European football round-up: What's happening in Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga

Bayern Munich lifting the Champions League trophy
Bayern Munich beat PSG in the Champions League final last season

The Bundesliga and Serie A get under way this weekend, with Real Madrid starting their La Liga campaign.

With such a short pre-season - and so much in the news recently - there is still plenty to catch up on as we prepare for another hectic season of European football.

BBC Sport take a closer look at what happened this summer around the four major European leagues - away from the Premier League - including key signings, and managerial changes.


When does it start?

Champions Bayern Munich get the season under way at home to Schalke on Friday, at 19:30 BST.

How are the big teams looking?

Bayern Munich - who have won the past eight league titles - have strengthened their squad with the £45m signing of Manchester City winger Leroy Sane. Loan forwards Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho have gone back to their parent clubs Inter Milan and Barcelona.

Borussia Dortmund will be hoping this is finally their season, with talented youngsters Jadon Sancho - still at the club despite interest from Manchester United - and Erling Braut Haaland coming off their best ever campaigns.

English midfielder Jude Bellingham, a £25m signing from Birmingham, became their youngest ever scorer when the 17-year-old netted on his German Cup debut against Duisburg. Belgium right-back Thomas Meunier has also been recruited from Paris St-Germain.

Chelsea have done their bit to weaken the teams who finished third and fifth last time, by bringing in RB Leipzig's all-time top scorer Timo Werner and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz.

What else is new?

Hoffenheim have a new manager, with Sebastian Hoeness taking charge of a senior first team for the first time. He led Bayern Munich's reserve team to the third-tier title last season. If his surname sounds familiar, it is because he is the nephew of ex-Bayern president Uli.

Any other business?

The Bundesliga has decided to allow five substitutions again this season, unlike the Premier League.

Some fans will be allowed into games depending on which state they are in. Borussia Dortmund will have 10,000 fans at their opening home game with Borussia Monchengladbach.

RB Leipzig are allowed to have 8,400 supporters,external-link while Union and Hertha Berlin can have about 4,000 each.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi will be staying at Barcelona after his bid to get a free transfer was rejected

La Liga

When did it start?

The Spanish top-flight season started last weekend - on Saturday, 12 September - but Real Madrid are not in action until this Sunday, with Barcelona's season starting a week later.

How are the big teams looking?

This could be an interesting season for Barcelona. Club legend Lionel Messi is staying - but only because Barca would not let him go on a free transfer - and he is not too happy.

They also have a new manager with Ronald Koeman replacing Quique Setien after their season collapsed in La Liga and the Champions League following lockdown.

They have swapped Arthur for Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic (plus 12m euros) - and brought in £26m Braga forward Francisco Trincao. Ivan Rakitic has left for Sevilla.

Barca have been linked to Lyon forward Memphis Depay but reportedly are not allowed to sign himexternal-link unless they sell Luis Suarez.

Real Madrid are relatively unchanged. They have not made any signings, although Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard is likely to feature after a successful loan spell at Real Sociedad. Otherwise most of their business has been to sell or loan out fringe players. Gareth Bale is likely complete a loan move to Tottenham imminently.

Atletico Madrid have not made any big moves in the transfer market - after last summer's overhaul - while fourth-placed Sevilla have signed Rakitic and Real Madrid youngster Oscar Rodriguez - but key playmaker Ever Banega has left for Saudi Arabia.

What else is new?

Barcelona were one of six La Liga teams to change their manager this season - and one of four to name an ex-Premier League boss.

Former Arsenal manager Unai Emery is at Villarreal, while Real Betis have appointed ex-Manchester City and West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini and Javi Gracia, once of Watford, has rocked up at Valencia.

Valencia are in crisis yet again, with financial difficulties. Captain Dani Parejo (Villarreal), 2018-19 top scorer Rodrigo (Leeds) and star youngster Ferran Torres (Manchester City) have all moved on.

Any other business?

La Liga is also keeping the five substitution rule. There is no return date set for fans being allowed into stadiums.

There will be two Spanish Cup finals this season. The 2019-20 final between Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad was postponed until a time when fans are allowed to attend.

Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo
Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo played 164 games for Juventus between 2011 and 2015

Serie A

When does it start?

The Serie A season starts on Saturday, 19 September. Juventus host Sampdoria the following day.

How are the big teams looking?

Juventus are looking to win an unprecedented (in Europe's top five leagues) 10th consecutive title - but they must try to do so with a rookie manager.

Iconic former Juve midfielder Andrea Pirlo, 41, replaced the sacked Maurizio Sarri this summer for his first managerial job.

Their biggest signing was Arthur from Barcelona, with Pjanic joining the Spanish side. Gonzalo Higuain is set to leave the club, while Blaise Matuidi has already left.

Inter Milan have brought in full-backs Achraf Hakimi and Aleksandar Kolarov, from Real Madrid and Roma respectively, and made several loan deals permanent, including Manchester United flop Alexis Sanchez.

Atalanta, the top scorers in each of the past two Serie A seasons, have brought in Russian midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk and sold Belgian full-back Timothy Castagne to Leicester City.

AC Milan have made tweaks to their squad - including the loan signing of Real Madrid winger Brahim Diaz - but most notably kept Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the club after extending the veteran Swedish striker's deal.

Elsewhere, Napoli signed Lille's Nigeria forward Victor Osimhen for 70m euros (£64m).

What else is new?

There were five managerial changes this summer, including Pirlo at Juventus and former Leyton Orient boss Fabio Liverani taking over at Parma.

Former Roma boss Eusebio di Francesco has taken over at Cagliari.

Spezia, who were an Inter Milan feeder team in the early 2000s, are in Serie A for the first time in their history.

They drew their play-off 1-1 with Frosinone over two legs but were promoted because they finished higher in the league.

Any other business?

There has been no official announcement on how many subs will be allowed in Serie A this season. Limited numbers of fans could be allowed back in by mid-October, according to reports.

PSG forward Neymar
Neymar's Paris St-Germain lost their first two games of the season

Ligue 1

When did it start?

Ligue 1 was the highest ranked European league to not finish last season after coronavirus. As a result they started this season early, on 21 August. The fourth round of games are happening this weekend.

How are the big teams looking?

PSG, who have won six of the last seven Ligue 1 titles, are suffering a major hangover from their Champions League final defeat by Bayern Munich.

They lost their opening two Ligue 1 games without scoring for the first time since 1978-79, although did get their first win of the campaign on Wednesday night thanks to a 90th-minute goal.

They started the season without seven first-team players who had coronavirus and Neymar is halfway through serving a two-match ban after being sent off against Marseille for hitting an opponent who allegedly racially abused him.

Marseille, under Andre Villas-Boas, beat PSG for the first time in 11 years and are hoping to mount a proper title challenge this season.

Lille signed Canada forward Jonathan David for about £27m from Belgian side Gent but lost Osimhen to Napoli and defender Gabriel to Arsenal.

Monaco have hired former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac.

What else is new?

Bordeaux and Nimes also have new managers.

There was uncertainty over how many teams would be in Ligue 1 this season, but Amiens and Toulouse - who were in the relegation zone when Ligue 1 was curtailed - were eventually relegated despite a court ruling that would have left the league with 22 teams.

Any other business?

Ligue 1 is allowing five substitutes this season, while up to 5,000 fans have been allowed into games in the early weeks.

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