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Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Underdog teams are shaking up the top five soccer leagues

The top five leagues logos. Photo credited to: Adobe Stock

The top 5 leagues have been shaken up going into the international break, and here’s how. 

The leagues considered the  Top 5 in the world–England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, and Germany’s Bundesliga–have seen some big table changes since last year, due to various summer signings made by teams. Although some teams spent more money than ever, many are doing worse than ever. 

In the German top league, the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich, who have 33 Bundesliga titles and have won the past 10 years in a row, have dropped down to second place shockingly behind new manager Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen, who have historically been a high to mid-table club.  The team, whose market value is 523.25 million euros, while Bayern Munich’s is over 1 billion euros. Since Xavier Alonso’s takeover of the club in October 2022, the team has been on a sharp incline, winning 10 of their last 11 Bundesliga games, drawing the other one.  

Spanish powerhouses Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona, and Real Madrid all have one thing in common this season; they’re not first in La Liga. Girona, who placed 10th in La Liga last season, are currently leading with 34 points with Real Madrid trailing them with 32. Real Madrid, who won the Champions League just two seasons ago and have the most titles of all time, have a market value of over 1 billion euros, while Girona has a value of only 165 million. This is one of the smallest values in the league, but they’re on top going into the international break. Girona acquired six different players over the summer, who have each played a crucial role in Girona’s winning team. They’re a bonafide team, working together all the time instead of being 11 individual players on the field. They’ve let everybody know that their being top of the league has no chance involved; they’ve earned their place. 

Many fans don’t know how to feel about the current state of the La Liga table.

“I don’t even know what to say,” FC Barcelona fan and senior Mark Yonan said. “It’s kind of cool to see an underdog in first place, though, but I want Barca on top. They should be on top.”

In the Premier League, there are no surprises that lie in the top four in the table at the moment, but what lies below is quite surprising. Chelsea FC, whose market value is 1,000 pounds away from being worth 1 billion, is currently sitting at 10th in the table. The team has had a shocking downfall in the past few years, after winning the Champions League just 3 seasons before this one. The club was bought by American businessman Todd Boehly in June of 2022, and Boehly had but one strategy on his agenda; buy every young talent that Europe has to offer. In doing this, he destroyed team chemistry by putting players together who didn’t fit the Chelsea style of play and selling long-time valuable members of the club, including Mason Mount, Jorginho, and Kai Havertz, who were all essential in Chelsea’s Champions League victory in 2021, with Jorginho even placing third in that year’s Ballon d’Or. The team just hired a new manager, Mauricio Pochettino, and has since been on a slow incline, rising a few spots up the table, but they still have a long way to go. 

Also in the Premier League, Manchester United and Newcastle United are both failing expectations. Newcastle United placed one spot behind Manchester United last season, both earning spots in the Champions League with 3rd and 4th place respectively. Both teams have spent millions of dollars on new players over the summer, but are currently not in a position to qualify for any European competitions. The team made the decision to let Manchester United legend and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo leave the club in November of 2022, much to the outrage of their fanbase. Ronaldo was the top goalscorer for the club in the 2021/2022 season he was signed in and is now the top goalscorer in the world for 2023, with 44 goals.

Many Manchester United fans are upset at the management of the club, placing the blame on the Glazer family who owns the club, and the new manager Erik Ten Hag.

“(Manchester) United really have fallen,” junior Manchester United fan Trey Harris said. “They were once the greatest team in the world, and now they’re a joke. They really need to get back to winning ways, and they should’ve never sold Ronaldo.”

In Ligue One, the top French league, the shock lies once again outside of the top teams, but directly at the bottom. In 18th place is past French powerhouse Lyon, who used to rival the likes of PSG, even reaching the Champions League semi-finals in the 2019-2020 season. This is the worst start to the season in the team’s history, with only 7 points earned in 11 games, placing them dead last. Their summer signings were underwhelming, especially after they made so much money selling their talents to teams across Europe. 

The Italian Serie A table looks eerily similar to last year’s team, with seven of the top 8 teams still there and all four of last season’s top four are once again present in the top four. Maybe following the international break, the table will begin to change.

The world of soccer is constantly changing, will giants falling and underdogs rising all the time; this season especially. It’s nice to take a pause sometimes with an international break and reflect on how different things are. 

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About the Contributor
Quinn Graham, Sports Editor
Quinn Graham is a senior at Niles North and this is his second year working on the newspaper. He enjoys playing soccer, working, and hanging out with his friends in his free time.

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