Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Europe: Winter Break Leagues Round-Up (Part 1)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 24, 2010
SV Ried

SV Ried are leading the way in Austria's Bundesliga at Christmas time

With the exception of the United Kingdom and Belgium, the vast majority of Europe’s top leagues are pausing for a winter break so Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the current state of play all over the continent.

ALBANIA: Flamurtari Vlorë (16 games, 34 points) and Skënderbeu Korçë, who are just three points behind the league leaders, are fighting it out at the top of the Albanian Superliga with a host of other teams not too far behind. KS Vllaznia Shkodër are in third position, just six points behind Flamurtari, and are well placed to challenge should the top two slip up. Capital clubs FK Tirana and and Dinamo Tirana are both three points behind KS Vllaznia and could be, at the very least, fighting it out for the European spots.

ANDORRA: The regular season in Andorra’s Primera Divisió has been completed with the top four teams – FC Lusitanos, UE Sant Julià, FC Santa Coloma and UE Santa Coloma – going through to the Championship Group which starts in January. The bottom four teams – CE Principat, Inter Club d’Escaldes, CE Benfica and FC Encamp – will take part in the relegation group.

AUSTRIA: SV Ried lead the way in Austria’s Bundesliga (37 points, 17 games), four ahead of both Sturm Graz and defending champions Red Bull Salzburg. Both of the traditional Viennese powers – Austria and Rapid  – lie just outside the European spots in fourth and fifth place respectively. At the other end of the table LASK Linz are struggling with just ten points but are a mere two points behind relegation threatened SV Mattersburg.

AZERBAIJAN: The Premyer Liqasi is led at the Christmas break from Neftchi Baku (19 games, 41 points) leading by just a solitary point from second place FK Khazar Lankaran. Once the regular season is complete after 22 games the table is split into two groups; the top six go into the Championship Group and the bottom six in the Relegation group hoping not to become one of the two teams that will lose top-flight status.

BOSNIA & HERZOGOVINA: The Premijer Liga has reached the halfway stage with FK Borac Banju Luka topping the table (15 games, 33 points), five ahead of nearest challengers and defending champions FK Željezničar Sarajevo. FK Sarajevo occupy the third European spot with only goal difference separating them from the champions. At the bottom of the table FK Velež prop up the rest of the league with just 13 points with Drina Zvornik one point better off in the second relegation spot in the 16-team league.

BULGARIA: Defending champions PFC Litex Lovech (15 games, 37 points) currently hold the way in Bulgaria’s A PFG League. At the halfway stage of the season Litex has a five point advantage over Levski Sofia with both Chernomorets Burgas and Lokomotiv Sofia four points further back. Record champions CSKA Sofia lie in fifth place and have to claw back a lot of ground if they are to maintain hope of claiming a 32nd domestic championship.

CROATIA: Dinamo Zagreb (18 games, 45 points) currently hold the lead in the Prva HNL as they hope to win a sixth consecutive title. Eternal rivals Hajduk Split are five points behind and are the only team with any hope of catching the champions as third place HNK Cibalia are a massive fifteen points behind the leaders. At the foot of the table the bottom five teams – NK Zagreb, Lokomotiva, HNK Šibenik, Istra 1961 and Hrvatski Dragovoljac – will have to work a lot harder if they are avoid the drop. With league re-structuring taking place for the 2011-12 season more teams than usual are threatened with the drop.

CYPRUS: The Cypriot Marfin Laiki League sees APOEL Nicosia (15 games, 38 points) looking comfortable at the top of the standings with seven points separating them from second place Omonia Nicosia. At the bottom AEP Paphos FC and Ermis Aradippou are most in danger of dropping straight down before the league splits into three distinct groups – Championship, UEFA Europa League qualifying & relegation – at the end of the regular season.

