It's likely, perhaps even an inevitability, that the 2013-14 champions of Europe will not come from the English Premier League. The usual suspects out of Spain will again be favorites, as will the competition's winners from a season ago. Heck, AC Milan or Galatasaray could even make a run.
OK, maybe that's pushing it.
The EPL title race is shaping up to be one for the books. Two points separate leaders Arsenal (45 points) from third-place Chelsea, and Manchester City sit between those two sides in the table. Liverpool is but six points off of the Gunners, with Everton only a point behind the club being carried by the Luis Suarez express.
Even Tottenham Hotspur, which recently exchanged head coach Andre Villas-Boas for Tim Sherwood, are still in the hunt. Spurs trail their north London rivals by just seven points at the conclusion of the festive period.
No other top-tier European league comes close to matching the excitement currently found in England. Only Roma and Napoli are going to give Juventus a run in the Serie A race. La Liga will, at best, be a three-team show, and that's only if Atletico Madrid prove to have staying power. Bundesliga is again all about Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen. Ligue 1 is similar to La Liga in that three clubs will be in it to win the top-flight French competition.
And what of Champions League? Popular opinion among non-biased fans and analysts is that Arsenal is about to be booted out of that competition by Bayern Munich. Don't count the Gunners out, though, especially if they can keep Bayern off the scoreboard when the two sides meet at the Emirates on February 19.
City had the goods to win trophies a season ago. They now have the depth to hang in multiple competitions and even win in both England and in Europe. Do not write City off merely because they were paired up against Barcelona in the round of 16.
Chelsea remains an enigma. Jose Mourinho has a side so rich in talent that he could sell Juan Mata without even noticing. He's also going to have his pick in the January transfer window because, you know, Roman Abramovich.
Manchester United are the biggest concern when it comes to English sides in Champions League. United sit 11 points behind Arsenal in the league table, and David Moyes rather than Sir Alex Ferguson being on the touchline isn't all that's ailing what was the Premier League's best team a season ago.
The Premier League is responsible for the world's top goal-scorer in the previously mentioned Suarez. Weekends in the EPL are as fun as you'll find in any other league (you check out those Swansea City vs. Manchester City and United-Spurs games on Wednesday?). There are, right now, 10 teams in the league's relegation battle.
Best in the world? You betcha.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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- English Premier League
- Bayern Munich
- Manchester City
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Real Madrid