It has come to that time of year. The days are getting longer and warmer, so it must mean that the big European soccer leagues and tournaments are reaching their dramatic endings.
If you like to have a bet on soccer you will already know that this season has been exciting across the big leagues in England, Italy, Spain and Germany. That doesn’t even include the drama that the three European club competitions have served up. Many of the competitions have not even been able to declare a winner yet – but here are our five soccer teams that stood out for us in the 2021/22 season.
We kick off with the EPL’s Liverpool. At the time of writing it was still in the hunt for a quadruple – the Champions League, the EPL title, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. To battle so far on all four fronts has to be applauded at this stage of the season.
Although Liverpool is hardly a plucky underdog, it is going up against clubs with much deeper resources. Much of the credit has to go to Jürgen Klopp, who has changed the atmosphere around the club and returned it to the top tier both domestically and in European competition.
Real Madrid, La Liga
Money does buy success in European soccer. But Real Madrid has forever been battling with Barcelona for supremacy in Spain – and this season it has come out way in front. The La Liga title has already been won and there is a Champions League final to look forward to at the end of May.
There has been some very intelligent recruiting in recent seasons by Los Blancos. The club still has a lot of money to throw around, but younger players have been prioritized compared to the galacticos of old. Add to that the incredible performances of Karim Benzema – and it is fair to say it has been a memorable season in Madrid.
Milan, Serie A
It may seem strange to include a club that exited the group stage of the Champions League in an article about the best in Europe. But Milan’s season has been extraordinary. City rivals Inter won the Serie A title last season, but could never have dreamt that its main challenger this year would be the Rossoneri.
After being the team to beat in Italy in the 1990s, Milan’s stock had fallen way behind Juventus and even Inter after last season. But it is Stefano Pioli’s side that has led the way this year – and a scudetto for the first time in 11 years would be the perfect end to the campaign.
Manchester City, EPL
Liverpool’s potential quadruple might be the main attraction in England, but it is another club that has played some exquisite soccer this season. Manchester City has led the way in the EPL and remained top since December. It is a sign that it is always big news if City drops any points at a weekend.
Another failure in the Champions League will take the shine off any success this season though. That is the big prize that the club’s wealthy owners desire over all others, so even another league title will not make up for that. But that’s why the club is buying Erling Haaland. Who knows how much better he will make the team?
Villarreal, La Liga
We finish off this round up of the best teams in European soccer this season with a club from a town whose total population could fit several times over in most of the stadiums of the other clubs profiled. Villarreal may not have won any trophies this season but it deserves a mention for doing as well as it did.
It is not often that there is a big surprise in the Champions League. But Villarreal beat Juventus and Bayern Munich in this year’s competition, before finally falling to Liverpool in the semifinal. Clubs like Villarreal just shouldn’t make it so far, so it is only right that we salute the Yellow Submarine.