It isn't Christmas, and the league races in England, France, Germany and Spain, four of Europe's big five leagues, are for all intents and purposes over.
Real Madrid's Zinedine
isn't believing it.
"We aren't in too much of a bad place," he said after Real Madrid lost to Barcelona, 3-0, at home in Saturday's Clasico. "Soccer can change very
The numbers suggest otherwise.
Barca, which won on second-half goals from Luis Suarez
, Lionel Messi
and Aleix Vidal
, has opened a 14-point lead
over the defending champions, who are only two points closer to their Catalan rivals than the relegation zone. Atletico Madrid and Valencia are second and third, nine and 12 points off the pace at the
two-week holiday break.
Even though Barca lost Neymar
to Paris St. Germain and $200 million signing Ousmane Dembele
, who has played just 51
minutes, early in the season with a foot injury, it is unbeaten in 17 games -- 14 wins and three ties -- and has outscored its opponents, 45-7. Messi and Suarez have combined for 25 goals, and
Brazilian signing Paulinho
has stabilized the Barca midfield. Real Madrid-Barcelona
: Highlights England
. Thanks to its 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, Manchester City has opened up a 14-point lead over Manchester United after 19 games. It's won 17 straight games,
the second-longest streak ever in one of Europe’s top divisions, and heads into Christmas with 55 points, putting in on course to smash the single-season points record set by Chelsea with 95 in
The four goals on Saturday gave City 101 goals in 2017, making it the first EPL team in a quarter century to score 100 or more goals in a calendar year.
City will be chasing is that held by Arsenal's 2003-04 team. The legendary "Invincibles" (with Thierry Henry
, Robert Pires
, Dennis Bergkamp
, Patrick Vieira
and Freddie Ljungberg
) are widely considered the best EPL team ever and the only team to go unbeaten. Germany
contrast, Bayern Munich is having a subpar season, so bad it fired Coach Carlo Ancelotti
in September and replaced him with former head coach Jupp Heynckes
as a caretaker coach.
In his third tour at Bayern, the 72-year-old Heynckes has restored order to a team in disarray. Bayern has won eight of its last nine games. Its 41 points are its fewest at Christmas since
2011, but it leads the Bundesliga by 11 points over Weston McKennie
's Schalke 04. France
. In Ligue 1, Paris St.
Germain's lead over Monaco is nine points at the winter break, but no one gives Monaco, the defending champion, any chance of catching star-studded PSG, led by Neymar, Edinson Cavani
, who have combined for 38 of PSG's 58 goals in 19 games.
PSG's big test will come in February when it will face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. PSG
could run away with the Ligue 1 title but Coach Unai Emery
will likely be gone unless PSG wins the Champions League.
. The only major European league where there is a race is Serie A. Juventus, which is seeking a seventh successive league title, stayed within a point of leader Napoli when
it beat Roma, 1-0, on Saturday. Serie A is the only major league besides the EPL that will be in action next weekend when it concludes the first half of the season.