Resurrected Sevilla and Ligue 1 vultures as well
As we approach the end of the season, it was another busy weekend throughout Europe with captivating narrative twists in all five of the top leagues. The complicated position at Tottenham Hotspur and Thomas Tuchel’s less than stellar return to life in the Bundesliga are two growing scenarios that are most deserving of attention.
Spurs in crisis
There is no getting around the fact that Tottenham Hotspur are currently in utter chaos following their 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Newcastle United last Saturday. Harry Kane and his colleagues are fighting hard to finish in the top five after winning only one of their previous five Premier League games, and that victory came after a contentious VAR mistake against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Aston Villa is gaining ground on fifth place and is now only two points ahead of Fulham, who play at home on Tuesday. The Londoners are in danger and that situation could get worse this week ahead of a doubleheader against Manchester United and then Liverpool. Daniel Levy is under more criticism than ever, and it’s unclear whether Antonio Conte’s long-term replacement will be Julian Nagelsmann or Luis Enrique, who both just withdrew from consideration to lead Chelsea.
In fact, concerns over Cristian Stellini continuing in his role as temporary manager following that humiliating loss to Newcastle are growing quickly. The chore of persuading the German or the Spaniard to take over, let alone maintaining hold of Kane, could become even more difficult should Spurs’ miserable record against both United and Liverpool continue.
With 24 goals, England still far and away leads the team in goals scored, but the situation is starting to resemble that of Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, who won two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Champions League, and one UEFA Cup during his time at Anfield. Kane, who turns 30 this summer, would be lucky to receive half of that with Spurs and cannot afford to wait and see what transpires on the management front.
Tuchel’s Bayern are struggling
Which beautifully takes us to Bayern Munich. The House of Champions podcast mocked Bundesliga analyst Ian Joy earlier this season for his assertion that “something not quite right with Bayern.” However, here we are in late April with Borussia Dortmund back on top of the Bundesliga and the defending DFB Pokal and European champions eliminated.
To make matters worse, Bayern lost 3-1 away to Mainz 05 this past weekend, their second loss in a run of four games without a win, putting Thomas Tuchel in the unfortunate position of perhaps keeping Bayern from winning three titles. The fact that Bavaria failed to replace Robert Lewandowski, an issue for which Kane would be the ideal solution, has put the German strategist under more strain.
The Englishman might compete for the championships he longs for, and the German giants would have their reliable source of goals. Erling Haaland has undoubtedly closed the door on Manchester City’s previous attempt to sign the 29-year-old, which might make the Allianz Arena tempting to Kane.
Mourinho’s Roma revival
AS Roma and Jose Mourinho have benefited more than most teams and coaches from Juventus’ reinstated 15-point punishment. It may sound strange to say that the Giallorossi benefit from a Champions League qualification rival suddenly gaining ground, but the fact that the Roman team can tie Juve this Monday with a win over Atalanta is evidence of the excellent job the Portuguese tactician has done.
After an unsuccessful stint with Manchester United and a devastating stint with Spurs, Mourinho needed to rebuild his reputation before returning to Italy. The 60-year-old has won the UEFA Europa Conference League, and if successful, might also win the UEFA Europa League, bringing Roma back into the Champions League through either Serie A or the UEL.
It was always going to be difficult to end the Scudetto drought that has lasted since 2001, but Mourinho may still aim for it provided Roma keeps improving under his direction. The success of the Portuguese could possibly lead some of Europe’s powerhouses to contact him once more and task him with a new project deserving of his competence.
Regarding possible rescue attempts, few this season have been as noteworthy as the one taking place in Andalusia right now, as Sevilla went from facing relegation from La Liga to midtable security while still making it all the way to the semifinals of their cherished Europa League. After knocking Manchester United out of the quarterfinals and setting up a semifinal match against Juventus, Jose Luis Mendilibar has the six-time record holders suddenly starting to believe again.
The Spanish top division’s continental spots are definitely still out of reach at this stage, although finishing in the top half of the standings and qualifying for the Champions League through success in the Europa League are still possibilities. Considering the disaster Jorge Sampaoli left behind, four victories from six matches without a loss in all competitions is fairly good progress. It may get even better if Sevilla pull off the seemingly impossible and win big European silverware from this point.
Ligue 1 vultures?
As a result of OGC Nice’s Europa Conference League elimination last week despite leading Basel with just minutes remaining, France’s Ligue 1 is on the danger of being displaced in the top five leagues by the Netherlands’ Eredivisie. The outcome was not only disastrous for Les Aiglons but also for French soccer as a whole because several talented teams already find it difficult to qualify for the Champions League.
A feeding frenzy this summer with some outstanding players in need of continental experience would result from Olympique Lyonnais, Stade Rennais, Lille OSC, and Nice being some of the teams that might still completely miss out on Europe for the upcoming season. The idea that Rennes, Lille, and Nice could all miss out is inconceivable given that they are some of the strongest Championnat sides. OL have been absent from the scene on and off for the previous few years.