IT’S that time of the season when football fans are engaged in weighing the chances of their teams either winning the league or avoiding relegation trap, all depending on the outcome of remaining few matches.
It may be a bit too early to pick a winner anywhere, barring, perhaps, in the Premier League, where Chelsea are perched comfortably on top. But there seems to be more excitement in the battle for survival and obviously there’s more focus on the bottom teams and their coming fixtures.
The strugglers are exploring all options, including change of managers, to stay put in the premier division, with Leicester City’s decision to fire last season’s title-winning coach Claudio Ranieri stunning almost everyone.
There’re other managers too, in La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and elsewhere, who met with the Italian’s fate, giving an indication of how things are heating up at the bottom.
Coming to Qatar Stars League, the battle line for the title is drawn pretty clear, with Al Sadd and Lekhwiya staying level on points. It’s the fight for survival that has taken a new dimension, with four teams being relegated, following the Qatar Football Association’s bold move to downsize the competition to 12 from next season.
With just four rounds to go, Al Wakrah, Muaither, Al Shahaniya and Al Khor occupy the bottom four places while Al Sailiya and Al Ahli hover just above the relegation zone.
In the Second Division, Al Markhiya and Qatar Sports Club are first and second respectively, almost certain to earn promotion.
But there could still be a slight change to the script regarding the format that’ll be applied for relegation and promotion.
There’re whispers within the football fraternity that the authorities are contemplating to wind up El Jaish or merge them with Lekhwiya. Should that happen, only three teams will be relegated. Sometimes, it could be only two as the third is to be decided through a play-off against the second-placed side from the lower division. Consequently, the last few rounds in the Second Division too assume a lot of significance as only the winner is guaranteed automatic promotion.
All in all, one thing is certain — the final few rounds are going to be exciting like never before, with the bottom half getting a lot of attention.