Top flights only. Steven Gerrard is in fine, slowly diminishing company.
Position: 1st in Serie A
Record: P9 W7 D2 L0 F21 A8
Manager: Stefano Pioli
Top scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10)
Biggest win: 3-0 v Spezia (h)
Not since losing to Genoa in their final game before lockdown have Milan tasted defeat in Serie A. Nine wins and three draws at the end of 2019/20 have been parlayed into seven victories and two stalemates to start this campaign, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic activating his cheat code while there’s no-one in the stands to call them out on it. Who’d have thought this would come from such an unpopular appointment?
Random former Premier League squad member: Ismael Bennacer, whose solitary appearance for Arsenal came in a 3-0 League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in October 2015.
Position: 4th in Serie A
Record: P9 W4 D5 L0 F18 A7
Manager: Andrea Pirlo
Top scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (8)
Biggest win: 4-1 v Spezia (a)
You’d be forgiven for thinking Spezia were bottom by about 427 points; they’re fairly comfortably mid-table. Juventus have made light work of them and Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria on the opening day but Andrea Pirlo’s first steps in senior management have most certainly been tentative. One of his four victories was a 3-0 walkover against Napoli, with that statement performance and result yet to come.
Random former Premier League squad member: Juan Cuadrado, who hopefully helps Cristiano Ronaldo tease Aaron Ramsey about his number of Premier League winner’s medals.
Pirlo’s post game remarks are everything you’d want to hear from a manager after a performance like today’s against Ferencvaros.
Critical, perturbed and the recognition that the team has to be better.
Andrea’s slowly developing his managerial identity, which pleases me.
— Inconvenient Truth (@ITruth98) November 24, 2020
Position: 2nd in La Liga
Record: P9 W7 D2 L0 F19 A2
Manager: Diego Simeone
Top scorer: Luis Suarez and Joao Felix (5)
Biggest win: 6-1 v Granada (h)
The only thing missing is a sly kick at a precocious David Beckham followed by a cupping of the collective cojones. Other than that, Diego Simeone has distilled his very essence and poured it directly into this Atletico Madrid campaign. Leaving aside a pretty listless Champions League start, the only goals they have conceded so far have both been in or after the 80th minute in straightforward wins. He really would be perfect for “attack, attack, attack” Manchester United.
Random former Premier League squad member: Ignoring the obvious ones, Manchester City legend Stefan Savic is a fun one.
Position: 3rd in Bundesliga
Record: P9 W5 D4 L0 F16 A9
Manager: Peter Bosz
Top scorer: Lucas Alario (7)
Biggest win: 4-2 v Freiburg (a)
After missing out on Champions League qualification by two meagre points – a setback for which they enacted their revenge on Borussia Monchengladbach with a 4-3 win earlier this month – Leverkusen have bounced back well. From the embers of three consecutive draws came five successive victories, before a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Hertha Berlin. They’ve got Bundesliga whipping boys Schalke next up.
Random former Premier League squad member: Aleksandar Dragovic played 16 whole actual games for Leicester. So yeah, him.
Position: 5th in Bundesliga
Record: P9 W4 D5 L0 F14 A8
Manager: Oliver Glasner
Top scorer: Wout Weghorst (6)
Biggest win: 5-3 v Werder (h)
Manager Oliver Glasner is supposedly on the brink due to an ongoing feud with the board over broken transfer promises. Yet it works. A nine-game unbeaten start to last season preceded a finish of 7th, which they would surely take again.
Random former Premier League squad member: It could be Kevin Mbabu of 2015/16 Newcastle. But how about Jeffrey Bruma, who played twice for champions Chelsea in 2009/10.
Position: 1st in Primeira Liga
Record: P8 W7 D1 L0 F21 A5
Manager: Ruben Amorim
Top scorer: Pedro Goncalves (9)
Biggest win: 4-0 v Tondela (h) and 4-0 v Vitoria de Guimaraes (a)
Only Porto have been able to hold Sporting CP at bay domestically as the Lions seek to deliver their first championship crown since 2002.
Random former Premier League squad member: If Liverpool alumni Sebastian Coates, Rafa Camacho and Tiago Ilori don’t fancy your tickle, past top-flight loanees Luciano Vietto and Joao Mario ought to do the trick.
Porto or Benfica have won the Portuguese title the last 18 years. But both are lagging behind Sporting in the Primeira Liga.
— Tom Kundert (@PortuGoal1) November 19, 2020
Position: 4th in Eredivisie
Record: P10 W6 D4 L0 F23 A11
Manager: Dick Advocaat
Top scorer: Steven Berghuis (9)
Biggest win: 4-1 v Willem II (a)
Reckon Dick Advocaat must be the joint highest former or current Sunderland manager in the business, level with Jack Ross at fourth-placed Hibernian. Five of Feyenoord’s Eredivisie wins have come against teams in the bottom eight, with Groningen in 8th their loftiest victims. Most impressive is that Advocaat is yet to suffer domestic defeat as manager; he was appointed upon Jaap Stam’s sacking after Feyenoord’s most recent loss, the 4-0 reverse at Ajax in October.
