Thursday, 27 June 2019

A Sensational Season Story: Getafe

While the larger Madrid teams take the majority of the headlines, one of the smaller Madrid clubs pulled off an unbelievable achievement as Getafe secured a place in the Europa League next season. Jose Bordolas's team secured a 5th placed finish in La Liga after a tremendous campaign virtually spent in the European places.

Bordolas's reign at Getafe continues to get better and better. He brought them up from the Segunda division and then stabilised them in their first season back. Now the Getafe players and fans can now start planning a tour of Europe with Europa League football on the horizon. Bordolas has built a squad that are hardworking, extremely difficult to beat and resilient until the end. A team full of experience that has defied expectations in the last two seasons. A team of experienced campaigners mixed with youth and unknown talent has a team come together beautifully. The hard work isn't over yet with a big season ahead and no doubt Getafe will want to make an impression in Europe next season.

Bordolas has relied on experienced campaigners throughout his time at Getafe and their key importance to the team has seen them find a new gear even in the latter stages of their careers. Forwards Jorge Molina and Angel Rodriguez have been reliable figures for Bordolas and have played a significant role in the club's rise to Europe.  Even at the age of 37, Jorge Molina seems to be getting better and better. The veteran striker played in all of Getafe's league games last season scoring 14 goals and setting up 5 others. The striker has been a magnificent servant to Getafe and he will want to aid Getafe even more next season. 32-year-old Angel Rodriguez will also be looking to play a key role once again next season. The striker notched 8 goals and set up 3 others in his 37 games. Getafe's experienced heads spread across the team. Full backs Damian Suarez and Vitorino Antunes are into their early 30s but seem to have a spring in their step as they enter the latter stages of their careers. Bordolas heavily relies on his full backs to break down the play and put in crosses for his two strikers. Antunes and Suarez were outstanding last season and no doubt their form will be key to their chances of success next season.

While the experienced figures have been vital, Bordolas's clever transfer business has been integral to their success. Jaime Mata, David Soria, Leandro Cabrera and Djene have been instrumental this season in Getafe's success. Prior to this season, forward Jaime Mata had been plying his trade in the lower leagues of Spanish football and played a key role in Valladolid's promotion. Getafe snapped him up on a free transfer and it certainly proved one of the best signings as in his debut La Liga season, he notched 14 league goals and set up 6 others. Mata was tremendous and he will be looking to go even better next season with Getafe's fixture list becoming more congested. At the other end of the pitch, Bordolas added the impressive David Soria from Sevilla. Very much second choice at Sevilla, Soria arrived with the intentions of becoming number 1 and he is firm fixture in the Getafe team. The goalkeeper made 37 appearances last season for Getafe and was the crucial cog in their defence. Getafe's centre-halves also enjoyed a tremendous season. Leandro Cabrera and Djene have formed a brilliant partnership in the heart of the Getafe defence forming a formidable partnership many La Liga attacks have struggled to get past. Djene in particular has impressed with his endurance, strength and pace and being 27-years-old, he is very much in his prime. The Togo international had a tremendous breakthrough season and Getafe will be desperate to keep him in the summer with some of Europe's bigger clubs circling.

Getafe had a tremendous 2018/19 season and things are only going to get more exciting with the Europa League on the horizon as the small Madrid club emerges from the shadows to test their much larger neighbours. A sensational season for Getafe and the anticipation for the new season will already be in full swing for the Getafe faithful.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

A Sensational Season Story: Fortuna Sittard

The Sensational Season Story so far has focused on a team's finish in the European places however, there have been brilliant stories at other spectrums of the table. One of those being Eredivisie debutants Fortuna Sittard who survived relegation in their first ever season in the Dutch top flight. 

