The start of the season for the big six European soccer leagues is just days away.
The Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and Eredivisie seasons all start on August 11, and the seasons for the Bundesliga and Serie A start the following week. Each league brings different, exciting dynamics to the table that soccer fans around the world enjoy. Here is part one of my predictions for the league winner for each of the top six European leagues.
The Premier League is the best league in the world, and there are a ton of options to go through when deciding who will win the league.
As a Liverpool fan, I could very well be a little biased and pick Liverpool to win the league. I could select Manchester City to win their fourth consecutive league title, which would be their sixth in the past seven seasons. I could pick Arsenal, Manchester United, or Newcastle United to make a run at the title. I could pick Chelsea to have a massive bounce back season. Or I could pick Tottenham, except they haven’t won the English top flight league in over 60 years. The favorite is obviously Man City, but being the favorites doesn’t guarantee them a league title win.
Man City has made two additions to their squad heading into this season: Mateo Kovacic and the massive signing of Josko Gvardiol. Ilkay Gündogan left the club, but Kovacic will replace him in the midfield mix. Riyad Mahrez has also departed, but with Man City veering away from using wingers like him, his departure shouldn’t leave a massive hole.
Liverpool has seen five midfielders leave the club for the Saudi league, including club captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho. Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have been brought in to replace them, and Liverpool is also targeting Romeo Lavia for their midfield rebuild. However, there are still questions that need to be answered. I discussed Liverpool in more depth prior to the end of the 2022/23 season, and some things I stated there still ring true. Their midfield rebuild is not done yet, they still need to sign a center back, and we are still not 100% sure what the tactics will look like entering the 2023/24 season.
Arsenal, Man United, and Newcastle have been the biggest buyers throughout the summer.
Arsenal brought in Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, and Jurrien Timber for over €200 million.
Man United signed Rasmus Højlund, Mason Mount, and Andre Onana for just shy of €200 million.
Newcastle sealed deals for Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, and Tino Livramento for just shy of €150 million.
Chelsea had the most turnover of any squad, with their departures totaling over €200 million in transfer fees. That doesn’t even include the loss of N’Golo Kante on a free transfer. However, they spent over €250 million on arrivals, the biggest being the €60 million deal for Christopher Nkunku last summer. However, Nkunku just injured his knee and could be out for up to four months.
With all of that, I have decided that I’m going to pick the favorites in Man City to win the Premier League.
I believe Josko Gvardiol could be the best signing of the summer transfer window. City followed up last year’s acquisition of Erling Haaland by spending big on a young, but extremely talented Bundesliga product in Gvardiol, who fits City perfectly. I think Liverpool has a bounce back season to make the top four spots for the Champions League a tight race. However, I have Liverpool, Arsenal, and Newcastle United claiming the three other Champions League spots, in no particular order.
The league with the two clubs that are probably the most recognized around the world is La Liga, the home of the Barcelona – Real Madrid rivalry. La Liga seems to be a two-horse fight between Barca and Real Madrid, but don’t count out Atlético Madrid. Each of these three teams have won La Liga in the last three seasons. Atléti took home a surprise win in the 2020/21 season, Real won La Liga in 2021/22, and Barca prevailed in 2022/23. Real and Barca are the top contenders this season, with Real probably being the slight favorites.
Outside of the top three teams, Real Sociedad finished fourth last year and would like to return to that spot. Sevilla finished fourth in the 20/21 and 21/22 seasons and won the Europa League last year (the Europa league is the secondary European competition, behind the Champions League). Real Betis has finished sixth, fifth, and sixth in the last three seasons, and Villarreal has finished between fifth and seventh in the last three seasons as well. There’s an enormous gap in talent between these three teams and perennial powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The chasing pack has gotten close to Atlético Madrid at times recently, but the last time they finished outside of the top three in La Liga was the 2011-12 La Liga season. That season was the last in a span of 16 consecutive years where Atléti failed to finish in the top three, a span that included the club getting relegated. And with the chasing pack unable to crack the top three, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll win the league.
