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As the rest of the world slowed down post-pandemic, the title race in Europe’s top leagues reached a frenetic pace, with reigning champions Real Madrid, PSG and Juventus struggling to assert their usual dominance.
Bayern remains on top in Germany, but Borussia Dortmund has been overrun by the resurgent Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt in a new-look top four.
The international break offers a timely opportunity to take stock of LaLiga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 before the contenders prepare their final push for the title.
Persistent off-field distractions have overshadowed Barcelona’s sensational form, with Ronald Koeman’s men winning 12 of their last 13 league games, a run capped off by Monday's (AEDT) 6-1 demolition of Real Sociedad.
With four-points left to make up on a faltering Atleti side (which Barca hosts on 9 May), Ronald Koeman’s side is well placed to end a turbulent year with silverware. Ending the year on a high could be crucial to appease disgruntled fans and tempt Lionel Messi to stay.
Atleti is yet to be dethroned since going top of the league in November, but a run of four wins in its last nine games has seen Diego Simeone’s side accused of choking at the final hurdle.
With Barcelona and Real Madrid coming home strong, Atleti fans will be praying the four-point buffer will be enough, but there’s still plenty of football left with 10 games to play.
Arguably the most hotly-contested title race in Europe, only four points separate the top four with eight games to play.
PSG has been desperately trying to reclaim top spot from the ever-consistent Lille, having lost three of its 30 league matches this season.
The reigning champion punished Lille for an unlikely slip-up against Nimes, beating Lyon on to go top, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side is still far from guaranteed its eighth league title in nine seasons.
PSG welcomes Lille in their first game back from the international break and the blockbuster on 4 April could decide who is crowned champion at season’s end.
WATCH PSG v Lille LIVE on beIN SPORTS on 4 April from 2am AEDT | available via Foxtel, Kayo Sports, Fetch TV & beIN SPORTS CONNECT
Don’t overlook the other genuine title contenders, with Lyon three points off PSG despite yesterday’s defeat, while Monaco’s exciting young side under former Bayern boss Niko Kovac has emerged as a late bolter.
Juventus’s 10-year dynasty at the top of Italian football is all but over after a shock defeat to Benevento heading into the international break.
Andrea Pirlo and Cristiano Ronaldo have endured heavy backlash from fans of late with the Old Lady now 10-points off the top and out of the UEFA Champions League.
It doesn’t get any easier for Juve after the break, with a Turin derby, plus a meeting with each of the current top six before the end of their campaign.
Inter meanwhile, keeps pulling further away from the pack on the back of its eight-match win streak in the league, while second-placed Milan kept the gap to six points with a hard-fought win over Fiorentina.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from injury, expect a renewed push for the Scudetto from the Rossoneri to finish the season.
Despite losing star striker Papu Gomez to Sevilla in January, Atalanta continues to live up to its moniker as Serie A’s entertainer, leading the way in goals scored while winning six of their last seven games.
The only league where the reigning champion sits firmly at the summit, Bayern tops the Bundesliga and remains on track for a record ninth-consecutive domestic title.
Second-placed RB Leipzig is eyeing its own history by winning Germany’s top flight for the first time, and the club’s fate could be decided when it hosts Bayern in the first game back from the international break.
WATCH RB Leipzig v Bayern LIVE on beIN SPORTS on 4 April from 2.30am AEDT | available via Foxtel, Kayo Sports, Fetch TV & beIN SPORTS CONNECT
Despite the scintillating form of Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund has been knocked out of the top four by Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg.
Frankfurt has been revived with the return of Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid, partnering Portuguese prodigy Andre Silva up front.
Frankfurt struck gold with Silva since making his loan move from AC Milan permanent, with the 25 year-old scoring 21 goals in 24 games.
Three-years ago Wolfsburg was fighting for its top-flight survival in a play-off against Holstein Kiel - now and the historic club back where it belongs and challenging for a spot in the Champions League. The league’s in-form midfielder Maximillian Arnold has been at the heart of The Wolves return to former glory.
A special mention has to go to newly-promoted Union Berlin, a universally-loved underdog operating on a shoestring budget. Urs Fischer’s side currently sits in seventh spot with only six defeats, three fewer than Borussia Dortmund this season.