Football thoughts: Heading in to the New Year

Some leagues decide it best to take a winter break at this time of year; others like the Premier League choose to pack the schedule with more games than clubs can probably manage. Regardless of the situation every league has some major talking points and some interesting stories developing heading in to 2020. From title chasing sides to teams scrapping to avoid relegation, here is what I am looking forward to developing over the festive period and beyond. 

Belgium - The bad Kompany at Anderlecht 

The Belgian First Division looks one sided at this moment in time. Club Brugge's goals conceded column is still in single figures and the sides below them look incapable of going on the kind of run required to catch Simon Mignolet and co. The main story for me is the situation at Anderlecht. With 34 league titles to their name they are far and away the biggest side in the division but Vincent Kompany's arrival has not gone to plan. He stepped down from match day duties early in the season, before there was another appointment and before long I lost track. The club were fined as Kompany did not have the required license to manage. A mess is to put it lightly. To make matters worse, they sit 10th and results have picked up when Kompany has not been in the starting line up.

Should Kompany focus on his playing career or end it and concentrate on beginning his managerial career? 

Player or manager?
Picture: talksport.com

England - Si Señor - There's something that the Kop want you to know

Is this finally the year? Liverpool is odds on for the Premier League title and has been, by a great distance, the best side in the league this season. The reds have continued on from last season and seen their title rivals stutter beneath them. They do of course hold the record of being the only team to hold top spot on Christmas day and still fall short. With the arrival of Minamino from Salzburg the forward options available to Jurgen Klopp look stronger than they have in recent seasons. If an injury crisis is avoided, particularly at the back, I for one cannot see them being stopped. Can Manchester City go on another big winning run and get back into contention?

Optimism is rife among Tottenham fans after the appointment of Jose Mourinho - Will he finally deliver the club a league title?

France - League champions to relegation stragglers in two seasons

Since winning Ligue 1 in 2017, Monaco has seen an exodus of top players. They managed to finish runner up to PSG the following season but the 13 point gap has become much more in the season and a half that has followed. An astonishing collapse last season seen Leonardo Jardim sacked and replaced with football legend Thierry Henry. The move failed to lift the club's fortunes and before we could get used to Henry in the dugout, Jardim was back at the helm. Two points is all that separated Monaco and the drop last season. The recovery has begun this season and Jardim's side sit 9th. It would be a remarkable turnaround to finish in a European spot but despite a squad full of highly regarded names, consistency has deserted them. It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.

Ex-Premier League duo Fabregas and Slimani play their trade with Monaco.
Picture: theScore.com


Germany - Title race for the ages

Bayern Munich's dominance in Germany stretches to seven successive league titles. Boasting a team with the likes of Lewandowski, Coutinho, Coman, Kimmich and Gnabry the possibility of it being eight straight league titles remains high. However, four defeats in the first 16 league games have given room for the likes of RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach to lead the pack. Borussia Dortmund remains in contention but it could ultimately come down to who the Bayern hierarchy choose to lead the club forward. The talent is there in the squad to maybe even go for the Champions League but the appointment of the right manager will be crucial. If they slip up, there are three or four teams ready to pounce and collect a first league title outside of Bavaria since Borussia Dortmund in 2012. 

Italy - Are Inter Milan and Lazio the real deal? 

Maurizio Sarri had a tough spell in charge at Chelsea. He led the club into the top four, the league cup final and won the Europa League in his first and final season in charge. The Chelsea fans never took to him or his playing style so he might have been looking forward to an easier run at Juventus. They have, like Bayern in Germany, dominated for so long with eight consecutive league titles. Napoli has been the only contender in the last two seasons, finishing four points off Juventus in 2018. Last season was more one sided. Inter Milan; under Antonio Conte have looked the real deal. Another former Chelsea boss, he has led the sleeping giants to stand toe to toe with Juventus since the season started. They may not be the only challenger as Ciro Immobile-led Lazio have put together a winning streak and recently beat Juventus to pull themselves in to the mix. Is it time for another dominant reign to end?

Who wins the title?
Picture: dailymail.co.uk

Scotland - Will Rangers or Celtic be champions?

The great rivalry has resumed this season. Financial woes behind them, Rangers under Steven Gerrard look the real deal and ready to maintain a challenge this season. Celtic has been top boys for a number of seasons and recently beat their old firm rival in the cup final, following on from a 2-0 league success earlier in the season. It looks as though Celtic still hold a slight edge over their historic foes but all good things must come to an end and the league title looks like it could well come down to the fixtures between the two sides in the league this season. 

Spain - Where are the goals? 

Real Madrid and Barcelona are neck and neck at the top. For a number of seasons under Diego Simeone Atletico Madrid have been genuine contenders but at time of writing only Alvaro Morata has scored more than two league goals in the squad. Joao Felix has failed to live up to his massive price tag but he is still only 20 years old. The goals have also dried up for Diego Costa leaving Simeone with a real problem heading into the second half of the season. With Barcelona and Real Madrid not over convincing thus far, the opportunity is there for Atletico to challenge, even win the title if they can find their shooting boots. They could do with emulating their city rivals - Karim Benzema has been on top form this season.

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