Last weekend saw the first season-ending rounds of domestic games in both the Premier League and Bundesliga. Bayern Munich pipped Borussia Dortmund to the German title while Leeds United and Leicester City joined Southampton in going down to the EFL Championship and Aston Villa made Europe. Paris Saint-Germain also finally got their 11th French title over the line which leaves just relegation and Europe to decide in France. There promises to be more drama over the coming days with our first UEFA competition final in midweek with the Europa League final (live on Paramount+) before the remaining leagues play out as well as the FA Cup final.
We look at some of the questions to have arisen from this past weekend across European soccer.
Can Saints, Leeds and Leicester return?
The Premier League's final day was predictably mad with teams swapping positions and notably in the relegation battle. Leeds and Leicester eventually joined Saints in going down, but the big question is how many of them -- if any -- bounce back immediately? Leeds and Leicester's squad are arguably better suited to immediately placing themselves near the top of the Championship while Southampton need more of a project restructuring before building back towards the topflight. Dean Smith should be better suited to life in the second tier despite an inevitable exodus of talent while the Whites and Saints will look for new bosses to turn them around in as little time as possible. Leeds' U.S. men's national team contingent of Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Weston McKennie (loan from Juventus expires this summer) might not stick around at Elland Road, but they will still be favorites to return at the first time of asking along with Leicester.
How will Dortmund digest Bundesliga heartbreak?
This past weekend, even by their standards, was a spectacular failure from Edin Terzic's side and it is going to take time for those wounds to heal. The Bundesliga title was within reach yet BVB's ability to find a way to throw away their best opportunities to bury Bayern was too strong to be prevented from coming to the fore once again. It is unlikely that Thomas Tuchel's men will be as generous again next year and it could be a while before Dortmund find themselves with a shot at being crowned German kings. Experienced heads like Marco Reus and Mats Hummels will be required to lead as the team regroups without the likes of Jude Bellingham but also Raphael Guerreiro. It could be a long road back to title contention for this side which starts this summer.
Should Juve follow Roma's example?
Jose Mourinho's men are currently illustrating how to use UEFA's three main properties to your advantage when domestic competition is fierce with the Giallorossi on the verge of following up their Europa Conference League title with that of the Europa League. Should Roma succeed, they will have worked their way up from the third tier to Europe's top table for next season and the UECL is where Juve could find themselves next term. The Bianconeri's latest points deduction places them seventh although they could finish as high as fifth depending upon Atalanta and Roma's results on the final day. Perhaps the best approach for Juve is to see how Mourinho's side have worked their way up the ladder and aim to do the same as the club and squad gets rebuilt after this latest controversy.
Can both Celta Vigo and Valencia avoid the drop?
Incredibly, any of six teams could go down from La Liga this coming weekend with Valencia and Celta Vigo two of the bigger names fighting to avoid the final relegation place in the Spanish topflight. To lose either would be a huge loss for the league in terms of prestige, especially Valencia who were top-half regulars until recent years. Both have tough games with Celta at home to Barcelona and Valencia away at Real Betis so the chances of one of them slipping through the trapdoor should be considered substantial.
UEFA-less Lyon, Nice and Monaco good news?
In France, Nice and Lyon are already as good as out of UEFA competition for next season and could be joined by Monaco who now are in a three-way fight with Lille and Rennes for just two spots. OL have spent time away from continental competition in recent years which has not necessarily helped them to retool sufficiently while Nice remain one of the most talented yet inconsistent squads in the league. Potentially add Monaco to that and there will be three clubs of significant pedigree out of Europe as the likes of RC Lens return to the continental stage after years away. Perhaps with some of the names changing, Ligue 1 finally sees an upturn in results in UEFA competitions with their coefficient ranking under serious threat.