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European leagues

Europe's champions not getting it their own way

They may have been celebrating in May, but Barcelona, Juventus, Benfica and Man City are currently off top spot, while PSG, Ajax and Bayern are suffering.

Europe's champions not getting it their own way

Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus and Benfica have some work to do to get themselves back on top of their respective leagues, while Ajax, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are certainly not having things their own way either. It may still be early in the season, but we have a look around Europe's biggest club competitions to see how last year's champions are faring.

Doubts surround Barcelona

Much was expected from the winners of the last two LaLiga title after they splashed out on Antoine Griezmann in the summer. Inconsistent is possibly the best definition that can be given to Ernesto Valverde's side, a team that has already lost two games of the seven played and sits in fourth position behind Real Madrid, Granada and Atlético Madrid. The 13 points picked up is the same as Real Sociedad and Sevilla behind them in the table, and it is fair to say that despite their star-studded line-up, they have only convinced in the 5-2 wins over Real Betis and Valencia. One issue is the connection between their new striker and their talismanic number ten, with calls for the manager's head unlikely to disappear if improvements are not witnessed very soon.

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Next up: Sevilla (H) Sunday 21:00 CEST

City trailing perfect Reds

What can you do when your biggest rival wins their first seven games of the season (their club-record 16th league victory if you include the end of last season)? Well, you need to be perfect too, and over the last two seasons Pep Guardiola has been pretty close to achieving that as his side collected two Premier League titles. With five points already dropped, however, Man City are now playing catch-up but are also aware that, interspersed with Champions League and domestic cup games, Liverpool have some challenges coming up including Leicester, Spurs and a trip to Old Trafford before the two favourites for this year's title collide.

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Next up: Wolves (H) Sunday 15:00 CEST

Inter surprising Juventus

The club that has dominated Serie A - to a point of almost killing the excitement - for most of the last decade, may not have everything their own way this season. Juventus may have continue adding to their squad in the summer, however, the development of Inter Milan under new manager Antonio Conte, and the continued strength of Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti, could give us a title race. The Old Lady remains the clear favourite to survive the challenge, but currently sits two points behind the Milanese club, and some of the performances, despite having a fully fit Cristiano Ronaldo, have been less than outstanding. This weekend should tell us rather a lot.

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Next up: Inter Milan (A) Sunday 20:45 CEST

Benfica lie in wait

The Portuguese champions sit one point below surprise leader Famalicao, with Porto on the same points. Raúl de Tomás was brought in to fire in the goals but, so far, has not been able to raise side. Fortunately his teammate Pizzi has been doing the business. A domestic cup and European fixture means a return to league action is a few weeks away.

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Next up: Tondela (A) not until 27/10

Ajax not cleaning up early on

They may be on top of the pile but the Dutch champions have not started as impeccably as last season. That has seen PSV keep pace with them and AZ are hot on their heels. The question is, can the challengers keep it up.

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Next up: Den Haag (A) Sunday 12:15 CEST

PSG suffering more than usual

The Parisian giants start their Ligue 1 campaign as hot favourites and have already taken their place at the top of the table, with 18 points. For Thomas Tuchel's side, however, that means they have dropped six points in just eight games, something they didn't not expect, and it could have been significantly more had the much maligned Neymar not got them out of jail on more than one occasion. Their next opponents lie in second, just two points behind, and will not be overawed, while Nantes and Lille are also faring well early on.

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Next up: Angers (H) Saturday 17:30 CEST

Bundesliga battles for Bayern

With an opening four wins and two draws, Germany's dominant force Bayern Munich are only just keeping themselves above the rest. RB Leipzig head a group of five teams just a point behind, and two points further back sit normal threat Dortmund.

Next up: Hoffenheim (H) Saturday 15:30 CEST

All in all, we may be set for a number of exciting title races across Europe right through to the end. Then again, the early promise may not last, and we'll be handing out several medals by the time the new year arrives...


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