Here’s our article on the history making title retention in Europe’s top 5 leagues by Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich and PSG.
What does the repeat league champions mean for football?
The season just gone
For the first time in history Europe’s top 5 leagues titles were retained. PSG and Juventus cruised to win the title in France and Italy respectively. Barcelona may have suffered the odd stutter but still easily won the title in Spain. For Manchester City and Bayern the position was not so straight forward as they both won on the last day of the season.
How has this happened? Money of course. Manchester City and PSG have the benefit of state backing and PSG in particular dwarf the rest of the league financially. The likes of Amiens (0-5) and Guingamp (0-9) this season regularly have to face the terrifying prospect of lining up against Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani twice a season. Even 3rd place Lyon suffered a 5-0 drubbing. PSG this season scored 3 goals or more in 20 of their 38 games. They won the league with 16 points to spare and it should have been far more were it not for a bizarre late season meltdown.
If PSG’s dominance is making a mockery of the French League then it amazingly pales into comparison to Juventus’ treatment of Serie A where they wrapped up their 8th consecutive title with 5 games to spare. Their financial dominance is such that they can pay 100m Euros for Ronaldo.
Barcelona won their 8th league title in 11 years this season although only by a paltry 11 points from Atletico Madrid. To ensure that Atletico aren’t a force next season they look to be the front runner to sign Atletico star Antoine Griezmann who has said he is leaving the club. The possible transfer though is currently suffering the usual on off negotiating farce that we are used to seeing in these proposed big money moves.
Lastly Manchester City and Bayern had to wait to the last day to secure their titles beating out Liverpool and Dortmund respectively. At least some competition exists in two of the leagues.
What price for this happening again? You can pretty much be assured that PSG and Juventus will cruise to their league title. Barcelona despite an unusual La Liga season should also retain their title given the Griezmann position and the fact that Real Madrid will be involved in a 2nd go at a post Ronaldo rebuild.
It’s then left to Liverpool and Dortmund to try and prevent a threepeat of the retention of titles in the 5 leagues.
What does this mean?
For PSG, Bayern and Juventus especially the domestic dominance has lead to a focus on the Champions League as the competition to win. PSG went out comically to an underperforming injury ridden Manchester United side. Bayern were beaten comfortably by Liverpool and Juventus went out to the supreme Champions League underdog and pauper Ajax. Add Barcelona imploding against Liverpool. Manchester City’s much vaunted defence had a mistake filled loss to Spurs without Harry Kane.
So we have a Champions League final without any of the 5 league winners featuring in it. In fact only Barcelona were in the semi finals.
That Champions league under performance and with the domestic league dominance now so taken for granted that of the 5 managers it would be no surprise to see Valverde, Tuchel and Kovac all join Allegri in the employment queue next season. Now Allegri may have left for a new challenge and the others may stay but none can feel safe despite their domestic league success.
Can supporters interest be maintained as supporters of the dominant clubs see their teams sail to win after win and supporters of other clubs in the league realise their is little prospect of them ever winning anything again. Manchester Citys 6-0 win over Watford in the FA Cup final was a chilling reminder of those difficulties.
This focus on the Champions League and dominance of domestic leagues will even effect fantasy football managers and those seeking daily fantasy sports codes as higher prices for players in dominant clubs and increased rotation in domestic matches will cause constant agonising selection headaches.
The dominance of some clubs of their leagues will certainly fuel renewed efforts for a European Super league although that maybe more of a wish of PSG and Juventus than others. The English Premier League, despite back to back Man City titles, still has some semblance of competition at the upper levels and has opposed any such idea fairly emphatically.
One thing is for sure is that it’s hard to see the relationship between money and success changing in football.