The small Dutch club based in the small city of Sittard have defied all expectations and survived relegation thereby securing a second Eredivisie season. The players have dug in and managed to pull off a tremendous achievement and no doubt the club will look to build on their first season. Departing manager Rene Eijer did a magnificent job with them. 34 points from their 34 league games was enough to avoid relegation and the dreaded relegation play-offs. Some of their highlights in their debut season included a terrific win at Rotterdam's De Kuip stadium as they stunned Feyenoord.

A season of triumph at Fortuna Sittard avoiding relegation by a single point. Despite their inconsistencies for much of the campaign, Eijer's team brought excitement, intrigue and plenty of goals. Fortuna Sittard had the worst defence in the Eredivisie conceding 80 goals which over 2 goals a game. Their defence will need major improvement if they are to avoid relegation next season but they have proved they are a team that can score goals. Fortuna Sittard notched 50 goals with their top scorer Andrija Novakovich scoring 9 of those. The striker impressed for the Eredivisie new boys and they will be hoping to bring him back to the club providing they can reach an agreement with Championship side Reading. Other players that impressed for Fortuna included midfielders Mark Diemers and Lazaros Lamprou. Captain Diemers led by example and was a key figure in the heart of the team with the dynamic central midfielder notching 7 goals and setting up 7 more. Diemers will be central once again next season as the club head into another transitional period.  Meanwhile, young Greek midfielder Lazaros Lamprou also impressed in his debut Eredivisie season. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder scored 7 goals and set up 6 more in his 24 appearances. Another man impressing was goalkeeper Alexei Koselev. The Russian keeper enjoyed a terrific season and despite conceding 80 goals, he kept out plenty more and Fortuna Sittard will be hoping he remains at the club this summer. 

Fortuna Sittard's aggressive approach did frustrate their opposition throughout the season and they will need to keep that aggression heading into the new season. Fortuna Sittard were excellent on the counter-attack despite their poor defensive record and no doubt they will tapping into that once again next season.  But the new season will bring plenty of change as the likes of Finn Stokkers, Lars Hutten, Kai Herrings and Ruben Ramirez will leave the club this summer as will Rene Eijer who was sacked despite keeping the club in the Eredivisie.

His replacement is the former FC Twente and Helmond Sport assistant manager Sjors Ultee. The 32-year-old arrives on a one year contract with an option to extend that. He is highly regarded at the club but faces a tough job in his first steps into management. Survival will be their aim and their squad needs major improvements heading into the new season despite the success of the previous season. All the loan players have departed as well as seven players being released at the end of their contracts so big work lies ahead.

Fortuna Sittard had a terrific first season in the Dutch top flight and the fans will certainly have fond memories of their first ever campaign in the Eredivisie. However, the fans will hope second season syndrome doesn't kick in. Fortuna Sittard enjoyed a sensational season and they will hope the positive momentum built up will carry into the new season.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

A Sensational Season Story: Lille

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Lille had narrowly escaped relegation after a season of struggle and huge financial difficulties. However, fast forward twelve months and Lille find themselves preparing for a Champions League campaign after finishing 2nd in Ligue 1 this season. It has been a tremendous transformation for Les Douges and despite there still being a concern with Financial Fair Play, the football club is completely energised and excited for the season that lies ahead.

Lille's tremendous season certainly comes down to the brilliant job done by Christophe Galtier. He arrived on the eve of 2018 and managed to keep Lille in Ligue 1 and the rest, as they say, is history.  Lille were outstanding during the 2018/19 season. Galtier built on their survival and carried their positive momentum forward and things have gone from strength to strength under the popular Frenchman.  He boasts a 47% win record at the club showing the transformation in mentality and style at the club. Galtier's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation has unlocked the real talent and potential of this team. Galtier's exciting style of play saw Lille finish 2nd in Ligue 1 with 75 points and were comfortably the best of the rest in Ligue 1.

