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For die-hard fans, the weekends just aren’t the same without the thrills and spills of watching your favorite team, heated local derbies, and showdowns between the best players. So let’s take a look at the biggest storylines shaping up in the major football leagues around Europe and the world.
Current champion: Manchester City
The fierce competition of the Premier League is what makes it one of the world’s most exciting leagues. This season’s title race looks wide open—Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool all have a decent shot at dethroning the current champion, Manchester City. With Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and Romelu Lukaku back to Chelsea, two prodigal sons have returned and wasted no time banging in the goals.
Current champion: Leicester City
England’s top knockout competition never fails to entertain, with several underdogs beating the more prominent teams at various stages. Given their rough start to the season, current champion Leicester doesn’t seem likely to repeat, especially given Manchester City’s depth, and that this is supposedly Pep Guardiola’s final season at City.
Current champion: Lille
Lille’s 2-1 victory over Angers on the final day to lift the Ligue 1 trophy ended years of dominance by Paris Saint-Germain. However, PSG reloaded in the summer, adding Lionel Messi to a lethal forward line of Kylian Mbappé and Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Neymar—and it’s now hard to look past the Parisians for the title this season.
Coupe de France
Current champion: PSG
PSG truly looks like France’s dominant team again this season, so we expect to see the Parisians in the final of the domestic cup. However, don’t discount wild cards like Monaco, Marseille, or Nice to snatch the cup.
Current champion: Bayern Munich
Can anyone beat Bayern Munich to lift the Meisterschale? One team might be Borussia Dortmund, which possesses one of the league’s top finishers, Erling Haaland. Bayern’s new manager, Julian Nagelsmann, guided RB Leipzig to second place last season, so it will be interesting to see how both teams fare this time around.
Current champion: Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich is naturally the favorite for the German domestic knockout cup. Still, Bayern Leverkusen, RB Leipzig, and Eintracht Frankfurt have reached the finals in recent years—and Borussia Dortmund is the current champion.
Current champions: Inter Milan
The Italians are known for their flair and passion, and Serie A is no different this season. Inter Milan needs to remain focused to defend its title, with Massimiliano Allegri back in the manager’s seat at Juventus and Jose Mourinho hoping to revitalize AS Roma’s title ambitions. But don’t count out Napoli or AC Milan from sneaking into the title race.
Current champions: Juventus
Allegri guided Juventus to four Coppa Italia trophies between 2014 and 2019, and the defending champions have to be the favorite again this year.
Current champions: Atlético Madrid
Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid shed no tears at Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona after 21 trophy-laden years. Can new Barcelona manager and hometown hero Xavi rebuild the team in time to challenge for La Liga? Will Karim Benzema continue his fine form in front of goal for Real? Or will Diego Simeone, reunited with forward Antoine Griezmann (who played his best football under Simone at Atlético), capitalize to defend the title?
Copa del Rey
Current champions: Barcelona
Barcelona routed Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in last season’s Copa del Rey final, disappointing fans of the Basque team. But there’s always a chance for a plucky underdog in Spain’s hotly contested domestic cup to create an upset.
Major European competitions
UEFA Champions League
Current champions: Chelsea
Europe’s premier mid-week competition has produced truly unforgettable games and moments as the best teams across the continent go head to head. Cristiano Ronaldo will back himself to take Manchester United deep in the competition, as will Robert Lewandowski’s Bayern Munich. Neither Paris Saint-Germain (now boasting Lionel Messi in its ranks) nor Manchester City has ever won the coveted trophy—and both teams are set up for an almighty push this season.
UEFA Europa League
Current holders: Villareal
After the Champions League, the Europa League is the continent’s next-best mid-week fix of top teams competing for silverware. Manager Unai Emery won his fourth Europa League title last season, guiding Villareal to victory over Manchester United. Top teams in the competition this season include Marseille, Lazio, Napoli, and Bayern Leverkusen.
UEFA Nations League
Current champion: Portugal
Europe’s newest cup competition is a chance to see new national rivalries emerge, so make sure you know how to securely stream all the best games. Who else but Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines last season, firing Portugal into the finals where they edged out the Netherlands, becoming the inaugural Nations League champions.
African Cup of Nations
Current champions: Algeria
Africa’s premier competition takes place every two years, pitting the best talent from across the continent against each other. Egypt is the tournament’s most successful team with seven African Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles and has Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah among its ranks. However, neighboring Algeria is the reigning champion and looks in lethal form. Nigeria and Ghana are always teams to watch, with several players plying their trade for Europe’s top clubs. The beauty of tournament football is that any underdog can have its day: Cape Verde has a history of upsetting the bigger teams, while AFCON newcomers Comoros could produce some David vs. Goliath-style headlines.
FA Women’s Super League
Current champions: Chelsea
Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, women’s soccer has plenty of excitement for fans of the Beautiful Game. In England’s Women’s Super League, Chelsea won its fourth title last season, in a close race with Manchester City, but expect Arsenal, and Manchester United to push them this time around.
National Women’s Soccer League
Current champions: North Carolina Courage
The success of the US women’s national soccer team (four Women’s World Cups, four Olympic gold medals) is predicated on the talent nurtured in its national competition, where past stars like Mia Hamm inspired a generation of players like OL Reign captain Megan Rapinoe and Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan. Analysts predict a close race this season between OL Reign and the Portland Thorns—and big things from up-and-coming players like Washington Spirit forward Trinity Rodman (daughter of NBA star Dennis Rodman).
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2021-22 football seasons
|Premier League (UK)||August 14, 2021 – May 22, 2022|
|Bundesliga (DE)||August 13, 2021 – May 14, 2022|
|UEFA Champions League (EU)||September 14, 2021 – May 28, 2022|
|La Liga (ES)||August 13, 2021 – May 22, 2022|
|Serie A (IT)||August 13, 2021 – May 22, 2022|
|Ligue 1 (FR)||August 7, 2021 – May 21, 2022|
|Eredivisie (NL)||August 14, 2021 – May 15, 2022|
|UEFA Europa League (EU)||September 16, 2021 – May 18, 2022|
|EFL Cup (UK)||August 9, 2021 – February 27, 2022|
|FA Cup (UK)||August 7, 2021 – May 14, 2022|
|DFB-Pokal (DE)||August 6, 2021 – May 21, 2022|
|Coppa Italia (IT)||August 7, 2021 – May 11, 2022|
|KNVB Cup (NL)||August 14, 2021 – April 17, 2022|
|Coupe de France (FR)||September 18, 2021 – May 8, 2022|
|Copa del Rey (ES)||November 11, 2021 – April 23, 2022|