My pick to win the league is based on what team I think is more prepared to win from the jump. And for me, I struggle with the fact that Real Madrid has not in any way, shape, or form replaced Karim Benzema, their striker and captain. Bringing in Joselu on loan doesn’t replace Benzema at all. And the transfer window for Real was essentially used to bring in Jude Bellingham. Bellingham is a great player, but his presence makes an already crowded midfield even more crowded. Additionally, Real still doesn’t have a legit striker to pair with Vinicius Jr. in their attack after spending €103 million on Bellingham.
On the other hand, Barca haven’t lost any key pieces aside from their captain, Sergio Busquets. The difference here is that Barca have brought in both Ilkay Gündogan and Oriol Romeu, who used to be a part of La Masia (Barca’s youth academy). Everyone else who left for Barca was either no longer a part of the primary starting eleven or wasn’t much playing time. It does seem likely that Ousmane Dembele will leave Barca for PSG, but Barca does have other replacement options, such as Raphinha and Ferran Torres. Neither of them are as good as Dembele, but it’s better than having no backup plan, which is why I’m picking Barcelona to once again win La Liga for the second consecutive season.
PSG has won Ligue 1 nine of the last eleven years. However, PSG has a problem on their hands heading into this season.
What is going on with Kylian Mbappe?
PSG does not want to let him play, as he has his eyes set on leaving PSG on a free transfer to Real Madrid next year. However, it’s extremely likely that even if Mbappe plays this year, he will still leave to go to Real Madrid next year. Mbappe is part of the reason Real hasn’t signed a striker.
If Mbappe doesn’t play for PSG, they would play the 2023/24 season without him or Lionel Messi. PSG did have issues with the trio of Neymar, Mbappe, and Messi due to the fact that none of them are active defensively. To replace Messi and Mbappe, PSG are set to sign Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona to play on the right wing. They have also signed Goncalo Ramos on loan for the 23/24 season with an obligation to buy, for a deal worth a total of €80 million.
Lens finished only one point behind PSG last season. However, Ligue 1’s economic struggles make it extremely hard to mount a title challenge in back-to-back seasons. After a team challenges for the Ligue 1 title, teams from other countries typically seek to buy their best players, offering substantial prices that these French clubs can’t refuse. Lens sold their star striker, Loïs Openda, as well as Seko Fofana for a combined of €68 million during the latest transfer window.
Lille beat PSG by one point to win Ligue 1 in the 2020/21 season, then finished in tenth place the following year.
Monaco won Ligue 1 in 2016-17, took home second place the following season, and finished in 17th the next year, just barely avoiding relegation.
Additionally, whenever there is a challenger who threatens or defeats PSG, PSG normally comes back with a vengeance, dominating for the next couple of seasons before a new challenger emerges. Unfortunately, that is what I believe will happen, which means my pick to win Ligue 1 is PSG.
I do believe that Ramos and Dembele, although worse players on paper than Mbappe and Messi, might actually improve PSG due to being better fits into the team’s system as long as Neymar can stay healthy.
If I had to pick a team to make a run at PSG, I’d probably pick Stade Rennais (aka Rennes) due to their talented young core. Although they lost Lesley Ugochukwu to Chelsea, as well as a couple other players, I really like the signings of Enzo Le Fee and Ludovic Blas. I also believe that Jeremy Doku will have a massive season if he stays put at Rennes, which could lead to him making a move to one of the bigger clubs in Europe.
That wraps up part one of my two part look at the five major European soccer leagues. Part two will examine the Bundesliga and Serie A, as well as the Eredivisie, which will have already played their first games. If there’s any input you have on soccer in Europe, the U.S., or just soccer in general, make sure to tweet it out to and to tag myself @derrik_maguire and @BleacherBrawl and let us know your thoughts.