While Galtier masterminded their unlikely charge to Champions League football, his players delivered week in, week out. Their prize asset and star player of their sensational season was Nicolas Pepe. The flying forward was absolutely magnificent notching 22 goals and assisting 11 others. Only Kylian Mbappe scored more goals. The Ivorian was outstanding whichever position he played for Lille. He has become a fans favourite and the talismanic figure in the team with his dynamic play, quality finishing and selfless acts in the team. Lille will be desperate to keep him next season but it is unlikely they will be able to with interest from across Europe in the winger. A cheap signing from league rivals Angers has become a quality footballer and certainly, he was Ligue 1 player of the season. Galtier's formation allowed two of his attacking signings to flourish. Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone enjoyed outstanding debut seasons at the club. Arriving from St Etienne and PSG respectively, Galtier has unlocked their qualities and released their shackles. Jonathan Bamba enjoyed a terrific first season at the club notching an impressive 13 goals and 3 assists while Jonathan Ikone notched 3 goals and assisted 9. Pepe, Ikone and Bamba formed a deadly partnership behind the lone striker and Lille will be desperate to keep them together heading into next season. It was also a breakthrough season for highly-rated Portuguese striker Rafael Leao. The young striker impressed with his deadly pace and physicality while leading the Lille line. The teenager notched an impressive 8 goals and 3 assists in his 24 appearances. Galtier has total faith in him and no doubt Leao will want to add more goals to his game but time is certainly on his side. The sky's the limit for the young striker.

While Lille's attackers have impressed this season, their steel midfield and strong rearguard also deserve huge credit. Thiago Mendes and Xeka have formed a strong partnership at the heart of the Lille midfield with their robust style and excellent passing abilities. Xeka who was unfancied under their previous regime has certainly impressed Galtier in the past twelve months and has thrived this season in a deeper role. Thiago Mendes meanwhile remains a consistent performer in the Lille midfield and he has grown in just his second season in European football. Another man enjoying a terrific season is goalkeeper Mike Maignan. Lille's number one was outstanding playing every minute of the league season and conceding just 33 goals and keeping the most clean sheets. Lille's defence also deserves huge credit for their sensational season. Lille boasted the best defence during the 2018/19 season and that is thanks to the likes of Zeki Celik, Adama Soumauro, Youssef Kone and Gabriel but their standout performer was unfancied signing Jose Fonte. The veteran defender joined on a free transfer after an unsuccessful play in Chinese football and he slotted into that defence beautifully. The experienced head of Fonte has nurtured Lille's very young backline and Fonte has thrived in this role and deserves huge credit for the performances and shifts he has put in. Fonte will get to test himself against Europe's elite next season and he will be even more important with many of the players heading into unknown territory.

The 2018/19 season will forever be remembered by players and fans alike at Lille. The 2019/20 season cannot come soon enough with the excitement building for the new league season as well as Champions League nights returning to Northern France. Galtier may have already accepted the loss of Nicolas Pepe with big clubs desperate for his signature and no doubt Galtier will have plans to replace him with the club needing players for their venture into Europe. Excitement is building despite the concerns of FFP which still hang over the club but it has been a sensational season for Lille and will head into the new season full of optimism, excitement and confidence.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

A Sensational Season Story: Bayer Leverkusen

A season that started so disappointingly for Bayer Leverkusen ended with pure joy as the Werkself secured a place back at Europe's top table. Leverkusen struggled for much of 2018 but a change in management and playing style worked a treat in 2019 as 11 wins in their last 17 games was enough to sneak into the Champions League places.

Leverkusen started the season woefully losing their first three league games. Inconsistency seemed to be their main issue under then manager Heiko Herrlich. But despite winning three of his final four league games in charge, the board made the switch in management and went for former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz and the rest, as they say, is history. Bosz was brought in tasked to unlock the talent in the Leverkusen squad and push towards the Champions League places. Bosz unlocked the likes of Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt and many more of an underperforming squad. Bosz's reign began with a defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach but a thunderous victory against Wolfsburg saw the Bosz reign take flight. Of course, the change of manager was a risk but Bosz's reign thus far has certainly been a success and no doubt he will want to add to his squad in the summer and build on their impressive second half of the season.

