The rise of COVID-19 has disrupted the entire sporting world, from recreational sports all the way up to the professional leagues. In Europe, with the pandemic nearing a halt, major soccer leagues have begun to start up again. As of now, these leagues are the only major live sporting events happening around the world. Here is a quick summary of European soccer along with a rundown of each of the five major European leagues and the implications upon returning.
How European soccer works:
To start, there are five major European soccer leagues: the Bundesliga in Germany, La Liga in Spain, the Premier League in England, Serie A in Italy, and finally Ligue 1 in France. Upon return, teams in each separate country will look to battle it out to both win the league, and to qualify for the Champions League, which is a tournament built with the top teams in Europe. Of course, the presentation will be dramatically different with no fans in attendance, but the soccer community is looking forward to seeing the teams back in action.
The Bundesliga resumed on May 16. Bayern Munich is in a great position to win the league; however, they have Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig hot on their tails. Looking at the Champions League race, five teams are battling it out for four spots. Likely, it will be a tight race between Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach for that fourth spot. The Bundesliga, already three match days in, has implemented major social distancing protocols such as substitutes sitting six feet apart and masks worn by every player and staff member.
Players in Spain resumed training after being tested for the virus on May 6. La Liga has decided on a June 11 restart of play. For the most part, it is a two-team title race between Barcelona and Real Madrid. As for the Champions League, Barcelona and Real Madrid have basically clinched their spot; therefore, there are two places available. Look for Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe and Atletico Madrid to contend for those spots.
The government in England has decided to let clubs practice again, and the league has been cleared to start on June 17. Liverpool has clinched the Premier League title after their near perfect season. However, there are still Champions League implications with Manchester United, Chelsea and Wolves fighting for two spots if the Manchester City Champions League ban is held.
Teams in Italy have already been training together, looking forward to the recently confirmed June 20 start date. It is a two-team title race, with both Juventus and Lazio looking to secure the Serie A title. The Italian Champions League representatives are all but decided with Juventus, Lazio and Inter Milan, Atalanta, and Roma securing the five spots.
The French government and representatives from Ligue 1 have decided to cancel this year’s season with Paris Saint-Germain named champions. Marseille and Rennes have been named to go forward with PSG in the Champions League.