The English Premier League, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 start this Friday 5th August.
Spain’s La Liga starts on August 12th and Italy’s Serie A starts on August 13th.
Never before have Europe’s preeminent football leagues started so early together – never before have they had to create schedules similar to those for 2022-23.
They will also end later than usual because they will be sidelined for over a month in mid-November to squeeze in the 2022 World Cup, the first men’s World Cup to take place outside of its traditional summer window. FIFA moved it to late autumn to accommodate Qatar’s ominous heat.
So the leagues reluctantly revised their calendars. The Champions League group stage also starts earlier than ever. Already packed schedules are further compressed. The rhythm of the season will feel different.
But the league tables?
They will certainly look like they almost always look, with a select few superclubs rising to the top and the growing disparities in European football exposed.
There has been speculation among pundits and fans that the World Cup, which will increase the workload for top players and give others a welcome respite, could favor mediocre clubs sending fewer players to Qatar.
But Bayern Munich is still an absolute favorite (-500) in Germany.
PSG is -1000 in France.
Juventus and the two Milan clubs are at the top of the list of favorites in Italy.
Two duopolies – Liverpool – Manchester City and Barcelona – Real Madrid – are expected to rule (or return to power in the case of Barca) in England and Spain.
In other words, no matter how different fall 2022 feels, spring 2023 should feel familiar. Here’s a rundown of the basics as the season kicks off.
When do the EPL, European leagues start and end?
The dates for the Big Five leagues are:
Bundesliga: August 5 – May 27
First League: August 5 – May 28
League 1: August 5 – June 3
League: August 12 – June 4
Series A: August 13 – June 4
When do the World Cup breaks start and end?
Clubs worldwide must release their players for national teams by Monday 14 November, a week before the start of the World Cup.
Most of the major leagues therefore play until the Saturday weekend, November 12th, and then pause for at least six weeks. Two minor exceptions are La Liga, which plays its games on Wednesdays rather than weekends during the second week of November, allowing Spanish players (and others) to report for World Cup duty a few days earlier; and the second-tier English Championship, which resumes on December 10, with knockout rounds of the World Cup still ongoing.
The Premier League resumes on Boxing Day, December 26, eight days after the World Cup final. The rest return soon after:
League 1: December 28th
League: Dec 31
Series A: January 4th
Bundesliga: 21th January
What about the Champions League 2022-23?
In a typical year, the last two matchdays of the Champions League group stage would be played in late November and early/mid December.
In 2022, the round-robin phase ends on November 2nd. It starts on September 6th. Games remain on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they’ve just been moved forward. Here is the full schedule:
Qualifying Playoffs: 16-17 August and 23-24 August
Matchday 1: 6th-7th September
Matchday 2: September 13th and 14th
Matchday 3: 4th-5th October
4th matchday: 11-12 October
Matchday 5: 25-26 October
Matchday 6: November 1st and 2nd
The round of 16 falls in the same February-March timeframe as last year. However, the quarter-finals were each postponed by a week, and the semi-finals by another week. The Champions League final is set for June 10, the latest scheduled date since the first European Cup final on June 13, 1956.
Who are the favourites?
Liverpool and Man City are the two best teams in Europe. They were for much of last season until City smothered a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid. Both have since reloaded for another run of national and continental glory. (More on transfers below.)
PSG and Bayern Munich are their biggest challengers on the continent. The rest of the contenders are the usual suspects – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid – minus Manchester United, who failed to qualify for the second time in four seasons.
The club best placed to disrupt their dual hegemony in England may be Tottenham. Antonio Conte has now had a full offseason to mold Spurs to his liking – and in the past a full Conte offseason has been a pretty good recipe for success. He won league titles in his first full season with Bari, Juventus and Chelsea and ended Juve’s nine-straight Scudetto run in his second at Inter Milan.
What were the biggest transfers of the summer?
A very partial list of the biggest moves of an already busy transfer window – which doesn’t close until September 1:
Robert Lewandowski | Bayern Munich -> Barcelona
Erling Haaland | Borussia Dortmund —> Manchester City
Sadio Mane | Liverpool -> Bayern Munich
Darwin Nunez | Benfica -> Liverpool
Romelu Lukaku | Chelsea —> Inter Milan (loan)
Raheem Sterling | Manchester City -> Chelsea
Gabriel Jesus | Manchester City -> Arsenal
Matthijs de Ligt | Juventus -> Bayern Munich
Aurelien Tchouameni | Monaco —> Real Madrid
Antonio Ruediger | Chelsea —> Real Madrid
Raphinha | Leeds -> Barcelona
Jules Kounde | Seville —> Barcelona
Lisandro Martinez | Ajax -> Manchester United
Paul Pogba | Manchester United -> Juventus
Kalidou Koulibaly | Napoli -> Chelsea
Angel Di Maria | PSG -> Juventus
Frank Kessie | AC Milan —> Barcelona
Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax -> Bayern Munich
Niklas Sule | Bayern Munich -> Borussia Dortmund
Richardson | Everton -> Tottenham
Calvin Phillips | Leeds —> Manchester City
Oleksandr Zinchenko | Manchester City -> Arsenal
Christian Ericsen | Brentford -> Manchester United
Paulo Dybala | Juventus -> Roma
Ivan Perisic | Inter Milan -> Tottenham
Boubacar Kamara | Marseille —> Aston Villa
Nico Schlotterbeck | Freiburg —> Borussia Dortmund
Karim Adeyemi | RB Salzburg -> Borussia Dortmund
Gleison Bremen | Torino -> Juventus
Nordi Mukiele | RB Leipzig -> PSG
Vitinha | Postage —> PSG
Fabio Vieira | Porto —> Arsenal
Sven Botmann | Lille -> Newcastle
Gianluca Scamacca | Sassuolo -> West Ham
Brenden Aaronson | RB Salzburg -> Leeds
Tyler Adams | RB Leipzig -> Leeds
What big transfers could still happen?
The big name to keep an eye on is Cristiano Ronaldo. In short: he wants to leave Manchester United but none of the Champions League clubs he wants to play for seem to want him.
Where are the best American players this season?
For a decade, American players had drifted out of the Premier League. Suddenly they are numerous again. Here is a complete summary of all relevant US men’s national team players in Europe.
What and who is still new?
Manchester United have a new manager, Erik ten Hag, who they poached from Ajax. So does PSG in Christophe Galtier.
Chelsea have a new ownership group led by American Todd Boehly, who has taken control of the club’s operations and overseen one of the most incoherent summer transfer strategies in recent memory.
Predictions for the English Premier League
7. Crystal Palace
9. West Ham
10. Leicester City
11. Aston Villa
17. Nottingham Forest
Predictions for the German Bundesliga
1. Bayern Munich
3. Bayer Leverkusen
4. RB Leipzig
6. Borussia Monchengladbach
Predictions for La Liga
3. Atlético Madrid
6. Real Betis
Series A Predictions
1. Inter Milan
3. AC Milan
How can I see the European top leagues?
The Premier League can be seen on NBC networks – mainly in the US and on the streaming service Peacock in English and Telemundo in Spanish. The first game, Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal, takes place on Friday at 3pm ET in the US and online.
The Bundesliga and La Liga are on ESPN+ (and very occasionally ESPN or ABC). Some English Championship matches can also be seen on ESPN+.
Serie A and all UEFA competitions – Champions League, Europa League and Conference League – can be seen on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+. (So is the Scottish Premiership.)
Ligue 1 is on beIN Sports and beIN Sports Connect.