The women's league programme in Europe was decimated by some extreme winter weather over the last few weeks, but as the temperatures begin to rise and the first hint of spring appears on the horizon, a number of teams across the continent returned to action at the weekend. In Switzerland, the national league resumed activity with a top of the table clash, while over the Alps in Italy, the leading pack consolidated their positions. In the Spanish Primera Division Femenina, Barcelona opened a small gap at the top.
In our regular feature, FIFA.com reviews the latest developments in women's league football around the world, with the focus this week on Europe.
Switzerland: Zurich still the team to beat
The National League A restarted after the winter break with a top of the table clash, as leaders FC Zurich entertained second place SC Kriens. Watched by new Switzerland coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, FCZ chalked up a narrow 1-0 victory, with Barbara Beutler converting Noelle Maritz’ 24th-minute corner to score the only goal of the game.
The table-toppers achieved the vital victory without star striker Inka Grings. The Germany international, who took the unusual step of leaving her home country together with Duisburg team-mate Sonja Fuss and moving south to Switzerland last September, is currently sidelined with Achilles problems and missed Germany's UEFA Women's EURO qualifier against Turkey. In the Swiss league, with three regular season games to go until the championship play-offs, Zurich lead the table by a commanding ten points.
Top three: FC Zurich (43 points), SC Kriens (33), FC Basel (25)
Spain: Barcelona edge clear
In the battle to be named the inaugural champions of the revamped Spanish league, Barcelona are well and truly back in business. The team coached by Xavi Llorens Rodriguez suffered a rare defeat last time out, but bounced back in the 21st round of matches with a 3-2 victory over Levante. With second placed Athletic Bilbao held to a goalless draw by Atletico Madrid, Barcelona opened a small gap at the top of the standings and now hold a two-point advantage. Espanyol missed the chance to make up ground on the top two, suffering their second defeat of the season in a 2-1 reverse away to Sociedad. In the next round of fixtures, the team coached by Luis Carrion Delgado can make up for the missed opportunity when they take on Bilbao.
Top three: Barcelona (58), Athletic Bilbao (56), Espanyol (51)
Italy: Bardolino hold off chasing pack
The weather put paid to three of the scheduled matches in the previous round of fixtures, but conditions improved sufficiently for all the teams to play as planned over the weekend. Verona-based Bardolino underlined their title ambitions in impressive style, as coach Renato Longega’s side ran up an ultimately comfortable 3-1 victory away to Chiasiellis to make it 12 wins for the season. However, Bardolino are far from home and dry yet, as the chasing pack also cruised to victory. Brescia Femminile defeated Florence 3-0, Tavagnacco beat Mozzanica 5-1, and Sassari Torres overcame Turin 3-0, ensuring the race for the title remains too close to call. It was a different story at the wrong end of the table, as Roma CF again failed to register a first victory of the season and remain bottom on a meagre three points, trailing ACF Milan on six points, although the team from the capital have two games in hand.
Top three: Bardolino Verona (37), ACF Brescia (35), UPC Tavagnacco (34)