Club football has returned with a bang this weekend following the latest international break. But, with the season edging towards its business end, several of Europe’s established order find themselves in danger of missing out on European qualification for the Champions League spots.
Recent years in the Premier League have seen some of English football’s juggernauts miss out on a place in the top four as the so-called ‘big six’ has taken form. However, this season has seen similar patterns occur among other clubs across Europe’s top five leagues, as certain clubs usually assured of a place in the Champions League face a race to the finish line.
European Qualification Not Certain for Some of Europe’s Heavyweights
Serie A – Juventus’ Stuttering Title Defence
In Italy, defending champions Juventus are looking likely to surrender their crown to one of the Milan clubs. Having drawn away to strugglers Torino on Saturday, Andrea Pirlo‘s side now sit nine points behind Antonio Conte‘s Inter Milan, having played a game more.
Much like Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, Juventus have found winning a tenth consecutive league title to be one hurdle too far. While the Scudetto looks out of reach, The Old Lady may find themselves slipping out of the top four if their inconsistent form continues until the end of the season.
The defending champions are only ahead of fifth-placed Napoli on goal difference, and were once again indebted to the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo at the weekend – the Portuguese forward netting his 30th goal of the season to secure a point.
While club bosses have acknowledged that Pirlo’s first season as manager would never pass without its fair share of setbacks, they might find themselves with an uncomfortable decision to make if Juve were to fail to reach next season’s Champions League. The Italian giants were eliminated from this year’s edition by Porto in one of the upsets of the tournament.
Bundesliga – Borussia Dortmund Lagging Behind
One club in desperate need of Champions League football next season is Borussia Dortmund. However, it is looking increasingly likely that Edin Terzic will fail to guide the club to a top-four finish between now and the end of the Bundesliga season.
Indeed, it has been a tumultuous season for Dortmund so far. The club’s young stars were supposed to lead the charge at the Signal Iduna Park under the guidance of experienced manager Lucien Favre. However, this failed to materialise, and Favre was sacked midway through the campaign.
Interim manager Terzic has failed to oversee an upturn in form, and Dortmund currently find themselves seven points adrift of fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt.
And this despite the goalscoring form of Erling Braut Haaland, whose 21 goals in 22 league appearances have not been enough to pull his side up alongside the teams currently occupying the top four European qualification places.
Premier League – Teams at Risk of Missing Out on European Qualification
And what of the Premier League? Liverpool may only be two points off the Champions League spots but its a far cry from where the Reds expected to be this season.
The Blues’ defeat will have been equally well-received by Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho, who will be plotting a way into the Champions League positions knowing that his side has a superior goal difference to those of their London rivals.
With so much still to play for across Europe, the Champions League will certainly be missing some of its most familiar names and faces next season.