European permutations: 9-11 Dec 2016
Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club across the can occupy after the forthcoming round of fixtures. I’ve drawn lines under the lowest Champions League spot, mid-table and the last place above the relegation zone on both “axes” for ease of reference.
These graphics are explained here, but in a nutshell I crunch through every possible combination of results to work out how far it’s mathematically possible for each club to rise and fall.
My employer gets dibs on this one, but now it’s been published I can link to it here:
The six point gap between Tottenham and Man Utd – plus Spurs’ far superior goal difference – renders the top five a little mini-league of its own for the next few rounds at least.
The relegation race is much more open, with nobody even guaranteed to finish the weekend in the bottom three. Bottom side Swansea can escape the drop zone with a home win over Sunderland if West Ham lose at Liverpool.
Bayern can reclaim top spot this weekend if they beat struggling Wolfsburg at home and even-more-struggling Ingolstadt can beat Leipzig, who are on an eight-match winning run.
The five-point gap between Köln and Schalke is splitting the division in two at the moment, with most other sides able to move at least two places in either direction.
Real Madrid are six points clear and so can’t be overtaken at the moment, but the three sides immediately beneath them can each finish the weekend in second place.
The downside of a bad result for Atletico Madrid is potentially falling as far as seventh, with three challengers just two points behind them at the moment.
The bottom two of Granada and Osasuna can only exchange places this weekend but any one of the five sides above them can join them in the bottom three.
Juventus are four points clear and so can’t be dislodged from top spot this weekend, with another four point cushion sparing Roma and Milan from dropping lower than third.
It’s a big weekend for Torino, who could finish it as high as fourth or drop back into mid-table if results go against them.
A six point gap between Bologna and Empoli suggests that the bottom four will be cast adrift for a little while yet.
The top three are basically playing in their own little mini-league at the moment, with PSG eight points clear of fourth-placed Rennes.
It’s a big weekend for both Angers and Montpellier, who can both finish it anywhere between eighth and 16th.
Despite only being three points behind 17th-placed Caen, it’s impossible for bottom side Lorient to move out of the bottom three this weekend thanks to Caen playing 19th-placed Nantes: one of those two is guaranteed to end up with more points than Lorient.