The relegation battle in the top five UEFA leagues this season involves several big clubs. In previous seasons, top teams in the past such as the winner of 1982 the European Cup, Aston Villa; the champions in the following season, Hamburg SV; 1997 UEFA Cup winner Schalke 04; 1992 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Champion, Werder Bremen; La Liga winner in 2002 and 2004 Valencia or Ligue 1 winner in 1995 and 2001, Nantes had to struggle to avoid going down to the second tier. Some managed to survive while others did not.
Such is not so much different this season. Some of the former elite teams in all European top five leagues, except Spanish La Liga, have to deal with a relegation battle instead of being involved in the title race or a battle for securing a berth in European competition next season.
The Relegation Battle in European Top Flights in 2021/22 Season Includes the Former Elite Sides
English Premier League
In the Premier League, champions of UEFA Cup Winners Cup 1985, Everton have had a rough season. After sacking Rafa Benitez, The Toffees have not improved their form under Frank Lampard. They are still sitting on 17th with 25 points or only three points clear from Watford in 19th. They are also only one point ahead of Burnley, who defeated the Toffees 3-2 on Wednesday.
Despite having an extra game in hand (on Watford), Jordan Pickford and Company must strive for safety with Newcastle, Leeds, Watford and Burnley as others facing potential relegation. Unfortunately, it will not be easy as they still have to take on Manchester United at home (April 9), Liverpool (April 24), Chelsea (May 1) and Arsenal in the final game of the season (May 22).
Considering their unconvincing form with only two wins in nine matches under Lampard’s reign, The Toffees will need to find a way to collect points in matches against Leicester (Home), Watford (Away) as well as pick up some expected wins over Brentford (H) and Crystal Palace (H). It will be tough for them to stay in the top flight unless lady luck is on their side or Lampard inspires his men to bounce back.
In Bundesliga, the champions of 2006-07 season, Vfb Stuttgart are on the verge of sloping to the second tier, should they not make some improvement immediately. They have only collected 27 points in 28 matches and are currently sitting 17th in the standings.
Borna Sosa and company will be fighting over the safety spot against Arminia Biefield and Hertha Berlin (collecting 26 points) plus Ausgburg (29) and Wolfsburg (31) above them. However, there has been positive turnover lately as Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side has been unbeaten in the past four games. They managed to secure two wins and two draws, which should boost their confidence in the relegation battle.
In their remaining six fixtures, Wataru Endo and Company’s hardest challenges are Dortmund at home (April 8) and Bayern on the road (May 5). Considering their positive trend, Stuttgart might be able to seal nine points from three draws versus Dortmund (H), Mainz (A) and Hertha (A), plus two expected wins over Wolfsburg (H) and Koln (H). Such might be enough to save them from the red zone.
Italian Serie A
In Italian Serie A, an elite team in late 1980s and early 1990s, Sampdoria, is involved in the relegation battle again after their improving campaign under Claudio Ranieri in 2021. Il Samp are currently sitting in the 16th on the table, seven points clear from the bottom three.
The road to safety is quite intriguing as the tough oppositions await the 1991 Serie A winner and 1992 Champions League runner-up in their last seven games. There are Lazio (A), Fiorentina (H) and Inter (A) in the final three matches of the season on May 8, 15 and 22 respectively. The best result for Marco Giampolo’s side would be securing eight points from two draws against Bologna (A) and Verona (A) plus two wins over Salernitana (H) and Genoa (H). Those points are likely to be sufficient to win this battle.
French Ligue 1
Meanwhile, in the French top flight, not only one but two former top sides are battling to save their campaign as the relegation threat looms. They are St. Etienne sitting on the 18th and Bordeaux at the bottom. The former was a giant team in 1960s and 1970s with eight titles in two decades alone, including the European Cup runner-up in 1976. The latter was the 2009 Ligue 1 winner plus 1996 UEFA Cup runner-up.
Unfortunately, both clubs have been at one of their lowest forms in history. St. Etienne have collected 27 points, or four points ahead of Yacine Adli and Co and only one point behind the promoted sides, Clermont Foot and Lorient above them. They will still be facing tough sides such as Monaco (H), Rennes (A), Nice (A) and Nantes (A). Considering their inconsistency, they should hope to snatch eight points in their last eight matches, by mustering a draw against Lorient (A) and Bordeaux (A) plus clinching three points while meeting Brest (H) and Reims (H).
Meanwhile, Bordeaux faces greater danger. They have been winless under their new manager David Guion in the past seven games. They are bound to be struggling for even sealing a maximum of six points in their last eight fixtures, two probable three points against Metz (H) and Lorient (H) and sharing spoils versus St.Etienne (H). It might not be sufficient to salvage their top-flight campaign. They shall be getting ready for competing in Ligue 2 next season.
Main Photo: LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 16: Ellis Simms of Everton tangles with Antonio Rudiger of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on December 16, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)