The top five leagues have decided the winners and the losers. There were no surprises in Germany and Italy, but in France, England, there were upheavals, while in Spain, it took until the last day to determine the league winner. We also saw new talent coming through and the old horses learning new tricks.
English Premier League
For the first time in 20 seasons, Arsenal under Arsene Wenger will be playing outside the Champions League. The Gunners missed the “fourth place” trophy by a point to Liverpool even though the future of Wenger is still in the clouds. Harry Kane scored seven goals in the last two matches to end the season as top goal scorer with 29 goals.
Chelsea won the league with 30 wins out of 38 league matches – a record as they waved bye to John Terry and possibly Diego Costa, who scored 20 league goals. New manager, Antonio Conte won a fourth consecutive league title, after two years sabbatical with the Azzurri. After losing his England post ignominiously, Sam Allardyce conjured an escape from relegation for the Eagles to preserve his proud record of having never been relegated as a manager. Britain’s north lost Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull City though Newcastle under Rafa Benitez would try to fill the northern void.
Bayern Munich became champions for the third consecutive time but they will start next season without two legends – Philip Lahm and Xavi Alonso, who both retired from football at the end of the season. As usual, the Bundesliga threw up some young guns. First timers, RB Leipzig came second and had 21-year-old Timo Werner finished the season with 21 goals and an average age of 24. Hoffenheim came fourth with 29-year-old Julian Nagelsmann at the helm. Hamburg needed a 2-1 win on the last day to preserve their status, as been the only team that has never been relegated from the Bundesliga.
Italian Serie A
Juventus won an unprecedented sixth consecutive title – the third under the management of Massimiliano Allegri. The Old Lady have also won the Coppa Italia and are in the hunt for the treble as they are in the final of the UEFA Champions League, with Real Madrid standing before them. With the cream of the best players in the league, the purchase of Gonzalo Higuain paid off with 24 league goals and their defence has been rock solid – conceding just 26 goals all season. For Roma and Napoli, there could be said to have been improvements but they need better benches to compete next season. Whether Napoli can keep 27-goal Dries Mertens would be the question of their summer?
French Ligue 1
Finally, PSG were dethroned by the young turks of Monaco, appreciably led by Leonardo Jardim. Radamel Falcao retuned his game and scored 30 goals, helped by the vibrant youthfulness of Kylian Mbappe. PSG won the Cup but would look again at strengthening an already strong squad to mount a closer quest for the Champions League. Edinson Cavani proved that there is life after Zlatan Ibrahimovich as Nice ran a good race with Mario Balotelli hogging the headlines. Marseille and Lyon need to make drastic changes in the summer to be able to compete next season but Lyon would have to do that without Alexandre Lacazette.
Spanish La Liga
The winner was determined on the last day as Zinedine Zidane led Los Blancos to first league title since 2012. Cristiano Ronaldo signed a new lucrative contract and became a more inside box finisher. His goals led his team to the title as they showed their depth in squad. For Luis Enrique, it was almost the right sendoff but they finally came up short as Real held their nerve. The Catalans have said they would announce their new manager on May 29 – which is very good, as the squad needs serious freshening in the summer because Lionel Messi will not continue to sort out their challenges. Tony Adams took charge of a beleaguered Granada and promptly led them to seven straight defeats as they were relegated.
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