Monday, November 25, 2013

The divide in European soccer is growing


I'd like to write about other European leagues and how great they were to watch this weekend, and there sre great teams in Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga and Ligue Un, but they are only getting competition in the Champions League.

Barcelona are unbeaten in the first 14 games of the season and have scored 42 goals in that time, conceding just 9 goals. Bayern beat Dortmund this weekend to extend their run to 13 unbeaten to start this season, and they have won 11 of those, letting in just 7 goals. Juve are top again in Serie A, starting 11-1-1, with Roma close, but only because they started at an unbelievable rate and have an amazing defense. PSG are also unbeaten, topping Ligue Un on 34 points from 14. Lille are second, rivaling Roma for tightest defense, conceding just 4 in 14.

So there is somewhat of a story there, but it's no surprise really. The top teams just get stronger and the competition gets weaker. Every major league in Europe, apart from England, still has at least one unbeaten team with about a third of the season gone. That may be great for stats and records, but there is a real gulf in class among the teams now, and it's not great to watch - teams are seeing a 2-0 loss as an acceptable result, because Barca, Real, Bayern and PSG are putting 4,5, 6 or 7 past teams. And that leads me into the Premier League - Man City have put 7 past Norwich and now 6 past Spurs, and Tottenham spent about $150 million this off-season. What hope do other teams have of competing if City can smash 6 past a team who were tipped for the top 4?

The gulf is growing, and not in a good way people. That European Super League we all dread may actually make the domestic season better - but that's another discussion.

***



So City, Chelsea and Arsenal all had pretty easy wins this weekend. Games that had the potential to trip them up. They look like the strongest three teams in the division. Liverpool are close, but they're pretty evenly matched up with Manchester United this season. Spurs don't look like they are going to make the top 4 again, but they still have a chance to crack it - they just need to learn to defend, and to get some supply to a striker that cost a huge chunk of that Gareth Bale money.

The Merseyside derby was fantastic. Lead changes, great goals, a yellow that should have been a red, and that man again....Romelu Lukaku. Yes, I could have said Luis Suarez, and he deserve s a mention, but the young Belgian is an absolute beast. He is the ultimate lone striker. Big, strong, good in the air, quick, can finish and is just 20! But lest we forget, Chelsea own him. So Everton's shot a the top 4 is realistic, but they won't find another Lukaku next year, and Chelsea won't loan him out again.

West Ham and Fulham are in trouble. Both teams look weak, and their game next week is a real 6-pointer. Neither team is playing well, and the excuses given by Martin Jol and Sam Allardyce are not enough anymore. West Ham need Carroll back, but to expect him to come in and score 15+ in the second half of the season is unrealistic. Fulham can't defend right now, and as good as he is when they win, Berbatov becomes a liability when they're behind.

Some rich league football to keep us entertained this week - so we don't need to worry about the little teams too much.