The penultimate round of action in France and Spain prior to the mid-season interval saw some significant jostling in the upper reaches of the ladder, although leaders Lyon and Athletic Bilbao maintained a hold on top spot. Meanwhile, in rather warmer conditions Down Under, the league seasons in Australia and New Zealand are heading towards their respective denouements with some familiar names battling for honours. FIFA.com reviews all the action from the past week.
France: Goal-hungry Lyon continue to feast
Lyon maintained their irrepressible form prior to the mid-season break, while second-placed Paris Saint Germain claimed an important win over perennial title challengers Juvisy. It is, however, Lyon who continue to claim the headlines with an eleventh straight win to maintain a perfect record in the league. This time the European champions overpowered Issy 8-0, with Camille Abily and Lotta Schelin each scoring twice. PSG maintained their pursuit of the runaway leaders thanks to a 2-1 win over cross-city rivals Juvisy, with in-form German attacker Linda Bresonik grabbing the winner in the dying stages. Third-placed Montpellier stumbled at home, held 1-1 by mid-table Guingamp.
Top three: (Lyon 44 points), Paris Saint Germain (37), Montpellier (34)
Australia: Champs bounce back
Reigning champions Canberra United put their title ambitions back on track after consecutive wins over the past week to create a log-jam at the summit. The team from the nation’s capital edged a hard-fought one-goal win over Perth Glory in midweek, and then repeated the feat against Newcastle Jets. Victory over frontrunners Perth came on the back of a second-half winner from former USA youth international Nikki Washington, as United secured three crucial points following consecutive defeats. Canberra now sit equal second alongside Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar, with Perth two points clear. The Glory, who have never secured a finals berth in the five-year history of the league, seemed set to extend their lead at the summit only for the Roar to claim a 2-2 draw thanks to Katrina Gorry’s late equaliser.
Top three: Perth Glory (16), Sydney FC, Canberra United, Brisbane Roar (all 14)
Spain: Tight tussle continues
An intriguing title race continues to play out in Spain with champions Barcelona dropping to third after playing out a scoreless draw at home against Athletic Bilbao in a top-of-the-table clash. The pair were runaway contenders for last season’s crown, but the 2012/13 campaign is proving to be a very different scenario at the midway point of the season. Bilbao maintained their hold on top spot, but Atletico Madrid pushed three points clear of Barcelona into clear second with a dominant 5-1 win over struggling Llanos Olivenza. Atletico, who are the league’s only unbeaten side, cruised to victory with the help of a double from Spain forward Adriana Martin. With a trip to winless Lagunak scheduled for next weekend, Bilbao seem set to take their lead at the top into the four-week mid-season break.
Top three: Athletic Bilbao (38), Atletico Madrid (35), Barcelona (33)
New Zealand: And then there were two...
Defending champions Northern will put their title on the line against cross town rivals Auckland in next weekend’s final. Auckland, eyeing their first crown since 2009, needed extra time to claim a 2-1 victory over Mainland, who were toppled at the semi-final stage for the second consecutive year. Northern had a marginally easier task at home defeating Capital, with a brace from Hannah Hoeksema separating the two sides. Holding down a higher position at the end of the regular season Northern, who secured a win and a draw against their rivals during the season, will host the final.