Peter Bosz will no doubt be thanking his squad for adapting to his style of play and clearly, the players are pulling in the same direction which is no doubt pleasing the Leverkusen fans. One man who has sparkled under Bosz is attacking midfielder Kai Havertz. It has certainly been a breakthrough season for the young attacker who has glistened in the heart of the Leverkusen attack notching an impressive 17 goals as well as playing in every single game this season. Havertz has been sensational for Leverkusen and he can only get better going forward. Peter Bosz will be desperate to keep him this summer with interest expected to be high. However, one man they will lose this summer is the very talented and versatile Julian Brandt. The German winger has been brilliant once again for the club where he came through as a youngster. Brandt notched 7 goals and 11 assists for Leverkusen and his flair, creativity and trickery from the wings will certainly be missed next season. He leaves for Bundesliga rivals Dortmund after they activated his £22M release clause. Bosz will be disappointed to lose him but will no doubt have faith in the players who are still at the club. This includes Jamaican winger Leon Bailey who is lighting up the Bundesliga with his deadly pace and pure skill on the wings. While his goal tally isn't the greatest having scored just 5 Bundesliga goals this season, he is a difficult player to deal with and when on form, he is unstoppable. Bosz has certainly got a tune out of him during 2019 and Bosz will be hoping he stays at the club. Another man winning admirers across Europe is Germany's Under 21's captain Jonathan Tah. The centre back has been rock solid this season for Leverkusen. He dominance in the air and physical presence has made him extremely difficult to get past. Tah improved as the season progresses and he will be aiming to carry that form into the new season.

It isn't just the young guns impressing for Leverkusen as certainly, the more experienced players have played their part in Leverkusen's terrific season. Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky has been a terrific signing from Eintracht Frankfurt. Finland's number 1 has been excellent in his debut season at Leverkusen conceding just 21 goals. The Bender brothers have also been fantastic. Another man impressing is defensive midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger. The Austrian has been tremendous in the heart of the Leverkusen midfield breaking down play and starting attacks for Peter Bosz's team. Another man who enjoyed an excellent season was Kevin Volland. The versatile forward enjoyed his best scoring season for the club since arriving from Hoffenheim. The forward notched 14 league goals and set up 9 others as he played a huge role in Leverkusen's season of success. The forward has thrived under Peter Bosz with the shackles firmly off his feet with Bosz preferring an attacking 4-3-3 setup. He has certainly staked a club for the main forward position in the German national side and no doubt he will be hoping to carry his form into the new season.

A big summer lies ahead after a fantastic season with interest in their players high but Bosz will be confident enough to say he can keep this team together despite losing Julian Brandt. Bosz has already added to his squad with Keram Demirbay and Moussa Diaby signed up for next season. Bosz will certainly look to strengthen his squad more as the Champions League beckons for his team but he will reflect on his first six months at Leverkusen as a massive success. The Champions League is on the horizon for Leverkusen after a tremendous 2018/19 and no doubt they will be ones to watch next season.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A Sensational Season Story: Atalanta

The 2018/19 season will be fondly remembered by fans of Atalanta. The fans watched their side secure a 3rd place finish in Serie A and secure a place in the Champions League for the first time in their history. Gianpiero Gasperini's team charged towards the Champions League beating the likes of Roma, AC Milan and Lazio to steal a place at the top table of European football.

12 months ago, Atalanta had lost to Danish side FC Copenhagen in the Europa League qualifiers and things had hit rock bottom at that point. However, Gasperini picked them up and got them going again but their start to Serie A was disappointing collecting just one win in their opening 8 games leaving them stuck in the bottom half of the table. Overall, it was a mixed first half of the season for Atalanta collecting 28 points prior to the winter break. But Gasperini's team have had a tremendous 2019 losing just twice and finished the season unbeaten in 13 games which included 9 wins. Gasperini's men turned up the heat in the new year scoring goals for fun while building from the back. Atalanta's flair, firepower and togetherness were there for all to see as they stormed into the Champions League places.

