THE STORY OF TWO SURPRISE LEAGUE LEADERS IN REAL SOCIEDAD AND NAPOLI AS THE USUAL GIANTS BEGIN THE SEASON ON THE WRONG FOOT
With the new season well underway the league tables are beginning to take shape and things have surely gone off-script. On one hand, giants like FC Barcelona and Juventus are struggling to get in their usual stride and on the other, underdog clubs like Real Sociedad and Napoli are flying high in their respective leagues. Here’s how the new campaign has fared well for the surprise league leaders and how things haven’t panned out for the usual favourites.
Real Sociedad are currently at the top in Spain and surely no one was betting on that ahead of the season. Real Madrid and Sevilla are the two high profile teams that are battling for the top spot in Spain, but the same can not be said about Atletico and Barcelona.
Barcelona are facing a myriad of problems both on and off the pitch which has affected their recent results. Now that Xavi has been hired, things might turn around for the Catalan club. According to their underlying stats, Barcelona aren’t doing too bad since they have an xG (Expected Goals) of 21.33. They are creating good goal scoring chances but their conversion rate has been very poor.
For a side with ample strikers, one would assume they score a lot more than they do right now. Barcelona are currently 9th in the league table, but their underlying stats suggest they deserve a Champions League spot. If they turn their good performances into results, Barcelona can be fighting for the title in no time, but for now, they haven’t been in their element so far. Atletico Madrid started their campaign on a strong note but in time, have been overtaken by Sevilla and Real Sociedad.
In Italy, Juventus had a horrifying start to the season after their recent loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and even though the Old Lady has managed to pull themselves back together, the intense competition in Serie A isn’t letting them make headway to the top. Juventus are currently 8th in the table but are only 4 points away from a Champions League spot. Inter Milan though are 3rd in the table but are still 7 points away from AC Milan and Napoli and this gap is only widening by the week. Both Inter and Juventus need to get a good spree of games and build enough momentum to join AC Milan and Napoli in the race for Scudetto.
AC MILAN OVERSHADOWED
On the other hand in Italy, things have been running on a similar tangent with Napoli and AC Milan way ahead of the crowd in a tight race for the Scudetto. AC Milan won the Serie A in 2011 but they soon had a heavy downfall to midtable. Season after season AC Milan have been climbing up the ladder and have finally made it to the Champions League this season. Stefano Pioli joined the Milan side in 2019 and since then they have taken off and are now back amongst Europe’s finest. Although they have made commendable progress, it is evident that they aren’t getting enough credit for it since they have been overshadowed by Napoli’s sudden surge.
Last season Inter Milan overshadowed their derby rivals by winning the league title and as we all know, no one remembers who came second. AC Milan had their revival last season but were overshadowed but Lukaku’s scoring spree and Inter’s first league win in a decade. This time they are overshadowed by league leaders Napoli. The Naples based club is currently on 32 points and is only ahead of Milan on goal difference. Both sides are unbeaten and unstoppable at this stage but the majority of the praise is sung for Napoli. AC Milan needs to overtake their fellow title contenders by a definitive margin and only then will Pioli and his mens’ efforts get the recognition it deserves.