Whereas last year title races across Europe went to the wire, with Manchester City pipping Manchester United with the last kick in the English Premier League, Real Madrid storming home ahead of Barcelona in the final weeks of the season, and the same for Borussia Dortmund and Juventus in Germany and Italy, this year has been a procession.
Manchester United are currently 15 points ahead of Manchester City in the Premier League. It is almost impossible for City to catch their rivals. The odds are almost insurmountable, even if they did haul them in last year, but then that was a gap half as big as this and it still went right to the last kick of the season.
In Italy Juventus are cantering home without so much as a challenge put up by their rivals. AC Milan had practically lost their hopes of the title before a ball was kicked, and they floundered early on, even if they are resurgent now. Inter Milan had a decent start, ended Juve’s long unbeaten run but fell away. Napoli have been the most consistent threat but lie nine points adrift and seem unable to put together the kind of form that will really threaten the Bianconeri.
In Spain Barcelona have cruised through the campaign, and 18 wins in their first 19 basically won them the league. That had Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid conceding defeat remarkably early as Barcelona roared away in the distance. Atletico Madrid tried valiantly to keep touch but couldn’t. The league is certainly over there.
If any league was done and dusted already though it is the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich are 20 points clear, a huge margin, and are on course for a record breaking season. They could win the league in style, earlier than any team has ever done before, with an unbelievable defensive record. Borussia Dortmund have never been in this year’s title race, after Bayern roared away with seven straight wins at the start of the season.
Even in France things seem rather one sided. Notoriously hard to buy, Paris St Germain were unable to beat Montpellier to the title last year. Yet this time around they sit five points clear of Olympique Lyonnais, and it would take some effort to haul in the Parisians this year, even if Paris St Germain seem to drop points whenever it seems least likely.
Elsewhere in Europe, the same lack of competitiveness at the top is evident. In Greece Olympiakos won the title in record breaking time, cruising to the championship with ease. Galatasaray have had a rather straightforward run to the title so far, even if they are not quite far away from Besiktas and co. for comfort. CSKA Moscow have taken decisive control in Russia, and Shakhtar Donestk have won 25 out of 26 games in the Ukrainian league. In Scotland Celtic are so far ahead they are practically sipping bubbly already. The only serious leagues which are remotely competitive at present are Portugal and the Netherlands. In Portugal, Benfica are four points clear of Porto, but both of those teams are unbeaten still this season. In the Netherlands, Ajax are just ahead of PSV, with Feyenoord clinging on in the title race and Vitesse still hoping.
They are very much the exception though. The 2012-13 season will be remembered as the year of the procession.