With at-least 7 matches played across the major European soccer leagues, we take a look back to the major storylines of the EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Serie A in the early season.
English Premier League
The EPL has provided us with numerous early season storylines as it does every season. If you would’ve told me that after 7 matches there would be no undefeated teams, Arsenal and Liverpool would occupy the top 2 places, Southampton would be in 4th place, and Manchester United would be in 9th place with 3 losses I probably would have directed you in the direction of the nearest psychologist. Arsenal and Liverpool have enjoyed flying starts to the campaign with Liverpool seemingly re-born, especially following the return of Luis Suarez.
Man United have struggled mightily under David Moyes already losing to City, Liverpool and West Brom in route to their worst ever start to a PL season. It would not be over the top to say Old Trafford is on the verge of a major catastrophe if results don’t start going United’s way.
United’s neighbors, Manchester City, also endured a somewhat stuttering start to the season but have righted the ship as of late with their 4-1 demolishment of United in the derby along with their most recent 3-1 defeat of Everton.
Chelsea have looked like real title contenders, as well, which doesn’t surprise anyone. The return of Jose Mourinho has seemingly re-ignited the career of John Terry who is looking like a new man under the “Special One.” Mourinho has yet to really implement his true style of play, but when he does (and if Samuel Eto’o catches fire), watch out for Chelsea to be real players on the end of the season.
Tottenham, on the other hand, while they are currently sitting 6th with only 1 defeat, are clearly feeling the effect of losing both Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey in the summer. Yes, Roberto Soldado looks like a real steal, but he’s not Gareth Bale and Spurs are desperately trying to replace his goals in the lineup. Their recent 3-0 home defeat to West Ham is a worrying sign for Andres Villas-Boas and the Spurs faithful.
Spanish La Liga
I think it’s safe to say that the start of the Carlo Ancelotti era in Madrid has not gone smoothly. Real Madrid currently find themselves in 3rd place, already 5 points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and have already lose the Madrid derby to Atletico. Now 5 points may not seem like a big gap, especially only 8 games into the season, but Atletico and Barcelona have been rampant so far picking up maximum points in every game and Atletico looks a real threat to break into the top 2 in La Liga. The next 3 weeks will be vital for Ancelotti and Madrid as they host Juventus in the Champions League on October 23rd before heading to the Camp Nou for the first El Classico of the season 3 days later on the 26th.
Unlike Madrid, Barcelona looks mainly un-affected by the coaching carousel that has suddenly hit Catalonia. Tata Martino has come in and settled things down and has Barcelona looking as good as ever. They are currently sitting in 1st place, again, with maximum points from their first 8 games, again. At this rate, it’s looks very difficult to find anyone who could challenge Barcelona atop the La Liga table.
One team that might just challenge Barcelona is Atletico Madrid. Atletico has already defeated their cross town rivals Real Madrid this season and sit tied with Barcelona atop the La Liga table. After Atletico sold Falcao in the summer it seemed like they would struggle to replace his goals, well they haven’t found those difficulties yet. Atletico has scored 21 goals this season and Diego Costa is leading the league with 10 of those 21. Keep an eye out for Atletico this season, if they keep this up they may well be right there at the top come the end of the season.
Italian Serie A
The Serie A has definitely lived up to all expectations, and then some. You can make a very logical argument for the Scudetto credentials of any team in the top 4 right now (Roma, Napoli, Juventus, Inter). Roma have bulldozed through the league so far winning each of their first 7 games of the season and only giving up 1 goal in the process. Roma has already defeated cross-town rivals Lazio in the Rome derby and Inter in a relatively easy manner. Roma surely look like the team most likely to challenge Juve and Napoli atop the Serie A standings this season.
Another team that looks primed to break back into the upper tier of Italian soccer is Inter. Inter has started the season just about as good as any “Interisti” could have hoped with 14 points from their first 7 games. Inter has gone consecutive league games without victory following a draw against Cagliari and a humbling 3-0 defeat at the hands of Roma at home this past Sunday. Inter’s defense has looked strong and their offense has been scoring goals at will, including a 7-0 demolishing of Sassuolo. If Inter can keep up their recent form, paired with the return to form of Diego Milito and Javier Zanetti, they very well might find themselves challenging to get back into the Champions League places.
One team who hoped to challenge for the Scudetto and has gotten off to a flying start is Napoli. Napoli has looked like they haven’t lost a step after losing Edinson Cavani and head coach Walter Mazzarri in the summer. Napoli has looked rampant at times under Rafael Benitez and with the editions of Pepe Reina, Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon look like a real contender for the Scudetto. They have only dropped 2 points all season (a surprising 1-1 draw with Sassuolo) and can take over the lead in Serie A by handing Roma their first defeat of the season in their next league game. One low point of Napoli’s season has been their play in the Champions League. Napoli was strongly considered as a contender to make a deep run in the CL and currently find themselves behind Arsenal and Dortmund following a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
Defending champions Juventus has been looking like their own selves once again this season. Juventus has easily dispatched every team they have played (with the only exception being a 1-1 draw away to Inter) and have looked strong in the Champions League as well. The team has come under some scrutiny from the Italian press as of late following a string of very questionable decisions in the league going in their favor. Juventus has always been a “love them or have them” team and this season is no different. Juventus looked prime to add a 3rd consecutive Scudetto to their cabinet, and who would really bet against them at some point?
It may be only a couple months into the season, but European soccer has provided us with some very fun times already. Be sure to stay tuned in to Upper Deck Chatter all season long to stay up to date with all the happenings in the European soccer world.