Fortunes differed for the teams at the top of Europe’s blue riband championships this weekend, with Borussia Dortmund the only leaders to triumph courtesy of their 4-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. AC Milan, Chelsea and Lille were all held to 1-1 draws, and those results brought a change at the summit in both England and France. As for Spain, the action served as a foretaste to Monday’s eagerly anticipated Clásico between Barcelona and Real Madrid (21h CET).
FIFA.com sifts back over the highlights from the recent games across the continent.
Premier League: United hit top gear
Manchester United thrilled their fans with a glut of goals at Old Trafford on Saturday, engineering a 7-1 humbling of Blackburn Rovers that owed much to five strikes from Dimitar Berbatov. The result lifted Sir Alex Ferguson’s side ahead of Chelsea and the Blues were unable to reclaim their lead the following day, being held to a 1-1 draw at Newcastle United. They now trail United by two points and boast the same tally as Arsenal, who ran out 4-2 winners at Aston Villa.
Next in the queue are Manchester City, despite a 1-1 stalemate of their own against Stoke City. Tottenham Hotspur occupy fifth spot after Aaron Lennon’s dramatic late decider sealed a 2-1 triumph over Liverpool.
Top three: Manchester United (31 points), Chelsea, Arsenal (both 29)
Bottom three: Wigan Athletic (14), Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Ham United (both 12)
Top scorers: Dimitar Barbatov (11 goals), Andrew Carroll, Carlos Tevez (both 8)
Weekend stat: 1 – For the first time in the history of the Premier League, all 20 clubs registered at least one goal in the same round of games.
La Liga: Villarreal put pressure on top two
With Barcelona and Real Madrid set to lock horns on Monday, third-placed Villarreal were desperate to close in on the leading duo. The Yellow Submarine did precisely that via a 3-0 success at Real Zaragoza that also kept them two points above fourth-placed Espanyol, who put together a 3-2 victory at Atletico Madrid.
Valencia lie a further point back in fifth thanks to their 2-1 triumph over Almeria, but there was little for Sevilla fans to celebrate when they were beaten 3-1 by Getafe on their own turf. One other notable outcome was sixth-placed Mallorca’s 2-0 besting of Malaga.
Top three: Real Madrid (32 points), Barcelona (31), Villarreal (27)
Bottom three: Malaga (10), Almeria (9), Real Zaragoza (7)
Top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo (14 goals), Lionel Messi (13), Fernando Llorente (9)
Weekend stat: 2 – Espanyol’s win at Atletico Madrid was only their second away victory this term, Mauricio Pochettino’s charges having conversely taken maximum points in all six of their home outings.
Bundesliga: Dortmund still soaring ahead
Surely no one can doubt that Borussia Dortmund have become the team to beat in Germany. Borussia Monchengladbach tested their resolve through Marco Reus’s opener on Saturday, but Jurgen Klopp’s troops came back strongly to end the game 4-1 victors. Second-placed Mainz won too as they downed Nuremberg 3-0, with Leverkusen still third despite their 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim.
Surprise packages Hannover remain hot on the heels of the front three following their 3-0 defeat of Freiburg, and behind them Bayern Munich look to have settled into their rhythm judging by their 4-1 success against Frankfurt. Stuttgart and Schalke continue to toil, in contrast, with the former having succumbed 4-2 to Hamburg, the latter 5-0 against Kaiserslautern, leaving both still labouring away in the lower reaches of the table.
Top three: Dortmund (37 points), Mainz (30), Bayer Leverkusen (26)
Bottom three: Koln (12 points), Stuttgart (11), Monchengladbach (10)
Top scorers: Theofanis Gekas (12 goals), Papiss Demba Cisse (10), Edin Dzeko, Mario Gomez, Srdan Lakic (all 9)
Weekend stat: 18 – Schalke’s 5-0 reverse at the hands of Kaiserslautern was their sternest correction since September 1992, 18 years ago.
Serie A: AC Milan held in check
Robinho was in superb form for AC Milan during their meeting with Sampdoria, yet the Serie A leaders lost some of their recent momentum in a 1-1 draw. It was the Brazilian who put I Rossoneri on the road to victory, only for Giampaolo Pazzini to then level for the hosts and give Lazio a chance to close the gap at the top. The capital outfit failed to grab their opportunity, however, with their match against Catania ending with the same scoreline.
A 1-1 draw was also the outcome between third-placed Juventus and Fiorentina, while Napoli, in fourth, suffered a 3-1 loss to Udinese that featured a hat-trick from Antonio Di Natale. Champions Inter Milan climbed up to fifth, meanwhile, when Dejan Stankovic plundered a treble of his own in a 5-2 victory against Parma that ended their run of four league matches without a win.
Top three: AC Milan (30 points), Lazio (27), Juventus (24)
Bottom three: Cesena, Lecce (both 12), Bari (10)
Top scorers: Samuel Eto’o, Edinson Cavani (both 9 goals), Antonio Di Natale, Alessandro Matri (both 8)
Weekend stat: 4 – Lazio seem to be experiencing a rough patch, having taken just four points in their last four games after an explosive start to the campaign.Ligue 1:
Marseille move into position
Marseille have hardly been at their best since the start of the season but the French champions now find themselves in pole position. Impressing with their speed and fluidity, Didier Deschamps’s men posted a 4-0 win over a Montpellier side that had entered the weekend level on points with previous pacesetters Lille.
For their part, Les Dogues could only manage a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux and trail OM on goal difference having played one game more. Elsewhere, Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain served up an attractive encounter before sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw and Lorient downed Rennes 2-0 in the Brittany derby.
Top three: Marseille, Lille (both 25 points), PSG (24)
Bottom three: Caen, Lens (both 14), Arles-Avignon (6)
Top scorers: Youssef El Arabi, Moussa Sow (both 10 goals), Dimitri Payet, Nene (both 8)
Weekend stat: 5 – For all of five minutes, PSG were all set to go top of the league, only for ten-man Lyon to equalise in the 87th minute.
In Portugal, the meeting between traditional giants Sporting Lisbon and Porto failed to produce a winner in a 1-1 stalemate. That allowed second-placed Benfica to move within eight points of pacesetters Porto, following their 3-1 defeat of Beira Mar.
A trio of teams lead the way in Switzerland after the latest round of action, with all three boasting 29 points after 16 fixtures. Luzern drew 1-1 with Thun, Basel overcame Neuchatel Xamax 2-1 and Zurich saw off St Gallen 3-0.