The European football season is hotting up. The Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League are all past the halfway point of the group stages. Domestically, the top five leagues on the continent are beginning to take shape.
Title contenders are announcing themselves to their rivals, while relegation candidates are already looking over their shoulders at the threat of the daunted trap door. But as each division is shaken down, a few unusual remains still remain toward their respective league’s summit.
The Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga are usually dominated by a handful of teams, yet this year may very well be different. Here are three teams that are currently upsetting the apple cart in each.
Sorry Spurs fans. We know, you’re a – somewhat anyway – big club. But let’s face it, did any of you expect to be top of the Premier League having lost your talisman, Harry Kane, in the summer? If any of you say you did, you must be lying.
Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham revolution seemingly knows no bounds. The North London outfit currently tops the pile in the English top flight, two points clear of rivals Arsenal and reigning champions Manchester City.
Admittedly the sports betting markets don’t fancy their chances of staying there, with some websites pricing them with odds as long as 9/1. Victories over both Liverpool and Manchester United have already outlined their title credentials, but how long can they stay in the running?
La Liga has historically been dominated by two teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Admittedly over the last decade, Diego Simeone has turned Atletico Madrid into a challenger, leading Los Rojiblancos to two Spanish titles as well as the Europa League and two Champions League finals, but they are still a distant third to their illustrious rivals. This term, however, Simeone’s men aren’t the ones taking the fight to the two Spanish behemoths.
At present, that’s an honour that goes to lowly Girona. The Catalonian outfit was only promoted to the Spanish top flight 18 months ago. Despite this, they’re currently second in the La Liga standings, only behind league leaders Real Madrid on goal difference. They’re three points clear of the aforementioned Atleti and the reigning champions, Barcelona, are a point further back.
In Ukrainian striker Artem Dovbyk, Girona has one of Europe’s most lethal marksmen. He’s already fired five goals so far this term, and more may well follow.
The wounds of 2002 are still sore at the BayArena. That year, Bayer Leverkusen lost both the Champions League and DFB Pokal finals, as well as missing out on a maiden Bundesliga on the final day of the season. It’s taken over two decades, but former Spanish playmaker supreme Xabi Alonso may very well be leading them back to the promised land.
Leverkusen currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga, two points clear of reigning champions Bayern Munich. New signing Victor Boniface has taken the league by storm and has found the net seven times already. Add to that the talent of attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz, and it’s clear that Die Schwarzroten are finally contenders once more.