Soccer Season Previews: MLS Second Half, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1

September 5, 2023

Football fans are still gearing up for fall excitement, but European soccer fans don’t have to wait that long. The Premier League and La Liga have already kicked off, and other leagues in mainland Europe are ready to reboot their new seasons. And Major League Soccer is ready to restart action after its summer break.



If MLS operated like the rest of the football world, this would seem straightforward with FC Cincinnati currently holding a solid eight-point lead in the overall standings.

However, the top nine teams in each of the two conferences qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. That’s good news for Inter Miami, which is last in the East but are only 12 points out of a playoff spot with 12 matches to go.

Oh, and they just added arguably the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, the 7-time Ballon d’Or winner who has propelled them to a six-game unbeaten streak and into the Leagues Cup Final.

All that to say, taking Inter Miami at +750 to win the MLS doesn’t seem like that long of odds given the league’s unique format.

Hany Mukhtar leads the league with 13 goals and is the favorite to lead the regular season as the top goalscorer at +320, but is that enough goals to avoid being caught by Messi, who currently is the third favorite at +460 just behind Denis Bouanga (+450)?


Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit and look at Bundesliga futures. There isn’t much to be said here other than anticipating that Bayern Munich, who are -380 to win the league, will win  its 12th consecutive championship.

For seven of those seasons, including the last two, Borussia Dortmund has finished second but are unlikely to truly challenge the Bavarian club this year, especially after Munich replaced superstar striker Robert Lewandowski with Harry Kane ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.

Speaking of Kane, while he doesn’t currently show up in the Top Goalscorer odds, expect that to change and for him to immediately become the favorite ahead of Dortmund’s Sebastian Haller (+800).

Ligue 1

here is little reason to expect anything less than a Paris Saint-Germain title, which would be their 10th in the last 13 seasons. Sure, they’ve lost Messi and Neymar, and things remain unsettled with Kylian Mbappe, but they’ve added attacking options like Marco Asensio, Kang-in Lee and Ousmane Dembele.

The Parisians sit at -320 for a reason — it’s their title to lose. As long as the club can smooth everything over, taking Mbappe at +127 to lead the league in goals is probably the best play, though if he leaves, consider Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette at +1000.

With those two out of the way, we can look at some of the tighter races in the world of European football.

La Liga

La Liga started its season last weekend. Real Madrid is the current favorite at –135, followed by Barcelona  (+175) and Atletico Madrid (+850). Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is out for the season because of an ACL injury, though they brought in Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan from Chelsea to stabilize the position.

Barcelona has one of the top five goalscorers of the modern era in Lewandowski, and they also brought in Ilkay Gundogan from Manchester City to improve their ability to get service into Lewandowski after he scored a “mere” 23 goals in 34 La Liga contests last season.

While they may have the longest odds of the top three, don’t sleep on Atletico, who bolstered their backend with Javi Galan and Caglar Soyuncu while also having Antoine Griezmann and Memphis Depay up top.

The top goalscorer odds don’t offer much intrigue, considering Lewandowski is -175 and the next closest is Griezmann at +1200. It will likely take a long-term injury for Lewandowski not to win the Golden Boot.

Serie A

Four teams are legitimately in contention according to the odds — Inter (+185), Napoli (+280), Juventus (+350) and AC Milan (+480). This is now the most wide open high level league in Europe.

Looking at leading goalscorer props, Victor Osimhen (Napoli), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Rafael Leao (AC Milan) and Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus) are all in the top five for potential Golden Boot winner.

AC Milan may have the longest odds of the four clubs, but they have significantly improved their midfield/forward options with the additions of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Samuel Chukwueze, Yunus Musah and Christian Pulisic, and Sandro Tonali’s departure to Newcastle United as the only notable loss.

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