Assessing which European leagues look set for a thrilling run-in

Looking for a drinking game while the pubs and bars are shut? Take a shot every time you hear a commentator or pundit refer to the ‘business end of the season’ from hereon in.

Or don’t. Because you’ll be hearing it all too often.

In early February, 90min assessed which leagues around Europe had a healthy title race developing around halfway through the season. Two months on, the season is heading into the final stretch for most divisions, where the top sides are truly tested.

There’s no better time to broaden your footballing intake than now – we all need a break from the Premier League’s fixture congestion – so here is a list of the leagues set for the most thrilling run-ins that you should switch your attention to.

Table after 30 games
1. PSG – 63 points
2. Lille – 63 points
3. Lyon – 60 points
4. Monaco – 59 points

That ‘farmer’s league’ that PSG always win with ease every season, who’d have thought?

Truth is, the stereotype is tired and overplayed; there is plenty of talent cropping up throughout the French top flight which has resulted in the gap being closed on Les Parisiens. That, and they’ve underperformed at times.

Consider also that Monaco sit fourth on 59 points, and Lille still have to play PSG and Lyon, this one could flip entirely on its head before the season is out.

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Table after 30 games
1. Atletico Madrid – 66 points
2. Barcelona – 62 points
3. Real Madrid – 60 points

Consider that Atletico Madrid had accrued 50 points from their first 19 games of the season, the fact that La Liga is suddenly a three-horse race is staggering.

No, the quality of football is hardly at its peak in Spain currently, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. Barcelona have turned around their domestic form in 2021 and Real Madrid are gaining too. Atleti, meanwhile, look shaken and, while it remains theirs to lose, will be worried.

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La Blaugrana still have to face both of their title rivals; two games that could ultimately reshape the top three yet again.

FBL-TUR-SUPERL-FENERBAHCE-GALATASARAYFBL-TUR-SUPERL-FENERBAHCE-GALATASARAY
Fenerbahce need their star man to find form | KENAN ASYALI/Getty Images

Table after 30 games
1. Besiktas – 64 points
2. Galatasaray – 61 points
3. Fenerbahce – 59 points

Back in February, all three sides were locked together on 48 points. Besiktas now have the points advantage and a game in hand, but the lead is marginal at best.

Mesut Ozil still hasn’t hit full stride for Fenerbahce and is without a goal or assist in seven appearances, which hasn’t boosted them. He could find form with more fitness, however, which could throw them into the mix again.

There is also a clash between Galatasaray and Besiktas on the third from last round of fixtures of the season, which could blow open the doors and decide the title if proceedings remain this close.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Antonio Conte’s Nerazzurri cannot take their lead for granted | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Points after 28 games
1. Inter – 65 points
2. Milan – 59 points
3. Juventus – 55 points

Injuries have largely derailed AC Milan in a largely impressive campaign that has demonstrated their resurgence in domestic means. Inter now hold a six- point advantage and a game in hand, but ten games is a long time to hold a run of form, and Inter have shown a lack of bottle in the past.

Meanwhile, the race for top four is wide open. Juventus and Atalanta sit third and fourth on 55 points each, Napoli sit fifth with 53, Roma hold 50 and Lazio sit seventh with 49, just six off the top four.

Juve must still play Napoli, Atalanta, Inter and Milan, while fans can also look forward to Roma vs Atalanta, Napoli vs Lazio and Lazio vs Milan. Big, decisive games galore in the Italian top flight – the 90s are back.

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Points after 23 games:
1. Zenit – 48 points
2. Spartak Moscow – 44 points
3. Lokomotiv Moscow – 40 points

With seven games to go, a four-point gap atop the table makes it a tense few weeks for Zenit as they go in search of the Russian Premier League title.

Lokomotiv look out of the race, but still have to play the two sides ahead of them and could just as easily fire themselves up into top spot as a result. They daren’t look back, however, as they sit level on points with two sides in fourth and fifth, and just one point ahead of sixth-placed Dinamo Moscow.

Osijek v Basel: UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying RoundOsijek v Basel: UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round
Osijek can make history with a little more fight | Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

Points after 26 games:
1. Dinamo Zagreb – 60 points
2. Osijek – 58 points
3. HNK Gorica – 48 points

Zagreb have managed to nudge themselves into the lead in the Croatian top flight after finding themselves level on points with Osijek in early February.

But while they have a game in hand, they only hold a two-point lead and still must travel to face Osijek at the end of April, in a match that will likely determine the title.

Osijek have never won a top-flight league title in their history, making them all the more determined not to let the fight slip away from them.

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