With most leagues around the world at the half way stage, thought I would just find out the who’s who from some major ones and the I-League. Of course, in some countries the season has ended and Champions have been crowned and some of these are being mentioned as well.
The I-League is 10 games old, though four teams have played nine games each with a couple of games having to be postponed owing to the great terror tragedy in Mumbai. Sporting Club de Goa lead the table with 22 points from ten games, four points clear of Fed Cup Champions Mohun Bagan. Churchill and Air India are third and fourth.
Churchill not surprisingly are the most prolific in the goal-scoring department with 17 goals. 11 of these have been scored by the Nigerian Odafe Onyeka Okolie. Wikipedia stats tell me that the 23 year old has as of now scored 99 goals in 88 appearances for Churchill over three seasons! World Player of the Decade for Odafe?
England Premier League
Liverpool, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Arsenal are the top 5 going into Boxing Day in England and it is a 1 point gap at the top after 18 games. (Man U are 7 beind Pool but with 2 games in hand and so Man U supporters in Bangalore have been heard to say…we are just 1 off…haha).
Chelsea have scored 36 goals in their 18 games and have conceded just seven, emerging as the most prolific offensive and most miserly defensive team. In fact their seven goals conceded at this stage is the best across all major leagues in Europe. Anelka has scored 14 and is comfortably on top of the scorers chart.
Hull presents an interesting case with a ranking of six, with 27 goals scored and 31 conceded, thereby being one of the highest ranked teams with a negative goal difference anywhere on the planet.
A Christmas fairytale for TSG Hoffenheim, sitting on top with 35 points after 17 games. Its all very close though and only 3 points separate the top 5 and it will be interesting to see if Ralf Rangnick’s boys can hold on till the end of the season.
Hoffenheim have not just taken the points, they have done it well as clearly proven by their 42 goals. Bosnian Vedad Ibišević heads the scoring charts with 18 goals and Hoffenheim’s ability to keep hold of him in the winter and keep him fit till the summer may be crucial to their title challenge.
French Ligue 1
It’s all predictable in France with Lyon (38 points) at the top albeit with only a three point lead over Bordeaux. Stade Rennais and PSG are third and fourth.
Marseille are the top goal scorers with 33 in 19 games and you can see that this season Ligue 1 is a little subdued.
Toulouse are seventh and have scored 19 goals as a team but 12 of them have been scored by Frenchman André-Pierre Gignac, which will certainly make him hot property in January as well. FYI, Karim Benzema is on 10 goals and justifying all the hype that surrounds him.
Spain La Liga
If there is one team in Europe that stands head and shoulders above all others, it is Barcelona. 41 points in 16 games, ten points clear at the top, 48 goals scored and 10 conceded. That’s how you dominate! They also have the Liga lead scorer in Samuel Eto (15 goals) and then there is Messi with 10 and Henry with 8 and you have to just go wow! What a Pep!!!
Sevilla, Atletico, Valencia and Real come in next but they are all way behind the leaders. Among the other noticeable scorers in the Liga you have David Villa (12 goals) and Kun Aguero with nine.
Mention must also be made of Sporting de Gijon, who have the worst defensive record in the league having conceded 35 goals but are ranked 11th which is a rarity as in most other leagues, the teams with the worst defence are struggling in the relegation zone.
Italy Serie A
Its Jose’s Inter playing almost like Chelsea did under JM who lead the table by 6 points, with 42 points secured in 17 games. Juventus, Milan and Fiorentina follow but true to reputation, Serie A leading scorers are not so leading when compared across Europe.
Inter have 31 goals for and 11 against while Juve have 30 for and 13 against, thereby illustrating Mourniho’s ability to get his team to do just enough (and nothing more than that), consistently. Chievo meanwhile are ranked last and with only 9 goals scored are the least prolific team across Europe’s big 5 leagues.
Gilardino (Fiorentina), Marco d Vaio (Bologna) and Diego Milito (Genoa) have scored 12 each. Inter’s Ibrahimovic who is having greatness thrust upon him by his manager is at 10 goals and Juve’s Brazilian-Italian Amauri is at 11.
Turkey Super Liga
Sivasspor and Trabzonspor may not be household names, but they are the top 2 clubs at this stage in Turkey. The usual suspects Galatasaray and Fenerbahce come in next and it is all very exciting with 2 points between the top 4. (The leaders have 34 points from 16 games).
Galatsaray have scored 38 which is the best for the league. Interestingly the Super Liga has teams which match the best defensive and worst offensive performance across Europe. Kayserispor have conceded only seven goals (like Chelsea) and are ranked 7th and Hacettepespor have scored only nine goals (like Chievo) and are in a troubled 17th (out of 18) position.
Away from England, Milan Baros is showing his worth leading the scoring with 14 goals for Galatasaray.
Its AZ, Ajax, Steve McLaren’s Twente and PSV in that order in Holland. AZ have 38 points from 16 games and are 3 clear at the top.
Ajax have 38 goals, 2 more than AZ. What Ajax don’t have is Mounir El Hamdaoui, the Dutch-Moroccan star of AZ who has scored 14 times this season. Also Huntelaar, soon to be of Real Madrid has got only 6 goals for Ajax this season, and on current form he may or may not be the answer to Madrid’s problems for the season.
Its Benfica, Porto, Leixoes Matosinhos and Sporting Lisbon in that order after 12 games in Portugal.
Brazil Serie A
Sao Paulo won their sixth Championship after amassing 75 points from their 38 games in Brazil. Scolari’s old team Gremio came in second, three points behind, followed by Cruzeiro and Palmeiras. Washington (of Fluminense) was joint top-scorer with Keirrison (Coritiba) with 21 goals.
Argentina Primera Division
The Apertura leg of the complicated Primera Division in Argentina (they have another leg called Clausura and I’m not entirely sure of the structure) ended in a three way tie with Boca Juniors emerging champions after a three-way playoff. The stunning news from Argentina is that River Plate finished 20th and last. Jose Sand from 4th placed Lanus scored 15 goals to emerge top scorer from the Torneo where each team plays 19 games. BTW, San Lorenzo and Tigre were the other two teams in the three-way playoff.
Russia Premier League
Rubin Kazan, my favorite sounding team from the entire world won the Russian Premier League with some weeks to spare a few months ago. They finished with 60 points from 30 games, 4 ahead of CSKA Moskva. Dinamo Moskva and Amkar Perm followed. UEFA cup holders Zenit St. Petersburgh finished 5th, though they do have the satisfaction of scoring more goals than any other team (59).
Vagner Love, the Brazilian at CSKA Moskva scored 20 times to lead the tally in Russia.