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Who’s Likely To Win The Five Big European Soccer Leagues

Since FiveThirtyEight relaunched with ESPN, we’ve created predictions for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NWSL, the men’s and women’s World Cup, college football, college basketball and tennis. Now we’re adding another set for the world’s most popular sport. Introducing: Club soccer predictions!

Our new ratings — which are a revamped version of the ESPN Soccer Power Index (SPI) of national teams, adapted to the club game — use in-game player and ball-location data to assess the quality of shots and opportunities that teams generate. This gives us a better picture of performance than can be gleaned from game outcomes alone; you can read more in our full methodology here. Based on each team’s performance we calculate an offensive and defensive rating, which are used to predict the outcome of matches over the rest of the season.

Right now, our predictions cover Europe’s five strongest club leagues — England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 — and the Champions League. Our prediction pages are available in English and Spanish. Here’s how each league stands.


Premier League

CHANCE OF …
TEAM MAKING CHAMP. LG. WINNING PREMIER LG.
Chelsea 96% 62%
Liverpool 79 15
Arsenal 71 9
Tottenham 70 9
Man. City 54 4
Man. United 29 <1

Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League

Chelsea has opened up a seven-point lead on its Premier League rivals, and is threatening to run away with the title. Our ratings don’t consider the Blues to be significantly stronger than the other teams at the top of the table: We narrowly rate their defense as the league’s best, but their offense as just the third-best behind Arsenal’s and Liverpool’s. But even though Chelsea isn’t necessarily the best team in the league, seven points is a large margin with 17 games to play; we give Chelsea a 62 percent chance of taking the title. If our forecasted standings hold, both Manchester United and Manchester City will be left out of the top four for the first time in Premier League history.

soccer-predictions

Who will win the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Champions League? See our predictions »

On the other side of the table, 2015-16 Cinderella Leicester City has fallen hard. While at the start of the season we projected the Foxes to finish ninth, they currently sit in 15th place, and we give them a 12 percent chance of being relegated. Swansea City, which skyrocketed from the fourth tier to the Premier League between 2005 and 2011, has a 61 percent chance of relegation.


La Liga

CHANCE OF …
TEAM MAKING CHAMP. LG. Winning
La Liga
Real Madrid >99% 49%
Barcelona >99 46
Sevilla 82 3
Atletico Madrid 68 <1
Villarreal 22 <1
Real Sociedad 18 <1

Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League

Real Madrid recently saw its 40-game unbeaten streak come to an end, but the club still holds a one-point lead in La Liga with a game in hand. Our ratings still consider third-place Barcelona to be the stronger team on both sides of the ball, which makes Real’s offense merely the second-best in the world. This leaves us with a neck-and-neck race for the league title, with a pivotal matchup between the two clubs looming in Madrid on April 23.

Sevilla sits in second place, but we don’t expect the club to finish in first. Its goal differential is nearly half that of Real and Barcelona, and we rate Sevilla’s offense as about a goal per game worse than the other two teams’. Nevertheless, Sevilla is in good position to qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top four in La Liga, after having qualified as the Europa League champion in each of the last two seasons.


Bundesliga

CHANCE OF …
TEAM MAKING CHAMP. LG. WINNING BUNDESLIGA
Bayern Munich >99% 91%
RB Leipzig 83 6
Dortmund 80 3
Eintracht 34 <1
Hertha Berlin 32 <1
Hoffenheim 27 <1
Bayer 17 <1
FC Cologne 14 <1

Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League

Bayern is in the driver’s seat here, seeking its fifth-straight Bundesliga title. RB Leipzig — which played in Germany’s second division last season but isn’t exactly a heartwarming underdog — is only three points behind in the table. Our ratings consider RB to be a much inferior team to Bayern, though, and goal differential agrees. We peg Dortmund as the second-best offense and fourth-best defense in the league, but an ugly 7-win, 6-draw, 3-loss start has the club in sixth place, with too much ground to make up.

The battle for Champions League qualification is a bit more exciting. Bayern is a lock and we expect RB and Dortmund to qualify as well, but the league’s fourth spot is wide open. Hoffenheim — which narrowly avoided relegation last season — has a 27 percent chance of completing an impressive turnaround by finishing in the top four.


Serie A

CHANCE OF …
TEAM MAKING CHAMP. LG. WINNING SERIE A
Juventus 93% 60%
Roma 78 23
Napoli 64 13
Lazio 22 2
Inter Milan 21 1
AC Milan 11 <1
Atalanta 7 <1

Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League

Italy’s club season also started with a clear favorite, as Juventus sought its sixth-straight title. The club currently holds a one-point lead with a game in hand, and we rate Juve’s defense as the best in Serie A. AS Roma and Napoli have slightly stronger offenses and a combined 36 percent chance of winning the league. Those three teams are the favorites to take the league’s three Champions League spots as well, with Lazio and both Milan clubs capable of making spoiler runs.


Ligue 1

CHANCE OF …
TEAM MAKING CHAMP. LG. WINNING LIGUE 1
PSG 97% 48%
Monaco 97 48
Lyon 51 2
Nice 47 1

Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of qualifying for Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain entered the 2016-17 season as a heavy favorite to win its fifth-straight league title, with our preseason projections giving PSG a 91 percent chance against its relatively weak opposition. Twenty matches in, PSG sits at third in the table with 42 points, three behind Nice and Monaco. We have ourselves a race!

We expect the title battle to come down to PSG and Monaco, which are now closely matched in our ratings (with Nice considerably lower). Fourth-place Lyon has only 34 points in 19 games, but it’s also much stronger than Nice and we expect the two clubs to closely contest the league’s third Champions League spot.


Champions League

CHANCE OF …
TEAM MAKING FINAL WINNING CHAMP. LG.
Barcelona 43% 25%
Bayern Munich 28 16
Real Madrid 23 12
Juventus 21 10
Man. City 14 6
Dortmund 14 6
Atletico Madrid 12 5
Arsenal 10 5
Sevilla 9 4
Napoli 8 4

Teams with a greater than 5 percent chance of reaching the Champions League final

The group stage of the Champions League is behind us, with relatively few surprises. Tottenham and Dynamo Kiev probably were the two best teams eliminated: They had a 68 percent and 58 percent chance of advancing, respectively. AS Monaco and Benfica advanced in their stead.

The knockout stage begins on February 14. Barcelona, which faces Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, remains the favorite to win the title at 25 percent. Bayern, Real and Juventus are close behind. We give the other 12 teams just a 37 percent chance of winning, combined. Leicester City’s magic carried the club through the group stage, but its poor Premier League play has lowered its ratings. We give Leicester just a 29 percent chance of advancing past Sevilla to the quarterfinals, and a 1 percent chance of making the final.

Check out our latest soccer predictions.

Reuben Fischer-Baum is a visual journalist for FiveThirtyEight.

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