Although many people around the world paused to celebrate Easter last weekend, for women's football it was business as usual across the globe. And while the hunt was for points rather than eggs last week, there were no major Easter surprises in the top women’s leagues, as FIFA.com reveals in its latest weekly review.
Germany: Bayern not handing out gifts
Even Easter was not reason enough for the defending champions to show their rivals any generosity, as the Munich side recorded a resounding 3-0 win over Freiburg to extend their unbeaten league run to 40 matches. Coach Thomas Worle’s team need just four points from their final five games to reclaim their championship crown. Meanwhile, Frankfurt and Wolfsburg are locked in a fierce battle for the runners-up spot. While the team from Hesse defeated Werder Bremen 3-0, the She-Wolves fought back from a 2-1 deficit to beat Sand 4-2 away from home. Promoted side Koln’s 2-0 loss to fellow relegation contenders Bayer Leverkusen leaves them 12 points adrift of safety and means they must begin to contemplate the prospect of another campaign in the second tier.
Top three: Bayern Munich (47 points), VfL Wolfsburg (35), 1. FFC Frankfurt (34)
Spain: Leading trio still moving in step
None of the three strongest sides on the Iberian Peninsula have yet managed to steal a march on their rivals. League leaders Athletic Bilbao scored three first-half goals to defeat Huelva 3-0, while Barcelona recorded an equally routine 4-0 home victory over Rayo Vallecano to remain one point behind Bilbao. They are joined on 53 points by Atletico Madrid, who beat Santa Teresa 4-2 after falling behind twice. Oviedo Moderno still have plenty of ground to make up at the bottom of the table despite snatching a valuable point in a 2-2 draw with Espanyol, while fellow relegation candidates Collerense lost 3-2 to Tenerife Sur.
Top three: Athletic Bilbao (54), Barcelona (53), Atletico Madrid (53)
Japan: Title holders suffer early setback
Defending champions NTV Beleza made a faltering start to the new Nadeshiko League season on Easter Saturday, falling behind to Urawa Red Diamonds in the sixth minute before equalising to eventually take a point. Elsewhere, INAC Kobe Leonessa’s 3-1 win over Sperenza Osaka makes them the first league leaders of the 2016 campaign. Last season’s third-place finishers made a frenetic start to their opening match, taking a commanding 3-0 lead within just 23 minutes.
Top three: INAC Kobe Leonessa (3), Vegalta Sendai (3), Albirex Niigata Ladies (1)
France: Juvisy win the weekend’s biggest game
The title race remains as thrilling as ever in the host nation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019. Although pacesetters Lyon sent a clear message to their rivals in the French capital by thrashing ASPTT Albi 6-0, with Norway’s Ada Hegerberg scoring a hat-trick, Paris Saint-Germain kept their cool to defeat bottom-of-the-table VGA Saint-Maur 3-1. Meanwhile Juvisy beat Montpellier 3-1 in the weekend’s most exciting fixture to move ahead of their opponents into third place. While La Roche-sur-Yon secured a 4-2 triumph at Nimes to move further ahead of their closest competitors in the relegation places, they remain six points adrift of safety after ninth-placed Guingamp beat Saint-Etienne 3-1.
Top three: Lyon (68), Paris Saint-Germain (65), Juvisy (59)
UEFA Women’s Champions League: Favourites win as several ties hang in the balance
The first legs of the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finals took place last week, with two-time winners Wolfsburg and Lyon sticking to the script by beating Brescia and Slavia Prague 3-0 and 9-1 respectively. Elsewhere, Frankfurt recorded a vital 1-0 away victory against record Swedish champions Rosengard thanks to a strike from Dzsenifer Marozsan, while Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain played out a goalless draw in Spain to ensure that these two ties remain delicately poised ahead of this week’s second-leg encounters.