February 12, 2013

The 2013 title races are a bore

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Where has the excitement in soccer gone? Just last year we had one of the most thrilling finishes to an EPL season that we’ve ever seen. Manchester City literally won the title in the last minute of play. This year, I’m sad to say that we won’t be seeing anything like that this year.

With City losing to relegation-battling Southampton – quite handily at that – and Manchester United defeating Everton, the gap between the first- and second-placed teams is now at 12 points. That’s too much of a gap to ask any team to choke away, especially when looking at United’s coming schedule of softies.

It’s the same deal around Europe, where most leagues have a team so far on top that the only thing that there’s competition for is European slots for next season.

In Spain, thanks to the severe struggles of Real Madrid – who actually sit in third place – Barcelona is has big 12-point lead on second-place Athletico Madrid. And good luck catching Barca, who have only lost once this season.

The German Bundesliga is usually one of the closest leagues at the top, but that’s not the case this year. Bayern Munich has looked unstoppable, amassing a 15-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund is the two-time defending champion, but we’ve actually seen four different teams capture the title in the past six seasons.

Scotland has always been a fringe league watch with only two strong teams battling at the top, but with Rangers relegated to the third division because of their financial turmoil, Celtic is now running away with the SPL to the tune of its current 18-point lead.

Even in Greece there’s no contest for the title. Olympiakos is a mighty 15 points up on PAOK Salonika. It seems like usual title combatant Panathinaikos was hurt by its Europa League ambitions, sitting in ninth place in Super League.

The two exceptions are in France and Italy. Nouveau-rich Paris St. Germain are six points up on Lyon with Marseille also close. In Serie A play, Juventus holds a five-point lead on Napoli with both Milan clubs – shockingly – not even close to the top.

So what can we do? There are a couple of options. Either you can adopt Napoli and watch them try to catch The Old Lady or hop on the PSG bandwagon and watch as they try to buy their way to the top of European football while somehow abiding by Financial Fairplay.

You could just simply start watching the races for places in Europe, or if you’re a glutton for punishment, the relegation battles. As a fan of recently relegated Blackburn Rovers, it can get pretty tense when you’re near the bottom and you’re running out of games.

Or, you can just sit back and hope one of the big underdogs can actually make a race of it. It’s in the best interest of sport to have an exciting final day. Not just for the league, but for all sports fans out there.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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