Glad tidings for Europe's leading lights?

Real Madrid CF, FC Bayern München, Chelsea FC, Olympique de Marseille and Juventus top the big leagues at Christmas, but how safe are they? We investigate.

Bayern will hope to make it three Bundesliga titles in a row
Bayern will hope to make it three Bundesliga titles in a row ©AFP/Getty Images

As many of Europe's big leagues clock off for a well-deserved winter break, the sides who top their domestic tables can enjoy their Christmas dinners knowing history backs them still to be top come the season's end. However, as UEFA.com discovers, Real Madrid CF, FC Bayern München, Chelsea FC, Juventus and Olympique de Marseille – currently top of the big five leagues – cannot rest on their laurels yet.

SPAIN
2013/14 Christmas leaders: FC Barcelona, League winners: Club Atlético de Madrid
2012/13 – Christmas leaders: Barcelona, League winners: Barcelona
2011/12 Christmas leaders: Real Madrid, League winners: Real Madrid
2010/11 Christmas leaders: Barcelona, League winners: Barcelona
2009/10 Christmas leaders: Barcelona, League winners: Barcelona
Only once in the last five seasons have the Christmas leaders lost top spot in the new year. Barcelona were level on points with Atlético last season, but Diego Simeone's side eventually squeezed them out, clinching the title by three points with a final-day 1-1 draw at Camp Nou.

GERMANY
2013/14  Christmas leaders: Bayern München, League winners: Bayern
2012/13 Christmas leaders: Bayern, League winners: Bayern
2011/12 Christmas leaders: Bayern, League winners: Dortmund
2010/11 Christmas leaders: Dortmund, League winners: Dortmund
2009/10 Christmas leaders: Leverkusen, League winners: Bayern
Bayern extended their seven-point Christmas lead to a 19-point gap by the end of last season, having enhanced their lead by six points in the spring the previous season. However, they let a three-point Christmas lead slip in 2011/12, while Leverkusen's title challenge collapsed in 2009/10 as they slipped from top spot to fifth in the new year.

ENGLAND
2013/14 Christmas leaders: Liverpool FC, League winners: Manchester City FC
2012/13 Christmas leaders: Manchester United FC, League winners: Manchester United
2011/12 Christmas leaders: Manchester City, League winners: Manchester City
2010/11 Christmas leaders: Manchester United, League winners: Manchester United
2009/10 Christmas leaders: Chelsea, League winners: Chelsea
As in Spain, last season broke a run of title successes for the Christmas leaders. Luis Suárez struck twice in a 3-1 win against Cardiff City AFC on 21 December to put Liverpool top of the table on Christmas Day – on goal difference from Arsenal FC. City were a point back on 25 December, but eventually took the title by two points – despite the Reds' 11-game winning run in the second half of the season.

ITALY
2013/14
Christmas leaders: Juventus, League winners: Juventus 
2012/13 Christmas leaders: Juventus, League winners: Juventus
2011/12 Christmas leaders: Juventus, League winners: Juventus
2010/11 Christmas leaders: AC Milan, League winners: Milan
2009/10 Christmas leaders: Inter, League winners: Inter
Serie A has been the safest of Europe's big leagues for Christmas leaders in the last five seasons, with the side who went into the new year top invariably claiming the Scudetto. Juventus are once more going into the break leading the way, but their three-point advantage is less significant than the five and eight-point leads they held in the previous two campaigns. Some hope, however flimsy, for their challengers.

FRANCE
2013/14 – Christmas leaders: Paris Saint-Germain, League winners: Paris

2012/13 – Christmas leaders: Paris, League winners: Paris
2011/12 Christmas leaders: Paris, League winners: Montpellier Hérault SC
2010/11 Christmas leaders: LOSC Lille, League winners: LOSC
2009/10 – Christmas leaders: FC Girondins de Bordeaux, League winners: Marseille
Chastened perhaps by their failure to hold on to top spot in 2011/12, Paris have substantially enhanced their Christmas leads to take the title in the last two seasons. LOSC, meanwhile, turned a one-goal Christmas lead into an eight-point winning margin in 2010/11, while Bordeaux endured a spectacular collapse the previous season. Nine points clear at Christmas, they lost eight times in a nightmare spring to end up sixth in the final standings, Marseille rising from fourth at the start of 2010 to finish top.

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