CZECH REPUBLIC: FC Viktoria Plzeň (17 games, 41 points) have a four point gap separating them from Sparta Prague at the top of the Grambrinus Liga. Sigma Olomouc are a further six points behind in third place as the title has a two-horse feel about it at the moment. The biggest surprise is that Slavia Prague are just two places and four points above the bottom side Ústí nad Labem and need to do significantly better if they are not to get dragged into a relegation battle.

FC København

FC København are still unbeaten in Denmark

DENMARK: FC København (19 games, 51 points) are unstoppable in this season’s Superliga going the first nineteen games of the championship unbeaten and holding a seemingly unassailable 19 point lead over second place Odense Boldklub. FCK have only dropped points in three drawn games and are performing at their most dominant since being coached by Norwegian Ståle Solbakken who is departing at the end of the season to take charge of the Norway national team.

FRANCE: Without doubt the tightest championship in Europe at the moment. Lille OSC (18 games, 32 points) are the current table-toppers and have a game in hand on those teams directly below them. The likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Stade Rennais and Olympique Lyonnais are just a point worse off and there are only ten points separating Lille OSC from 16th place Valenciennes. Therefore anybody who can string a number of wins together from now ’til the season’s end has a very good chance of winning Ligue 1.

GEORGIA: FC Zestafoni and Olimpi Rustavi (18 games, 37 points) are neck-and-neck going into the winter break with Dinamo Tbilisi just two points behind in a closely-fought Umaglesi Liga. FC Zestafoni are hoping to win their maiden Georgian championshp whilst Olimpi, the defending champions, have ambitions to win their third title in five seasons. Dinamo Tbilisi, the nation’s most famous club, want to add to their record number of championships. At the bottom Kolkheti Poti and Spartak Tskhinvali lie in the two relegation places but are only six points behind fourth place Torpedo Kutaisi and can climb up the table with a couple of wins.

GERMANY: Borussia Dortmund (17 games, 43 points) have been immense in the first half of the Bundesliga season. They acquired the tag of Herbstmeister (autumn champions) with two games of the opening half of the season to go and have only lost two matches so far. Nevertheless the Ruhr Valley side has a ten point lead over both 1.FSV Mainz 05 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen and look favourites to win their seventh title. Champions FC Bayern München are a distant 14 points behind and have a lot of work to do if they’re to get back in the title hunt. At the bottom big clubs such as Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfB Stuttgart and 1.FC Köln continue to struggle.

GREECE: Olympiakos (15 games, 36 points) are hoping to win back the title they lost last season and currently lead the Super League with a five point advantage over perennial rivals and defending champions Panathinaikos. PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens are a distant joint third place as both teams have 23 points at the moment. Last season’s Beta Ethniki (2nd tier) champions Olympiakos Volou are lying in a respectable eighth place in their first top flight campaign since 1989-90.

HUNGARY: Dreams of a first ever Monicomp Liga title are increasing at Videoton FC (16 games, 36 points) who have a seven point lead over Zalaegerszegi TE and Kaposvári Rákóczi FC. Hungary’s most famous club Ferencváros are in fourth place in their first campaign back in the top flight following a four year absence whilst champions Debreceni VSC lie in fifth position.

ISRAEL: Maccabi Haifa (15 games, 34 points) are hoping to gain revenge on closest challengers Hapoel Tel-Aviv who deprived them the Premier League title on the last day of the 2009-10 season. Maccabi currently lead the champions by two points but there is further competition from Maccabi Tel-Aviv who are just three points further back. The regular season is at the halfway point at the moment; when it’s compeleted the table will be split into three groups challenging for the championship, European places and top-flight survival.

ITALY: AC Milan (17 games, 36 points) may not have to worry too much about their neighbours Internazionale FC right now with the Rossoneri thirteen points ahead of the defending Italian and European champions. However AC Milan do have to look over their shoulder at the likes of SS Napoli, Juventus FC, SS Lazio, AS Roma and US Città di Palermo who all trail the Serie A table-toppers within a nine point gap.

AC Milan v Internazionale FC

AC Milan (red/black) have a huge advantage over defending champions Internazionale FC

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