Agony and ecstasy in Europe

The domestic leagues across Europe have all but drawn to a close now and there has been drama a plenty as league titles have been decided, European qualification spots have been confirmed, promotions have been achieved and relegation has been the unfortunate destiny for some.

France

Lead by the departing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s record breaking 38 league goals, Paris Saint-Germain secured the Ligue 1 trophy in France. Lyon and Monaco booked their spots in the Champions League by completing the season in second and third respectively.

Nice and Lille laid claim to the Europa League qualification places while Reims, GFC Ajaccio and Troyes were all relegated.

Nancy, Dijon and Metz all completed stellar Ligue 2 seasons and will be full value for their top-flight status next season.

England

In England, Leicester City were crowned as the deserved but surprise champions of the Premier League and in doing so qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Arsenal capitalised on Tottenham’s poor end to the season to finish in second and make it 21 years on the bounce that they have winded up above the Lilywhites. Both North London rivals will be joined in the Champions League by Manchester City if the latter can triumph in their qualification tie against an opponent that has not yet been announced. That will be incoming manager Pep Guardiola’s first major assignment at his new club.

If Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool can overcome Sevilla in the Europa League final then they will make a return to Champions League football for the first time since the 2014/2015 season.

Southampton and Manchester United will feature in the Europa League next season. If the Red Devils beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup Final West Ham will accompany them. However, if Palace win they will be in the Europa League.

Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa will ply their trade in the Championship next year after they were relegated from the top-flight while Burnley and Middlesbrough are both coming up.

The third promotion spot will be pinched by one of Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton, Derby or Hull City who are all currently contesting the play-offs.

Italy

In the Serie A, Juventus were crowned champions for the fifth season in a row. Their closest challengers were Napoli who were nine points back in second. AS Roma were a further two points off the pace in third. All three sides have qualified for the Champions League.

Inter Milan were next in fourth, an astonishing 24 points worse off than Juventus. The former will do battle in the Europa League. Completing Italy’s presence in that competition will be Fiorentina who finished fifth in the league.

Carpi, Frosinone and Verona all suffered the misfortune of being relegated to the Serie B. Cagliari and Crotone have been confirmed as two of the three teams that will replace them. A six-team play-off will decide who will be the third team.

Spain

Barcelona scored 24 goals without reply in their final five La Liga games to claim the title and deny Real Madrid, who finished second, the honor by just one point.

It went down to the last day and the Catalan club held their nerve to beat Granada 3-0 and hoist the trophy. Amazingly, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi combined for 90 of Blaugrana’s 112 league goals in the 2015/2016 season. The El Clasico rivals will definitely feature in the Champions League next season alongside Atlético Madrid and Villarreal.

Sevilla could also be there if they beat Liverpool in the Europa League final. If Los Nervionenses lose though, they will play in the Europa League with Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo who concluded the La Liga season in fifth and sixth respectively.

The three departing La Liga teams are Rayo Vallecano, Getafe and Levante who fought bravely to retain top flight status but were unable to do so.

With four rounds of matches remaining in the Segunda Division, no teams have been confirmed for promotion just yet. However, Leganes and Alaves are looking strong at the top of the table with 65 points each.

Germany

In the Bundesliga, it was a familiar story as FC Bayern München won their 26th league title to reaffirm themselves as the country’s most successful club of all time. Borussia Dortmund, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach finished in second, third and fourth respectively to claim Champions League spots too.

FC Schalke 04, 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Hertha Berlin will compete in the Europa League next season.

Hannover 96 and VfB Stuttgart could not avoid the drop and will be in the 2. Bundesliga for the 2016/2017 campaign. Replacing them will be Freiburg and RB Leipzig who finished the 2. Bundesliga in first and second respectively.

In a promotion-relegation match, Eintracht Frankfurt will clash with Nurnberg over two legs to determine if the two sides will swap leagues.

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