Random former Premier League squad member: Ex-Swansea pair Luciano Narsingh and Leroy Fer? Hmm. Steven Berghuis, goalscorer extraordinaire but Watford failure? Better. Joao Carlos Teixeira, supposed beneficiary of Brendan Rodgers leaving Liverpool? That’s the stuff.
Position: 7th in Eredivisie
Record: P9 W4 D5 F21 A13
Manager: Arne Slot
Top scorer: Dani de Wit, Albert Gudmundsson, Teun Koopmeiners and Jesper Karlsson (3)
Biggest win: 3-0 v RKC Waalwijk (h) and 3-0 v Heerenveen (a)
Second to Ajax on goal difference and with momentum firmly behind them, AZ Alkmaar perhaps counted themselves unfortunate that the Eredivisie season was abandoned in March instead of postponed like the majority of Europe. Their equilibrium was impacted to the extent that this season began with five straight draws, but four wins on the spin bodes well.
Random former Premier League squad member: Ron Vlaar barely edges it ahead of Jordy Clasie on account of him looking like he had retired at Aston Villa about seven years ago.
Position: 1st in Super Lig
Record: P9 W7 D2 L0 F19 A3
Manager: Cagdas Atan
Top scorer: Davidson (6)
Biggest win: 6-0 v Hatayspor (h)
Credit to Cagdas Atan, the 40-year-old in the first post of his managerial career and coping rather well with the legitimately damaging loss of top scorer Papiss Cisse to title rivals Fenerbahce, who are three points behind Alanyaspor with fellow Turkish giants Galatasaray, both having played a game more.
Random former Premier League squad member: In any other world Juanfran, signed by Watford for £1.5m in 2015 to play zero games before leaving in 2017, would be the pick by a landslide. But former Liverpool striker Steven Caulker wants a word.
Position: 1st in Scottish Premiership
Record: P15 W13 D2 L41 F3
Manager: Steven Gerrard
Top scorer: James Tavernier (9)
Biggest win: 8-0 v Hamilton (h)
It really might happen. Rangers have scored three goals or more in six league games but the real strength of a team that has won their two most recent matches by scorelines of 8-0 and 4-0 is their defence. They have 13 clean sheets when no other team has more than six. They have conceded 4.7 shots per game with the next best side allowing 8.7. Their top scorer is right-back James Tavernier. Steven Gerrard is a genius.
Random former Premier League squad member: The ex-Newcastle defender is actually a candidate here. Gerrard, too. Scott Arfield is too good to overlook, mind. They all have the same number of Premier League winner’s medals.
— Marathonbet (@marathonbet) December 4, 2020
Position: 1st in SuperLiga
Record: P16 W14 D2 L0 F47 A7
Manager: Dejan Stankovic
Top scorer: Aleksandar Katai (7)
Biggest win: 6-0 v Vozdovac (h)
They started the season with a hat-trick of 3-0 wins, meaning they have been top since the opening weekend and, with a current nine-point cushion to Partizan in second, will likely remain there. That’s pretty much it.
Random former Premier League squad member: There is unfortunately no dice whatsoever here. Suppose that’s what you get with part-timers who were plumbers not long ago.
Position: 2nd in Premier League
Record: P11 W6 D5 L0 F25 A10
Manager: Luis Castro
Top scorer: Viktor Kovalenko and Alan Patrick (4)
Biggest win: 5-1 v FC Lviv (h)
A fifth straight Ukrainian championship could be headed to Shakhtar Donetsk sooner rather than later as a team that lost just once in 2018/19 and 2019/20 is yet to taste defeat this time around. Dynamo Kyiv quite foolishly opted to lose to their closest title rivals in exchange for a three-point gap at the top of the table.
Random former Premier League squad member: Does Olarenwaju Kayode qualify despite his distinct lack of games for Manchester City? If not, Yevhen Konoplyanka was linked with Liverpool often enough to practically play for them.
Position: 1st in Super League
Record: P8 W7 D1 L0 F17 A2
Manager: Pedro Martins
Top scorer: Youssef El-Arabi (5)
Biggest win: 4-0 v Atromitos (h)
Olympiacos have not lost a regular league game since February 2019 and dropped their only points of this season in a 1-1 draw with PAS Giannina in October.
Random former Premier League squad member: Yann M’Vila. Simple as that.
Position: 3rd in Super League
Record: P9 W6 D3 L0 F16 A5
Manager: Pablo Garcia
Top scorer: Karol Swiderski (5)
Biggest win: 3-0 v OFI (h)
Pablo Garcia’s charges lag a single point behind joint leaders Olympiacos and Aris. Those dastardly draws don’t help.
Random former Premier League squad member: Curse Chuba Akpom for returning to England with Middlesbrough in September. The joke’s on him, mind. Jose Angel Crespo played once for Aston Villa and even captains the double-headed eagle of the North – a quite sensational club nickname that Wikipedia has almost definitely made up – on occasion.