Across the continent, fierce title battles are brewing as big clubs such as Bayern Munich, Manchester City and PSG realize their dominance is under threat. Leading teams from Europe’s three main leagues have been forced to ponder this question as they make managerial changes in 2023. Two of them, Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli, have suggested the same name as a potential new coach. Napoli, disappointed that Luciano Spalletti left the club when it was close to a first Serie A title in 33 years, immediately contacted Spanish coach Luis Enrique. He listened carefully to their proposal, but refused and chose Paris. However, coaches here tend to win championships before getting fired. Now, Luis Enrique looks as happy as any manager to defend his title in one of Europe’s best leagues.
Of last year’s champions, only PSG remains in first place in the “big five” domestic competitions, with a five-point advantage going into the new year. Although Luis Enrique has been criticized for his tactical principles, the title, as usual, is likely to go to PSG. Could he achieve better results in the 2023/24 season with Napoli than the other two managers? It’s unlikely that things could have gone worse for him.
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The giants of the Top 5 football leagues in Europe are losing their positions in the 2023/2024 season
Napoli won Serie A by a large margin last season, but it is already clear that they will not be able to retain their title in the 2023/2024 season. At the moment, the club from Naples is behind the leader Inter by as much as 20 points, while the gap from Fiorentina, which is in 4th position, is 5 points. Following the sacking of Rudi Garcia, who replaced Spalletti, Napoli accepted that their new coach, Walter Mazzarri, faces the challenge of simply leading the team to Europe next season.
Garcia’s record was eight wins and four defeats from 16 matches in various tournaments, which left De Laurentiis disappointed: “No games, no wins, no losses.” He was very unhappy because he believes that Rudi Garcia did not study Napoli’s performance closely enough in the previous successful 2022/23 season. Garcia sought to deliver a different football from its predecessor. However, when results turned bad and there was a conflict with player Victor Osimhen, his position weakened. Walter Mazzarri, who replaced the Spaniard, was a man who already had experience with Napoli more than ten years ago. But his results did not improve – eight games, three wins and five defeats, including a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Frosinone in the Italian Cup.
In the Bundesliga, Bayern replaced Nagelsmann with Tuchel in March, hoping to maintain their hegemony, but they failed to finish 2023 in first place. They are four points behind Bayer Leverkusen in 2024 but have a game in hand. Leverkusen, led by Xabi Alonso, is making the race for the Bundesliga title truly exciting. At the moment, the team of the Spanish specialist has 42 points in 16 matches and the goal difference is 46:12. The gap between Bayer and Stuttgart, which is in 3rd position, is already 8 points.
In Spain, Javi Hernandez, Alonso’s former Spain teammate, has struggled at Barcelona. After a successful start to their career and winning La Liga last year, Barca are in fourth place and behind Real Madrid. In addition, the Catalan club is unexpectedly inferior even to Girona, which has become a bright discovery of the current season. At the moment, Barca’s gap from the first place in which the Madrid club is located is 7 points (after 19 rounds).
Even Club World Cup winner Manchester City are facing difficulties in England. They are in 3rd place in the Premier League and are already 5 points behind the leader (Liverpool), although they have one game in hand. In England, Aston Villa, like Girona, Bologna and Leverkusen, show that they can fight with the Top clubs on equal terms. However, at the moment, only the first half of the season has been played in the best leagues in Europe and the real fight for titles is still ahead.