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Giving end of term report cards to European football’s top clubs

There are some class clowns and some teacher's pets

The Christmas holidays are fast approaching and teachers across Europe are busy writing up their end of term reports.

With that in mind, we have decided to play teacher ourselves and give some feedback to teams across Europe’s top five leagues.

Two representatives from the Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and Serie A will either achieve the teacher’s pet accolade or be told they must do better and stop being the class clown.


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England

Teacher’s pet: Liverpool

Is it their year?

AP:Associated Press
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Is it their year?

Liverpool did manage a fourth place finish last season but still finished 25 points off champions Man City.

Both stake a fair claim to be top of the class yet with Liverpool one point ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side, the Anfield club are just about our Premier League prefects.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have vastly improved the defensive side of their game, keeping eight clean sheets in 11 home games in all competitions.

With Virgil van Dijk and Alisson at the back, they now have a solid defense to compliment the venomous trident up top.

Class clown: Man United

Is time running out for Jose?

AP:Associated Press
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Is time running out for Jose?

As for the Premier League’s biggest disappointment, there are no prizes for guessing it’s United.

Jose Mourinho’s men seem to keep getting results to paper over the cracks – think Juventus/Newcastle/Young Boys – but ultimately the league table doesn’t lie.

Having finished second last year and winning a so-called treble the year before, United are free falling their way down the league.

This time last year, United were nine points and five places better off. Top four by Christmas, Jose?

Spain

Teacher’s pet: Alaves

They have gone toe to toe with the big boys

Getty - Contributor
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They have gone toe to toe with the big boys

La Liga’s usual top performers are not dominating the league in the way that we have become accustomed to over the past decade.

Barcelona are top with nine wins from 15 games, but top of the class in Spain goes to Alaves.

The Spanish minnows finished 14th last season and are now just one point shy of fourth and a lucrative Champions League qualification spot.

The season might still be young but the boys from northern Spain have already taken the scalp of Real Madrid.

Class clown: Villarreal

Even with Santi Cazorla, Villarreal look hopeless

Getty - Contributor
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Even with Santi Cazorla, Villarreal look hopeless

The dunces cap was destined for Madrid but Los Blancos have recovered somewhat since the appointment of Santiago Solari.

As things stand the unwanted title goes to Villarreal.

They have won five out of the last 19 games in all competitions. For a team with the likes of Santi Cazorla and Carlos Bacca, those numbers really aren’t good enough.

The Yellow Submarine might have qualified from their Europa League group, but their La Liga record is well below par.

Germany

Teacher’s pet: Borussia Dortmund

There has been cause for celebration this year

EPA
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There has been cause for celebration this year

It’s no surprise to see Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga class after Lucien Favre whipped last season’s fourth-place side into shape.

The Black and Yellows finished 29 points off Bayern Munich last season and are currently nine points clear of their would-be title rivals and seven ahead of next best Borussia Monchengladbach.

There is a new lease of life at Dortmund who are still unbeaten after 14 games – scoring 35 goals.

With future Ballon D’or winner Jadon Sancho and the Bundesliga’s joint top-scorer Paco Alcacer terrorising defences, Dortmund are now favourites for their first league title since 2012.

Class clown: Bayern Munich

An unusual season for Bayern

AFP or licensors
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An unusual season for Bayern

Since Klopp’s departure Germany’s top flight has been a one-horse race with the pace set by Die Roten.

However, things have not been simple for Niko Kovac during his debut season at the helm of Bayern.

Back-to-back defeat at the hands of Hertha Berlin and Monchengladbach in October have left the Bavarians in an unfamiliar third position.

Italy

Teacher’s pet: Empoli

Nothing Gross about Empoli current form

Getty Images - Getty
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Nothing Gross about Empoli current form

Empoli pip Inter Milan as Italy’s most improved side. Maurizio Sarri’s old club have settled well in the top flight since winning promotion.

The new kids in the class of Serie A were odds-on to go straight back down, a prospect that looked even more likely after a disappointing start to the season.

Their form of late however, including three wins out of the last four, has put them five points clear of relegation.

Class clown: Roma

Eusabio Di Francesco’s face says it all

AFP or licensors
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Eusabio Di Francesco’s face says it all

The drop-outs in Italy are last season’s Champions league semi-finalists Roma.

While they were still 18 points off top spot last year, their fall from grace in the league will be alarming for supporters.

Roma have finished in the top three for the past five seasons and are now facing life without the Champions League – despite getting through their group with a game to spare this season.

In the league they find themselves eighth, joint with Parma in 10th.

They lost their star keeper Alisson, along with the midfield duo of Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman, and the team already have less than half the points of league leaders Juventus.

France

Teacher’s pet: Lille

Lille look like PSG’s biggest rivals this year

AFP or licensors
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Lille look like PSG’s biggest rivals this year

Our teacher’s pet in League 1 French team has to be Lille.

They flew out of the blocks, winning an impressive six from their opening seven.

Striker Nicolas Pepe has 11 goals and five assists so far- the same as Neymar.

Their form has dipped over the last five games but for a team that beat relegation by just a point last season, to now be sitting second behind the untouchable PSG is very impressive indeed.

Class clown: Monaco

A sad sight

Reuters
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A sad sight

What comes up must come down, and on the opposite end of Lille’s ascending seesaw is Thierry Henry’s plummeting Monaco.

The Red and Whites managed just two draws from the opening nine league games. Sacre Bleu!

Henry is still in the job and has managed two wins in his last three games.

Yet, for a club who won the title back in 2017, to now be sitting in 19th place is a scary dip in form.

Both wins in the league have come away from home, with Monaco claiming two points out of a possible 21 at the Stade Louis II.


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