Credit goes to Gasperini for the job he has done at Atalanta but the players he has got are performing for him and the fans. Argentine Alejandro Gomez has been a fans favourite for a number of seasons and once again he played an important role in their record-breaking campaign. The winger notched 7 goals and 11 assists this season but his versatility allowed Gasperini to almost give him a free role in the team. Another attacker who enjoyed an impressive season is Slovenian forward Josip Ilicic. The forward has been a terrific acquisition since arriving from Fiorentina and he enjoyed an excellent season notching 12 goals and setting up 7 goals. The physical forward possess excellent quality and Gasperini has certainly got a tune out of him this season. While the forwards have delivered up front, Atalanta would certainly struggle without their flying wing backs Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens. Castagne and Gosens have been outstanding this season with their dynamic runs up and down the flanks and their tenacious play to get Atalanta going forward. While their assists count is 4 between them, Gasperini frequently praises them and no doubt they are vital to Atalanta's style of play. Gasperini has formed strong partnerships across the team and no doubt the partnership between Marten De Roon and Remo Freuler is strong. De Roon and Freuler have been brilliant in the heart of the Atalanta midfield breaking up play and leading attacks. While their goal returns are small, their role in the team is crucial because Gasperini relies on them to break down the play and their steel-like partnership has won plenty of plaudits across Europe. 

Atalanta's transfer business has also been crucial to their success, in particular, their use of the loaning players. Mario Pasalic and Duvan Zapata have been fantastic pieces of business for Atalanta with Zapata, in particular, enjoying a terrific season notching 23 goals in Serie A with only veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella scoring more. The Colombian striker has been in red hot form this season and his incisive running and instinctive finishing have firmly been unlocked by Gasperini having flattered to deceive at Napoli and Sampdoria. The striker is finally realising how good he is and Gasperini deserves huge credit for unlocking him and no doubt with Atalanta in the Champions League next season, Gasperini will want him on a permanent deal. Mario Pasalic has also impressed during his loan spell from Chelsea. The Croatian midfielder has struggled to break in at Chelsea but may have finally found a home in Italy. He made 33 appearances scoring 5 goals in the process and has certainly won the affection of the Atalanta fans. Gasperini will no doubt want to keep Pasalic and Zapata at the club ahead of their debut Champions League campaign.

It was a fantastic 2018/19 for Atalanta and no doubt Gasperini will certainly want to build on it heading into the busy transfer window and pre-season period. Could Atalanta dare to challenge for the Serie A title? Well, based on how they finished the season they have every chance of fighting Italy's big boys. Atalanta will certainly want to make an impression in the Champions League having finally earned the opportunity to pit their wits against Europe's best. There is no doubt Atalanta have a fantastic team and will fancy they can ruffle some feathers in the new season but it has been a sensational season for the Nerazzurri.

Monday, 17 June 2019

What A Fantastic Year Of Football

The 2018/19 season across Europe was absolutely brilliant. From Manchester City's dramatic title victory to the continued dominance of PSG and Juventus, the season brought plenty of exciting football, brilliant stories and tremendous goals that will live long into the memory.

We start our round-up with the most tightly fought contest for the Premier League title. Manchester City and Liverpool's scrap for glory lasted throughout the season and it was Pep Guardiola's Manchester City who conquered by a single point. Guardiola's men finished with an impressive 98 points the second highest in Premier League history with only their record-breaking 100 points tally better. City were the kings of England in 2018/19 winning a domestic treble in style. Liverpool in any other season would certainly have topped England once again finishing with a terrific 97 point haul but in the end, they came up short. However, their season did end with glory as they collected a sixth Champions League title to crown a sensational season. Player of the season Virgil Van Dijk was outstanding all campaign but it is their full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson who have really caught the eye with a string of terrific performances and a huge amount of assists. Tottenham and Chelsea secured Champions League places. Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs performed miracles in the Champions League but ultimately fell at the final hurdle but will dine at the top table once again. Maurizio Sarri's only season at Chelsea proved successful with the Italian collecting his first piece of silverware as a manager and getting Chelsea back in the Champions League. Sarri waves goodbye after one season to return to Italy but will leave with plenty of pride after a successful stint in England. Wolves enjoyed their first season back securing a top 7 finish and a chance at playing in the Europa League next season. Meanwhile, Cardiff, Fulham and Huddersfield ended their season with relegation.

