertheless get a top place finish to play in the Ucl next season. We know they can also play in the Ucl next season by winning the Europa League Cup this season. And if they win it’s good because it is a big European Title. But even then, a top four place finish is prestigious and commands respect in the PL and in other top 4 European Leagues. Therefore, Arsenal should from their away match against Watford in the PL on Monday night up their away form to the level of their home form in the game to beat Watford and move up to 4th in the table unfailingly.

  2. CPal v Man$ity

    Foul count midway through first half is 1-4, no cards yet. But Man$ity have already kicked one CPal player off the park. Martin Atkinson seen nothing wrong in that.

  3. It is not just national wealth, like Man City & PSG skewing things.

    If you want a more competitive league the solution is not difficult to implement. You do not need salary restrictions or transfer fee restrictions, you need better revenue sharing when it comes to television money. Right now, top teams receive a lot more money than the bottoms teams. The new revenue share model is 1.6:1, which means Man City gets 1.6 million for every million the #20 team gets. That seems fair-ish, but not when oyu add up all the other advantages the top clubs have.

    1. Bigger revenue share.
    2. Better sponsorship deals
    3. Bigger stadiums
    4. European money
    5. Money from cup games
    6. Lucrative off-season tours
    7. Merchandising

    Each one of these makes the rich richer and ensures they stay in the top 6 and the clubs not in the top 6 stay where they are. If the revenue share was more even, you would have better competitive balance and the rewards for spending over football revenues the way Chelsea, Man City, PSG, etc. do would not have the same return in merchandising and marketing; since other teams would swoop in and snap up some of the market share. Merchandising sounds like small change, but it is not. It can be tens or even hundreds of millions.

    The big prize for getting into the Champions League and staying there is not just the 20 million or so the teams get from the TV pot, it is the exposure, additional merchandising, marketing, sponsorship, etc. If the revenue share was, say, 1.25:1, for example, it would put another 30 million or so in Newcastle’s. coffers for transfers.The loss of 30 million will not hurt Man City, but if you added a top level player or two to every club in the league, every game is that much harder for top teams to win, improving the balance.

    Southampton have a great record of producing players, by they are hovering near relegation. If, over the last few years, they’d held on to Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamerblain, Ricky Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Virgil Van Dijk, Dusan Tadic, Sadio Mane, Jose Fonte, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nathaniel Clyne, etc. Imagine how much better the Saints would be if they could have held onto even three or four of those players?

    Capping European revenue at the same levels, or even 1.4:1 instead of 1.8:1 would have a similar effect, though lesser because the overall numbers are smaller.

    In the European leagues, the TV money is less, and there are other issues, like state sponsored protection of the big clubs (Real Madrid/Barcelona) Country wealth invested in a single club (PSG) and in Italy, well, we all know what was going on last time Juventus dominated like this.

  4. Liver v Chel$ea

    20 or so minutes in. According to the foul counter, Liver have only committed 1 foul to Chel$ea’s 2. But Chel$ea have needed 2 treatments already.

    Half time, no score. According to the fouls counter, 1 by Liver and 4 by Chel$ea. Chel$ea have needed 3 treatments, and the third treatment was the second time for a Chel$ea player, who had to be substituted. And then just before half time, a Chel$ea player gets booked. The only booking so far.

    The EPL (English PGMO League) – the most fixed league in the world. No situation is too contrived.

  5. With Chelsea collapsing to a 2-0 defeat away to Liverpool today’s evening in the PL, Arsenal have been presented with a chance on the plate?, to to go 4th in the table tomorrow night at Vicarage Road by beating Watford. I believe Emery and the Gunners know about this chance. Therefore, the Gunners should avail themselves with this opportunity and beat Watford unfailingly.

  6. @Tony, I noticed you did not ask the question WHY!!! this time around. It’s surprising, since you usually give the media stick for this error. Indeed I would have loved to see your analysis on the WHY, not because I don’t know what you seem to be thinking, since when you made your recommendations you clearly are trying to tackle the issue of financial input. What I would rather see an analysis on is on whether you think its a problem of illegal money coming into some hands or whether it’s a problem of some other teams wanting to compete without making sound investment. If you ask me, I’d say both factors are significant. Teams like man city, PSG may have an advantage based on external monies. However we can’t accuse teams like juve, Bayern, Liverpool, Celtic, barca of spending money they didn’t make. Where I come from, we say, “you spend money to make money”. So when a team like barca invests the money it generated into bigger stars, and bigger contracts to generate even more funds and grow even bigger, is it wrong? If Arsenal decides to hoard cash and grow its cash reserves and in the process fall farther behind the big boys in the footballing landscape, is it right? For me,each would chose the strategy it feels would best meet its ambition and at the end of the day, lie on its bed the way it laid it.

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