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Forecasting the Top Five title races in Europe

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool FC - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Naby Keita of Liverpool (L) is challenged by Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium on September 15, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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We’re at, near, or past the midway points of the season for the top five leagues in Europe, and only two look like complete runaways.

[ MORE: FA Cup draw ]

Let’s face it: the ideas that unbeaten Juventus blowing a nine-point lead over Napoli or Paris Saint-Germain would throw away a 13-point lead (with two matches-in-hand!!) is absurd.

But will Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, and/or Barcelona hold on to multi-win leads atop their respective tables? Let’s dissect this a little bit.


Bundesliga

TeamGPWDLGFGAGDHomeAwayPTS
Borussia Dortmund1713314418268-1-05-2-142
Bayern Munich1711333618184-3-17-0-236
Mönchengladbach1710343618188-0-02-3-433
RB Leipzig179443117147-2-02-2-431
VfL Wolfsburg17845272253-3-35-1-228
Eintracht Frankfurt178363423114-1-34-2-327

Niko Kovac’s first season at Bayern Munich has not gone according to plan, though the Bavarians have climbed back to within six points of leaders Borussia Dortmund.

The big match between the two clubs is April 6 at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, and Bayern has taken two of three matches between the pair this season. Bayern last lost a home league match to BVB in 2014, and has won the last six titles.

The pressure on BVB will be immense as the season moves toward May, and incredibly FiveThirtyEight’s forecasting model has Bayern with a 65 percent chance to win the league.

Germany Soccer Cup

Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic, 2nd from right, is celebrated after scoring the opening goal during the German soccer cup, DFB Pokal, match between Borussia Dortmund and second division club Union Berlin in Dortmund, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

AP


Serie A

TeamGPWDLGFGAGDHomeAwayPTS
Juventus1917203811279-1-08-1-053
Napoli1914233717208-2-06-0-344
Inter Milan1912343114177-1-15-2-339

On one hand, Napoli hosts Juve in their second match of the Serie A season. On the other, Juve just wins everything every darn year and would likely have to drop 10 more points than the Neapolitans the rest of the way. FiveThirtyEight says it’s a 92 percent likelihood Juve wins again.

Torino FC v Juventus - Serie A

TURIN, ITALY - DECEMBER 15: Cristiano Ronaldo (C) of Juventus celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot with team mates during the Serie A match between Torino FC and Juventus at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on December 15, 2018 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

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Ligue 1

TeamGPWDLGFGAGDHomeAwayPTS
Paris SG1715205010409-0-06-2-047
Lille1910452919106-3-14-1-434
Lyon18954302196-2-23-3-232

Hahaha. Hahahahah. Hahahahahahahaha.

Yeah, just let PSG have the second half of the season off to focus on the UEFA Champions League. FiveThirtyEight has it at better than 99 percent.

APTOPIX France Soccer League One

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, left, reacts with PSG’s Neymar, celebrating after he scored his side’s second goal during the League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Lille at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

AP


La Liga

TeamGPWDLGFGAGDHomeAwayPTS
Barcelona1812425020306-2-16-2-140
Atlético Madrid189812613137-2-02-6-135
Sevilla189633118136-2-13-4-233
Alavés18945211835-4-04-0-531
Real Madrid18936262336-1-23-2-430
Betis18756212104-3-23-2-426
Getafe18675191544-1-42-6-125

The draw between Atleti and Sevilla on Sunday is just the latest nice moment for Barcelona’s title hopes, as the Blaugranas boast a five-point lead on the field and a 10-point advantage on traditional rivals Real Madrid.

Really, though, the title could be sorted in a one-week stretch in late February and early March. After a Champions League first leg at Lyon, Barca goes to Sevilla and Real Madrid on back-to-back league weekends. Win both, and call it a season. It’s 86 percent for Barcelona, according to FiveThirtyEight, with three teams boasting single-digit hopes.

Tottenham Hotspur v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group B

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03: Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal with teammates Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic during the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between Tottenham Hotspur and FC Barcelona at Wembley Stadium on October 3, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Premier League

TeamGPWDLGFGAGDHomeAwayPTS
Liverpool2117314910399-1-08-2-154
Manchester City21162356173910-0-16-2-250
Tottenham Hotspur2116054621256-0-310-0-248
Chelsea2113533816226-4-17-1-244
Arsenal2112544631158-2-14-3-341
Manchester United2111554332116-3-15-2-438

We saved the best for last (with apologies to BVB and Bayern).

Four of the Top Six -- no Manchester United is not really in the discussion -- are still alive in the Champions League, and both Chelsea and Arsenal know they can qualify for the UCL via the Europa League crown (how about a UEL final together, draw fixers?).

Yes, Liverpool has lost back-to-back games, but they don’t play Man City again and didn’t use most of their best talents in Monday’s FA Cup loss at Wolves.

The idea that the Reds will drop four more points than Man City isn’t insane, but there are few really tricky stretches for Liverpool. They’ll face Bayern Munich and Manchester United in a five-day February span, but get Spurs and Chelsea at home.

Man City has Arsenal, Spurs, and Chelsea at home, with the Manchester Derby away, a favorable mix, while Spurs host Man Utd and Arsenal while traveling to City, Liverpool, and Chelsea (the last one Sunday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Put another way -- and barring a prolonged injury issue -- Liverpool losing a hold of their first PL title would be a legitimate choke job, to the tune of a Reds title being 73 percent according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

APTOPIX Britain Soccer Premier League

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, right, shoots and scores the opening goal of the game during their English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Ethiad stadium, Manchester England, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

AP

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