Norwich City involved in tightest title battle in Europe

Norwich City manager Alex Neil during the Sky Bet Championship match at Vicarage Road, Watford. Pict

Norwich City manager Alex Neil during the Sky Bet Championship match at Vicarage Road, Watford. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The Championship title race is closer than anything else in European football – and the fact Norwich City are involved is down to a remarkable piece of playing catch-up.

The Championship table when Alex Neil took over, and now.

The Championship table when Alex Neil took over, and now. - Credit: Archant

When Alex Neil took charge of the Canaries in January, it was Bournemouth and Ipswich leading the division – and leading City by 11 and 10 points respectively.

A dozen games later and with 10 remaining, Norwich have made up 10 of those 11 points on the Cherries – who are back on top of the Championship – while a 14-point swing over Ipswich means City's bitter rivals are now playing catch-up themselves.

In fact, Norwich's form since the turn of the year is the best in the division – 28 points from their 12 league games in 2015 – meaning all 23 clubs have lost points and ground on Neil's men.

Watford have made the best attempt at keeping pace, losing just three points on City – with the difference arguably coming thanks to their defeat to Norwich at Vicarage Road last month.

Derby, City's visitors on Saturday, were seven points clear of Norwich but now – like all four teams above the Canaries – have a one-point buffer. Bournemouth's goal difference is the only that can trump Norwich.

No professional division in European football is enjoying a title battle anywhere near as tight as the Championship, where the current top four are separated by either goal difference or goals scored.

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The Turkish Super Lig is closest, with the front-running trio of Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce covered by a single point but some way clear of the remaining 15 clubs.