PSV Eindhoven won its 16 first games in the Netherland league. Bayer Leverkusen leads the Bundesliga since the beginning. Girona distance Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at the top of the LaLiga. And Aston Villa ends 2023 in second position in the Premier League standing.

Girona F.C., PSV Eindhoven, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Aston Villa F.C. and Bologna F.C. are featuring as the five best teams during the first part of the 2023-24 season in Europe. They call attention through their outstanding performance in the Spanish, Dutch, German, English and Italian leagues. The first three mentioned lead their respective championship whereas the fourth and fifth ones changed from playing to keep on in the first tier to contenders for the championship in England and Italy.

Only PSV Eindhoven is a usual contender in the Netherland league. None of the four other teams aspired to be champion at any moment in their respective league championship over the last ten years. Bayer Leverkusen’s highest ranking during that period was a third position in the 2021-22 and 2015-16 Bundesliga season though it has always kept from falling above the fourth rank.

Something special about PSV is that it hasn’t won the Eredivisie in five years. What is at odd with its rank as it got the trophy 10 times in 20 years from 1999 to 2018. With 10 points lead over Feyenoord in the current season table and 16 wins in as many as games, Peter Bosz’s squad set forth its intent of ending the bad luck.

Yet, with Bosz, it has been proved that a new idea was missing. He, who arrived as a free agent after being released from the sinking Olympic Lyonnais’s boat last year, is acting as a great commander with his team is playing the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Bosz’ influence is even more eloquent that the team did not need to spend much money in recruiting superstars. The club from Eindhoven, which the market value is €285 million, according to the website transfermarkt.com, has had a positive balance of more than €80 million over the last two years. It recruited for just €64.00 million while selling for €144 million.

Another European team that let it be clear that it wants its league championship this year is the Bayer Leverkusen, which lead the Bundesliga since the beginning ahead of the giant Bayern Munich. And, the club from the North Rhine-Westphalia would make history if they won it since it would be its first one. Its highest ranking was being a runner-up in 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-02 and 2010-11.

Leverkusen was nevertheless a European charming team of the end the 90’s and the debut of the 2000’s. It unfortunately failed to win the 2001-02 UEFA Champions League, as it was defeated (1-2) by the great Real Madrid and its elegant Zinedine Zidane. The current managing team took a chance with a young and inexperienced coach, Xabi Alonzo, and it works, to the point that mastodont like Real Madrid, Liverpool and even Bayern Munich, his three former clubs, are thinking about recruiting him. 

In terms of money expenditure, Bayer paid out €96 million to renew the squad over the last two years. That made it the 43th bigger investors on players. Those who left were valued at €78 million, resulting a negative balance of around €18 million.

One of the three next teams, Gerone, Aston Villa and Bologna, has a certain glorious past. Aston Villa won the Premier League seven times, the last one in 1980-81, and it was a runner-up 10 times, the last time in 1992-93. It also triumphed in the Champions League 1981-82 campaign and the UEFA Super Cup 1982.

After more than three decades without a significant impact on both the domestic and European leagues, the club management has been doing some investment that brough to the fans a reason to hope some great outcomes. This year, they brought in a very experienced and winner of four Europa League titles, Unai Emery, to replace the novice Steven Gerard who was not able to lead the team to better than 14th ranking the year before. With a half season completed with just two points behind the leader Liverpool, Villa’s fans can dare dream big.

When it came to money, the club from Birmingham did bet a lot on players, €193 million over the last two years, with a negative balance of €107 million. This is a heavy burden for a team that is not competing in the Champions League. Hopefully, the minimum goal of being part of the biggest competition in the European continent will be met next season.

Nobody expected a little club from Catalunya, Girona F.C., at the top of the LaLiga table in this mid-season. A team with €161 million as a market value, that invested only €37 million in players recruiting over two years, leads a championship with Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in, is doing much more than great. All this with a manager, Miguel Ángel Sánchez Muñoz, who carries no significant achievement either as a player or as a coach. Something even more interesting is that Girona beat FC Barcelona 4-2 in Barcelona this December.

Bologna F.C. is another team that is wondering the European football. Only Inter Milan, Juventus Turin and AC Milan are doing better in the Italian Serie A. It may be the time for Bologna to return to the top as a past winner, seven times: 1924–25, 1928-29, 1935-36, 1936-37, 1938–39, 1940-41 and 1963-64. With again a young and unexperienced coach, Thiago Motta, in post for two years, the club from northern Italy targets at least a ticket to the UEFA Champions League.

And Bologna is doing good businesses since they recruited for €82 million and sold for €76 million in 2022-24. A qualification to the Champions League would be a satisfying achievement for a club with a market value of €202 million.

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