Sky Sports News' David Garrido gives his views on top European leagues

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The half-way point of the season has been passed, and there's still plenty to play for in Europe's top leagues, not least of all in La Liga, where the two horses out in front have finally been caught, and now there are three.


The intensity of Atletico Madrid's goalless draw with Barcelona clearly took something out of both sides, as they both went on to draw their next games in January, Atletico at home to Sevilla and, more surprisingly perhaps, Barca at Levante.

The champions took out their frustration on the Valencia-based team with a 9-2 aggregate demolition in the Copa del Rey, but Lionel Messi still hasn't scored in the league since his return from a thigh injury.

The main beneficiary from the league leaders' blips are clearly Real Madrid, who now only sit a single point behind their rivals. They've won 10 on the spin in all competitions, the last eight without even conceding.

As well as Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema has also recently shouldered more of the goalscoring burden, the striker perhaps aware of his World Cup prospects.

If Real can make it 11 straight victories and come away from fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday with all three points, they'll be confident of keeping that run going in February, as they face Villarreal, Getafe and Elche before their Champions League last 16 first leg at Schalke and then the Madrid derby versus Atletico at the start of March.

La Liga is providing the tightest title race in Europe at the moment, and this next month could be crucial in deciding who finishes on top of the pile in May.

As for the bottom, Real Betis looked doomed - 10 points adrift, 11 goals shipped in three straight defeats, and they're on their third manager of the season already, with Gabriel Humberto Calderon replacing Juan Carlos Garrido after just 48 days.

Rayo Vallecano's Paco Jemez is treading on thin ice - his side are second-bottom.


Paris Saint-Germain are still top dog in Ligue 1, with just the one defeat all season, despite suffering a shock home loss to Montpellier in the Coupe de France.

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi has won yet more admirers after his recent performances, but speculation continues to surround striker Edinson Cavani and his reported desire to leave PSG six months into his five-year contract.

Yohan Cabaye's recruitment is a decent move to keep their title tilt going. And yet they're still struggling to shake off Monaco, who have successfully shaken off the attentions of the authorities.

They paid the French league 50 million Euros to end their tax dispute and stop them having to move to France, where clubs are liable to pay 75 percent tax on salaries over 1 million Euros.

Fifty million is a drop in the ocean for Russian owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, who is perhaps more concerned by a knee injury for Radamel Falcao which has ruled his record signing out for the rest of the season.

Emmanuel Riviere has scored three in two games, and he'll be relied upon heavily for the principality's trip to the Parc des Princes next weekend.

Behind those two and Lille, there's a fight on for fourth place, with only six points covering current incumbents Saint-Etienne and Lorient in 10th.

It's Lyon in sixth who are putting forward the most convincing argument to qualify for the Europa League next season - after a 4-0 thrashing at PSG in early December, Remi Garde's side have responded superbly, going unbeaten since and winning their last six in league and cup.

Young striker Alexandre Lacazette is definitely one to watch, his Ligue 1 tally standing at 20 from 12 starts. At the sharp end, it's Ajaccio and Sochaux who are occupying perilous positions, 11 and nine points off safety respectively.

Herve Renard has failed to deliver having won the permanent manager's job on the Swiss border, likewise Christian Bracconi on the island of Corsica. Valenciennes are showing a bit more fighting spirit under Ariel Jacobs, but they'll need more to rise above 18th where they've been since September.


Champions Juventus are still enjoying a comfortable advantage in Serie A, despite last weekend's slightly surprising draw at Lazio to follow their exit at Roma in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.

That result might give Rudy Garcia's even more heart - it was the fourth of a five-match winning streak since being outclassed 3-0 at the Juventus Stadium in the league.

Roma's season is still exceeding expectations, and it's been boosted by the return of Francesco Totti and Gervinho, so don't rule out a renewed charge for the Scudetto just yet.

It wasn't so long ago that the capital side frittered away their lead at the top by drawing with supposedly inferior opposition - now it's Napoli who are doing the same.

Rafa Benitez has been frustrated by recent games where they threw away a win at Bologna and only just grabbed a point at home to Chievo - both of those are in the bottom five.

Fiorentina meanwhile will have to cope for at least a couple of months without striker Giuseppi Rossi, victim of another knee injury. That is some setback, given that he'd scored 14 goals in 18 Serie A starts.

AC Milan finally bit the bullet and got rid of Massimiliano Allegri mid-way through January, swiftly bringing in club legend Clarence Seedorf as their new head coach.

The Rossoneri enjoyed narrow league successes over Hellas Verona and Cagliari, but they needed late Mario Balotelli goals on both occasions.

The combination of Seedorf and Balotelli is crucial to Milan's campaign, although Super Mario will need to stop picking up yellow cards. The signing of Michael Essien is a smart one, and it should bring some maturity to their midfield.

Seedorf was one of five managerial switches in Italy in January, Lazio and Bologna bringing in Edoardo Reja and Davide Ballardini to replace Vladimir Petkovic and Stefano Pioli respectively - those latter two had been under pressure for some time.

Livorno and Catania also have new men in the dugout, although bizarrely for Catania, that involved 'doing a Chievo' - in other words, sacking Luigi de Canio to replace him with his predecessor, Rolando Maran.


The Bundesliga has only just resumed after their winter break, but already it looks like Bayern Munich have it all sewn up.

Pep Guardiola can hardly have imagined it would be this easy - his charges are 13 points clear having beaten Borussia Moenchengladbach and Stuttgart away, while nearest challengers Bayer Leverkusen have lost their last three and Borussia Dortmund are without a win in four in the league.

Bayern's next three games are against opponents currently in the bottom five, so they might as well put their feet up and concentrate on their Champions League last 16 tie with Arsenal, while Dortmund will have to face the rest of the season without one of their Polish stars, Jakub Blaszczykowski, who suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in the 2-2 draw against Augsburg.

Hamburg are the latest side to start sinking - four straight defeats have put Rafael van der Vaart and co. in the bottom three, with the second-leakiest defence in the division.

Surely Bert van Marwijk has the experience and the squad to get them out of trouble, although they must shake off the quicksand sooner rather than later.

So Bayern might be making the Bundesliga a tad boring right now, but the same couldn't be said across the rest of Europe.