PSG continued their dominance of French football by collecting another Ligue 1 title. However, their title win has fallen into insignificance with PSG struggling in the Champions League once again and they failed to win any of the domestic cups in France. A mixed first season for Thomas Tuchel who will demand improvement going into next season. PSG have fallen into the background this season with some of their Ligue 1 opponents stealing the spotlight. It has been a tremendous 12 months for Lille under Christophe Galtier. From surviving relegation in 2017/18 to finishing 2nd in this campaign and securing an unlikely place in the Champions League. Galtier has assembled an exciting, young squad hungry for success. Their star man Nicolas Pepe had a tremendous season and was integral to their success. He is almost certainly heading for the exit but he will Lille a hero. Galtier will now plan a season in Champions League but will be fully aware Finacial Fair Play still hangs over the club. Lyon also secured a place in the Champions League once again with their impressive, talented, young team playing some exciting football. However, with manager Bruno Genesio leaving and a host of key players including Ferland Mendy, Nabil Fekir and Tanguy Ndombele also expected to leave, it's a nervous summer ahead for Lyon. Saint Etienne and Rennes will be in the Europa League next season after excellent seasons with the latter beating PSG in the French Cup final to secure their place. Strasbourg also had a terrific season with Thierry Laurey's team securing a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds. Guingamp and Caen say goodbye to Ligue 1 following their relegation while Dijon hung on and secured their place after beating Lens in the Ligue 1 play-offs.

Bayern Munich secured yet another Bundesliga title after edging out rivals Borussia Dortmund on the final day of the season. Despite an unconvincing first season under Niko Kovac, Bayern won another league title to add to their growing collection. A big summer lies ahead for the Bavarian giants with the club planning a revamp of the squad. Ribery, Robben and Rafinha are leaving at the end of their contracts after serving the club tremendously. Others including Mats Hummels, James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller all face uncertain futures. Borussia Dortmund enjoyed a tremendous first season under Lucien Favre and despite leading the Bundesliga for much of the campaign, they fell short at the final hurdle. But, Favre has assembled an exciting team who are winning plaudits across Europe. The team follows the example of Marco Reus who bleeds Dortmund and this has resonated throughout the squad. Jadon Sancho is the gem in the team with the exciting English winger notching an impressive 14 assists in his breakthrough season at the club. Dortmund will re-group and go again next season. Bayern vs Dortmund will be a battle next season that Bundesliga fans cannot wait for. RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen secured the other two spots in the Champions League. Leverkusen's change of manager at Christmas was a success with Peter Bosz delivering what the fans and Leverkusen hierarchy wanted. Bosz got Leverkusen's talented team going with young attacker Kai Havertz enjoying a tremendous campaign. Leverkusen will be desperate to keep that team together. Borussia Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg secured Europa League places while Eintracht Frankfurt secured the Europa League qualifying place. Wolfsburg enjoying unlikely success after consecutive seasons of struggle but the departing Bruno Labbadia did a terrific job and will leave with his head firmly held high. Meanwhile, at the wrong end, Hannover and Nuremberg are heading for the Bundesliga 2 as are Stuttgart after losing the playoffs to Union Berlin.

