The European Hangover - Hangover Binge 2/3/19

Following on from the most recent Hangover which focused on the Bundesliga, Dortmund went on to lose to lowly Augsburg, making the prediction of both myself and Scott McKenzie of Dortmund Hibsing it look very sound indeed. So it looks quite fun at the top in Germany, but what about one of the other major leagues on the continent? Is the title all but over or is there hope for a title race in Spain?

It feels like Barcelona's title to lose. They hold a 7 point lead over second placed Atletico Madrid going into match day 26, and Barca's domestic consistency has been very much on point since Ernesto Valverde took over at the start of last season. There are also inconsistencies with both Atleti and Real Madrid which will hope the Catalan giants, but will El Clasicó turn the tide?

On Barcelona, they have reached yet another Copa del Rey final after dumping Real 3-0 in Madrid during the week. There is every chance that a treble could be on the cards for Messi and co, the Champions League is not out of the question either. Whether they can get past Valencia in the final at the Estadio Benito Villamarín will be of keen interest, but they will certainly be favourites.

The biggest excitement at the top of La Liga is whether lowly Getafe can remain I the top 4 and secure Champions League football next season. This would be Leicester City levels of shock should they achieve this (has Rodgers taken credit for that league win yet by the way?) and the work done by José Bordelas cannot be underestimated. It would really shake things up to have a different kind of Spanish side make the Champions League. Can they do it? Teams like Sevilla, Real Betis, Real Sociedad and Valencia are all in with a shout to catch them, but none of them look like they can go on a run of 5 wins that I think would be required to do so. And for those of you who listen to the Isco Inferno, that is NOT a prediction!

Appropriate to talk about Spain is it is (as eluded to earlier) El Clasicó weekend! This will be on both Premier Sports 1 and Eleven Sports 1, with kick off at 19:45 on the Saturday. That surely signals the end of Eleven Sports long term if they cannot even hold exclusive rights to their only league, and if it does go to Premier Sports I think that would be brilliant, as that would mean an equal spread of European leagues across BT and Premier. As far as the game is concerned, Real didn't play badly midweek despite the 3-0 loss, if they can play the same but actually put the ball in the net, they have a chance.

A game to keep an eye out for on the Sunday evening is Napoli v Juventus in the Serie A, which will be on Premier Sports 1 at 19:30. Second v First. Last chance for any form of title race in Italy. Can Napoli do it? It's a big ask, but cracks are beginning to appear in the Great Wall of Juve. Their all but certain elimination for the Champions League, as well as their domestic cup thrashing in the Quarter Finals, means that the only thing they seem to be able to play for us an unbeaten domestic season. So if the result was to go the way of the southerners in Naples, what can Juve possibly be happy about from this season? And to ask that question after the major investment made last summer, would be a sad indictment on Allegri.

As always, happy watching!

James Forrest (@No_Not_That_1)

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