With Italy’s Serie A having set a date for its return after COVID-19 restrictions eased across the country and the La Liga and the English Premier League also agreeing to resume, it seems that the football-starved fans finally have their wishes come true. The German Bundesliga was the first major European league to return on May 16 paving a way forward for others across Europe to follow.
Italy’s sports minister confirmed that Serie A will return on June 20, while La Liga in Spain will resume its season from June 11. The Premier League has announced that it is planning to restart from June 17 subject to Government approval. As we gear up for an action-led month ahead, let’s analyse where each of these three leagues stands at present.
It will be exactly 100 days between the Premier League’s last game and the scheduled return of English football’s top flight. The matches postponed due to the Carabao Cup final, which were Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal will now take place on June 17, followed by a full gameweek beginning from Friday, June 19. This means that the Premier League will restart with Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta’s emotional return to City where it all began for him in his managerial career.
There are 92 matches remaining to be played in the league. Alongside this, Champions League places are up for grabs as well as the relegation battle is to be played out. The title is more or less done and dusted and it seems like the inevitable win for Liverpool after 30 years will finally come their way. The Reds need just a maximum of two wins to claim the title but can also accomplish the same in their first game back if City lose to Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. It gets more interesting as you move further down the table. There’s just a nine-point gap between the fourth-place Chelsea and eleventh-place Crystal Palace. That tells you how tightly packed the mid-table is for the European competition spots.
The bottom of the table seems to hotly contested as well. With just four points separating nineteenth-place Aston Villa and fifteenth-place Brighton Hove Albion, it seems like the battle to escape relegation may go down to the wire.
The league which has given us so many midfield maestros over the years has finally gotten the green signal to resume on June 20 after three months of exile. Unlike previous seasons, the title challenge in this edition has been evenly matched. With just one point separating Juventus and Lazio, it is shaping up to be the most exciting title challenge in years.
Lazio has been very vocal for the return of the league as they have been unbeaten in 21 matches now and have the chance to lift the third Scudetto in the club’s history. The battle for the European competition spot is also intense, with just nine points between Atlanta at fourth and Napoli at sixth.
The relegation battle is similar to the Premier League. The fight for the third relegation spot is on, with Leece currently occupying that spot but is level on points with Genoa. Udinese, Torino and Sampdoria are just hovering above the relegation zone and they can also be sucked into this dog fight. Meanwhile, for Brescia, it seems like they will have to return to Serie B as their fate seems to be sealed before the restart itself.
The Spanish league has announced a hectic schedule as the La Liga is all set to be back on June 11 with the derby between Sevilla and Real Betis to kick us off. The first round of games following the COVID-19 shutdown will be played over four days. The reason for such a tightly packed fixture list is that the Spanish Federation wants to finish the season by July 19 and hope to start the next season by September 12. This will mean that the teams will have a minimum of 72 hours of rest between two matches which should be good enough according to the officials.
The two Catalan clubs are on either spectrum of the table with Barcelona leading Real Madrid by two points and Espanyol languishing at the bottom of the table. The Los Blancos will not be playing their home matches at the Santiago Bernabeu due to the renovation work on their home ground but will finish the campaign in their training complex. Quique Setien’s men are going for a third-straight La Liga crown and fifth in six seasons, with the title fight shaping up perfectly for the neutrals.
The other two Champions League spots will be hotly contested as well with four sides within two points. Sevilla, who are third, are on 47 points and Atletico Madrid, who are currently sitting on the sixth position, are on 45. Valencia also seems to be in the picture with 42 points to their name.
The relegation battle is close as well, with just six points between fifteenth-place Valladolid and nineteenth-place Leganes. The organisers have only released scheduling details for the first two gameweeks but La Liga chief Javier Tebas confirmed that there will be matches every day of the week until the season is completed.
So get ready for an incredible amount of quality football coming your way.
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