Assessing which European football leagues actually have a title race

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While fans of English football are always keen to proclaim that the Premier League remains the best and most competitive league in world football, the halcyon days of ‘the Barclays’ seem long gone.

While this season had seemed somewhat open, a return to dominance since the turn of 2021 has seen Manchester City open up a five point gap at the top of the table, with a game in hand to play.

Phil Foden
Manchester City are slowly pulling away in the Premier League | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced fans to look far and wide for their fix of football, especially in its earlier stages when Premier League football had yet to return and everyone became de-facto Bundesliga experts.

The pandemic has had a knock-on effect on the beautiful game throughout Europe and created some seriously open-ended stuff across the continent. 90min has compiled some of the most intriguing title races currently developing across Europe, so you know where to keep an eye on.

Fenerbahce signing Ozil half way through the season might be the key to going the extra yard | OZAN KOSE/Getty Images

Table after 23 games
1. Galatasaray – 48 points
2. Besiktas – 48 points
3. Fenerbahce – 48 points

It literally doesn’t get closer than this.

As if Turkish football at its peak isn’t entertaining enough with some of the most passionate fans in the game, the three mega powers of the Super Lig are all tied on points, on the same amount of games.

Fenerbahce have just recruited Mesut Ozil, too, making the Turkish top flight an interesting watch for 2021.

Romelu Lukaku, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Calcio is back to its best | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Table after 21 games
1. Milan – 49 points
2. Inter – 47 points
3. Juventus – 42 points

Ah yes, everybody’s favourite ‘retirement league’ is actually producing some of the finest football of the 2020/21 season. A drop off in Juventus’ fortunes has coincided with the rebuild of both Milan sides, making for a race for the Scudetto that looks set to go right to the wire.

Ezri Konsa, Onel Hernandez
Is the Championship the best league in England? It might be. | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Table after 28 games
1. Norwich – 55 points
2. Brentford – 54 points
3. Swansea – 53 points

While the Premier League is everyone’s top choice in England, it’s the second tier of football that often throws up the most entertaining title races.

The Championship has already seen Bournemouth fall out of the running after a bright start, but the season is long and with proceedings so close at the top, there is absolutely no predicting who will emerge as winners. For all we know, it could even be someone outside the current top three.

Danilo Pereira, Mauricio Pochettino, Neymar Jr, Leandro Paredes
Pochettino has landed the PSG job in the one year where a league title isn’t guaranteed | John Berry/Getty Images

Table after 24 games
1. Lille – 54 points
2. Lyon – 52 points
3. PSG – 51 points

France, like Italy, are smashing common misconceptions this season.

After falling at the final hurdle and losing last season’s Champions League final, Paris Saint-Germain must now show some genuine fight if they wish to remain undisputed French champions.

Mauricio Pochettino has work to do to leapfrog Lyon and Lille, especially with European competition back on the horizon.

TSV Prolactal Hartberg v FC Red Bull Salzburg - tipico Bundesliga
The Red Bull-backed side have plenty of work to do | Markus Tobisch/Getty Images

Table after 15 games
1. RB Salzburg – 34 points
2. Rapid Wien – 33 points
3. SK Sturm Graz – 28 points

While the German Bundesliga looks destined to go to Bayern Munich once more, there’s a fascinating two horse race developing in the Austrian Bundesliga.

It’s a test of nerves between RB Salzburg and Rapid Wien, who clash on 21 February in a likely season-defining contest.

PFC Ludogoretz Razgrad v Chernomoretz Burgas - Bulgarian League
Ludogoretz have two huge games on the horizon | EuroFootball/Getty Images

Table after 16 games
1. Ludogoret – 39 points
2. Lokomotiv Plovdiv – 33 points
3. CSKA Sofia – 33 points

At a glance, the Bulgarian top flight doesn’t quite seem as tight as other leagues in this list.

Consider that leaders Ludogorets only hold a six point lead and still must play both Lokomotiv Plovdiv and CSKA Sofia, however, and it ramps up. That’s six huge points that could blow the race wide open.

Dinamo Zagreb v CSKA Moskva: Group K - UEFA Europa League
Dinamo Zagreb are in for a fight for the title | Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

Table after 20 games
1. Dinamo Zagreb – 45 points
2. Osijek – 45 points
3. HNK Gorica – 33 points

Third-placed HNK Gorica are safely out of the running in what is a two-team shootout for the title in Croatia.

Zagreb have won the title every season since 2005/06 except once in 2016/17. Claiming a 22nd won’t be easy, though, with Osijek on the hunt for their first ever Croatian league title.

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