Another season has drawn to a close. There were some predictable results, and there were some tectonic shifts.
As a contrast to last season, where the top 2 in each league were very close, this time around the top spot in each league was wrapped up far before the last day of the season. In fact, Munich won the Bundesliga with a whopping 6 games to spare!
English Premier League – United won its 20th title end of April, with 4 games to spare. City was unchallenged to the 2nd place, though never in contention for the top spot. Arsenal managed to pip Spurs to the last, and much coveted, Champion’s League spot.
- 11 point difference between top 2 team
Robin van Persie, unsurprisingly, won the Golden Boot second year in row, with Gareth Bale coming of age in this season.
My prediction for 2013-14 season:
Top 3: Chelsea, City, Arsenal (not in that order – I don’t know which order!)
4-5: Spurs, Liverpool
5-6: United, Everton
With Sir Alex now gone (and Scholes and Giggs too), I see a mighty upheaval at United. Rooney will leave (too much differences with Moyes) and RVP will not able to carry the team on his shoulders alone. Mourinho will work his magic at Chelsea; Wenger will actually spend money; City will be calmer under Pellegrini; Rodgers will try his best, but with Suarez gone, it will be an uphill task; Villas-Boas might coax out a top 3 finish for Spurs.
German Bundesliga – The German top flight has become, much like the Spanish League, a two-horse league. Munich and Dortmund were at least a body length ahead of rest of the 16 teams, with Munich being head and shoulders ahead of Dortmund. Even the Champion’s League final were contested by these 2 teams! Though it was a lively, free-flowing match (the CL final, that is), with both sides getting a lot of scoring opportunities, you always got the feeling that this was Munich’s year. With a treble (league, Cup, and CL) Munich IS the team to beat next year.
Look at the table and try to take in the significance of Munich’s achievement.
- Had a 25 point gap between 2nd placed Dortmund
- Had a +80 goal difference
- Won the league (22nd title) in beginning of April, with 6 games to spare (well, to be fair, you can’t infer that from the table!)
Now, another blow-your-face-away stats. Even though Munich scored 98 goals, their top scorer, Mandzukic, was only 6th on the list with 15 goals. The whole effing team is full of goal scorers! Müller, Robben, Ribery, Pizaro, Gomez. Not to mention Schweinsteiger and Alaba!
My prediction for next season:
Italian Serie A - Juventus managed to hold on to the top spot (their 29th/31st Scudetto – depends on who you ask), relatively with ease – 3 games to spare. Milan started horrendously, but still managed to get the last CL spot, leaving Fiorentina frustrated, due to a) Unbelievable effort by El Sharawy at the beginning, b) a late surge inspired by Super Mario, and c) Pazzini’s workhorse-like effort throughout
As you’ll notice, Inter Milan is not in the top 5. They finished 9th, a great fall from the time they won they treble just 3 years ago.
Edison Cavani almost pulled off a “Maradona”, inching Napoli closer to the Scudetto.
My predictions for 2013-14:
1-2 – Juventus, Milan (not in that order). Allegri’s staying at Milan heralds good news. They have a lively, young squad and if Balotelli can be “managed”, great things will happen!
3-5 – Inter, Udinese, Roma (not in that order)
6-7 – Fiorentina, Lazio
(A lot depends on the Cavani saga though. If Napoli manage to hold on to him, I’d give them a top 3 finish. If not, they’d be lower than 7.)
Spanish La Liga - Barcelona wrapped up their 22nd title with 4 games to spare in middle of May. They had actually opened up a 9 point lead over Real Madrid going into the new year, and never let it drop. In fact, they just built on it, eventually ending with a lead of 15 points over 2nd placed Madrid.
The real shocker (or maybe, by now, it’s not a shocker any more) lies in the goals ratcheted up the 2 current best players in the world.
In any other league, Radamel Falcao would have been the top scorer, but not in this one.
My prediction for 2013-14 season:
1-2 – Barcelona/Madrid, no dislodging these two. Who will come out on top will depend on a) If Ronaldo stays at Madrid b) How Neymar links up with Messi c) How leaky Barca’s defense will be
3-5 – Malaga/Athletic Bilbao/Athletico Madrid
France Ligue 1 – With PSG being bankrolled by the oil money from Qatar, and elevating it to stratospheric level in just 1 year, Ligue 1 needs to be counted among the continents elite. Now Monaco, being promoted to the top-level and fueled by fertilizer money from Russia, showing signs of similar promise, the French league should be very interesting.
Unsurprisingly, Ibrahimovic was the runaway leader, with no serious contenders. The 2nd top scorer in the league didn’t even break 20 goals. It will be interesting to see the duel between Falcao (who moved to Monaco) and Zlatan next season.
My predictions for next season:
1 – PSG
2 – Monaco
3-4 – Marseille/Lyon
Munich’s thrashing, a 7-0 aggregate win over 2 legs in CL semi-final, of Barcelona signals a shift in continental powers. This is not to say that Barca is a finished power, far from it. Barca needs to heavily invest in a couple of physical center backs, but looking at their summer signings till now, it doesn’t look like they learnt their lesson. Munich on the other hand have an abundance of riches, and are still looking to “strengthen” their squad. Not sure where this will lead to.