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Surprise leaders see eyes raised across European leagues

Although PSG and Juventus are on track to win their respective leagues again, shocks could be on the cards around Europe.

Surprise leaders see eyes raised across European leagues
Getty Images / Bongarts

October's international break offers the ideal chance to assess the state of play in each of Europe's top five leagues.

With giants such as Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich lacking form in their respective leagues, the door has been opened for some surprise names to start 2018-19 well.

Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla fans will spend the international fortnight gazing at the Bundesliga and LaLiga tables, with their teams topping the tree against the odds.

With a couple of months of the season played, but plenty of action still to come, we take a look at how Europe's major leagues are shaping up...

Sevilla lead LaLiga with Real Madrid, Atléti and Barça playing catch-up

After Barca won their first four games - including an 8-2 hammering of Huesca - Ernesto Valverde's men looked on track to defend their title. But they have not won domestically since, while Real Madrid are also stuttering having failed to score in four straight games in all competitions. Sevilla have taken full advantage of Barca and Madrid's stumbles with Pablo Machin's men top of the table after taking 16 points from eight games. Their first game after the international break? Barca at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Atletico Madrid started badly but have gone five without defeat in the league to sit third, with Espanyol and Deportivo Alaves also in a top six that is only separated by two points. LaLiga's title race looks wide open.

Borussia Dortmund storming the Bundesliga

The Bundesliga also has a surprise pace-setter, with Borussia Dortmund leading the way after going unbeaten in their first seven matches under Lucien Favre. BVB have been thrilling to watch with Jadon Sancho's fine form in a series of substitute appearances earning a maiden England call-up, while Paco Alcacer tops the Bundesliga scoring charts with six goals. Bayern boss Niko Kovac is already under pressure with his side only sixth after taking one point from their last three league games. Alassane Plea's goals have fired Borussia Monchengladbach into third, one spot below RB Leipzig, who battered Nurnberg 6-0 on Sunday. Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen, second and fifth last term respectively, languish just above the relegation zone.

Tuchel taking to Ligue quite well with PSG off to a flyer 

Unlike in Spain and Germany, France's top division is going to the script with PSG utterly dominant since the arrival of new boss Thomas Tuchel. Nine wins from nine has set a new Ligue 1 record, with a 5-0 demolition of Lyon on Sunday - in which Kylian Mbappe scored four times in 13 minutes - a show of strength. Monaco, champions in 2016-17, are 18th having won just one game this season, while Nice are in the bottom half under Favre's successor, Patrick Vieira. Lille, for whom Jonathan Bamba has scored seven times in the league, are at the front of the chasing pack but they are already eight points behind runaway leaders PSG, for whom more domestic dominance looks inevitable.

Ronaldo helping Juventus to a good start in Serie A

Juventus also appear to be well on the way to defending their title, with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo helping Massimiliano Allegri's side to maximum points from eight games. Ronaldo had a slightly slow start but has now scored four in Serie, the same as the man he replaced, Gonzalo Higuain, whose goals have lifted AC Milan into the top half after their poor opening to the campaign led to speculation over the future of coach Gennaro Gattuso. Like city rivals Milan, Inter stumbled in the campaign's early weeks but have since won four in a row to move third, with Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli a place higher but still six points behind Juve. Serie A's top scorer is prolific Poland striker Krzysztof Piatek, who has hit nine goals for Genoa and is already being linked with Barcelona.

Pep, Klopp and Sarri setting the pace in the Premier League

After Manchester City's record-breaking romp last term, the Premier League is shaping up to be much more competitive this season. City, Chelsea and Liverpool have all taken 20 points from eight games, with none of those clubs yet tasting defeat in the league. London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal are only two points back after strong recent runs of form, while Manchester United are seven points off the top despite Saturday's stirring 3-2 comeback to beat Newcastle United easing the pressure on Jose Mourinho. Bournemouth have made a flying start while Championship winners Wolves are seventh having taken 13 points out of the last 15 available.

Old Firm under pressure

Although not one of Europe's 'big 5' leagues, an interesting pattern has been developing in the early stages of the Scottish Premiership. Normally dominant Celtic lie in third position after eight games, while Steven Gerrard's new-look Rangers team are two points back in sixth. The current top two are both Edinburgh clubs - Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian. Could there be a huge shock on the cards in Scotland?

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