Juventus continued their complete control of Italy with another comfortable title win. Max Allegri delivered yet another Serie A title and their only disappointment is their failure to win the Champions League once again. Cristiano Ronaldo certainly delivered in his first season in Italy and will be targeting another Champions League success next season. Max Allegri will leave this summer to take a break from football and Maurizio Sarri will fill his big shoes with Sarri tasked of continuing Juventus' success and bring the Champions League back to Turin. Napoli and Inter Milan secured places in the Champions League as do Atalanta for the first time in their history. Gianpiero Gasperini guided Atalanta to a 3rd place finish and a place at Europe's top table for the very first time. Duvan Zapata, Alejandro Gomez to name a few were outstanding. AC Milan, Roma and Lazio will be in the Europa League next season with the latter securing their place after winning Coppa Italia. At the wrong end, Serie B beckons for Chievo, Frosinone and Empoli with the latter two heading straight back down. It is going to be an intriguing summer in Serie A with Inter, Roma, Juventus and AC Milan all changing their managers.

Barcelona retained control of the La Liga title after a comfortable league season. Ernesto Valverde secures two league titles in his two seasons in charge. However, the problems seem to be in the Champions League as for a second consecutive season, Barcelona threw away a three-goal advantage in the knockout stages. Lionel Messi delivered for Barcelona once again but there is no denying that squad needs improving at the back and midfield. Meanwhile, Barcelona's bitter rivals finished 19 points behind them and a big summer lies ahead. Real Madrid finished 3rd, went out of the Champions League at the last 16 stages and had three managers across the season. Zinedine Zidane is back and will be fully aware the squad is ageing and needs major improvement this summer. Sandwiched between Barca and Real were Atletico Madrid who finished a respectable 2nd. Diego Simeone continues to do an excellent job at Atleti but a real test lies ahead this summer with much of the old guard including Diego Godin leaving the club. Antoine Greizmann is also leaving after deciding he wants to leave the club to win the Champions League. Simeone will have a big rebuild on his hands with Atletico Madrid heading into a new age. Valencia finished 4th and have secured back to back Champions League campaigns under Marcelino who is doing a terrific job. Sevilla will be in the Europa League next season and will be joined by two unlikely teams Getafe and Espanyol. Jose Bordalas' Getafe finished in 5th place meaning a guaranteed place in the Europa League while Espanyol finished 7th under the departing Rubi and will enter at the qualifying rounds. Big La Liga heavyweights Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Real Betis and Villarreal all endured mixed seasons and will all be extremely disappointed with their campaigns. Rayo Vallecano and Huesca are heading straight back down after just a season in La Liga and will be joined by Girona who were relegated after two seasons in La Liga.

Ajax and PSV battled hard to be crowned Eredivisie champions and ultimately it was the team from Amsterdam which prevailed. Ajax had a terrific season in more ways than one. Not only did they secure a first title in 4 seasons, but Ajax also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League eventually losing to Tottenham. Erik Ten Hag's exciting young team caused waves across Europe dumping out Real Madrid and Juventus on their way. However, a difficult summer will no doubt lie ahead with interest in many of their players. Frankie De Jong is already leaving with a transfer to Barcelona agreed. But the likes of Donny Van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech, Nicolas Tagliafico, Andre Onana and Matthijs De Ligt are all attracting serious interest from Europe's biggest clubs. De Ligt in particular is proving an asset everyone in Europe wants. Barcelona, Juventus, PSG, Manchester City, Manchester United to name a few are interested in signing the young defender. Meanwhile, PSV fell short in their first season under Mark Van Bommel but will be in the Champions League qualifying rounds. Feyenoord, AZ Alkmaar and Utrecht will be aiming to compete in the Europa League as they enter in the qualifying rounds. NAC Breda were relegated after finishing bottom while De Graafschap and Excelsior who finished in the relegation playoff places will join NAC Breda with Sparta Rotterdam and RKC Waalwijk securing the final two places in the Eredivisie next season.

The 2018/19 season was outstanding with plenty of terrific goals, brilliant football and tremendous footballing stories. The new season is already on the horizon with the transfer window in full swing. Lets hope the new season starting in August will bring the same quality the 2018/19 season brought.