Leaders jockey for position
Fans of European football had plenty to keep them entertained on a hectic weekend. Bayer Leverkusen kicked off the action on Friday evening, when they downed Bundesliga leaders Hoffenheim, who were duly replaced by Hertha Berlin. In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain climbed into second place as Bordeaux dropped out of the top three, while Real Madrid closed to within ten points of Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Then, in Sunday evening's big match, Inter Milan claimed a vital derby win over AC Milan. FIFA.com reflects on the latest league action, and also rounds up the news from the English FA Cup.
La Liga: Real Madrid close the gap
Real Madrid turned in a convincing performance at Sporting Gijon on Sunday to record their eighth consecutive La Liga victory. Led by an inspired Raul, who became the club's record league scorer when he notched the 308th and 309th goals of his career, Los Merengues cantered to a 4-0 win to cut the gap on leaders Barcelona down to ten points.
Barça were grateful for a point from their visit to Real Betis the day before. Trailing 2-0 after 25 minutes and struggling to find their usual rhythm, they were indebted, once more, to the finishing of Samuel Eto'o, who led from the front with two more goals. Sevilla, for their part, beat Espanyol 2-0 to move into third place, and they now stand three points clear of Valencia and Villarreal.
Top three: Barcelona (60 pts), Real Madrid (50), Sevilla (41)
Bottom three: Real Mallorca (21), Numancia (20), Espanyol (18)
Top scorers: Samuel Eto'o (23 goals), David Villa (18), Lionel Messi (16)
Weekend stat: 3 - Samuel Eto'o is the third player in Barcelona history to score 100 league goals.
Serie A: Inter pull away
Inter Milan took a significant step towards another scudetto on Sunday, when they beat AC Milan 2-1 in their latest derby meeting. Adriano and Dejan Stankovic were the men on target for I Nerazzurri, with Maicon and Zlatan Ibrahimovic the respective suppliers.
Juventus hit the woodwork three times as their title hopes receded further in an entertaining 1-1 draw at home to Sampdoria. There were even more fireworks at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, where Genoa and Fiorentina played out a 3-3 draw. Elsewhere, Roma collapsed to a 3-0 defeat away to Atalanta.
Top three: Inter Milan (56 pts), Juventus (47), AC Milan (45)
Bottom three: Torino, Chievo (20), Reggina (17)
Top scorers: Marco di Vaio (16 goals), Diego Milito (15), Alberto Gilardino, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (14)
Weekend stat: 56 - The number of Milan derbies Paolo Maldini has appeared in.
Bundesliga: Hertha go top
The big game on Matchday 20 pitted Hertha Berlin against Bayern Munich, and it was the former who ran out out 2-1 winners. With Jaroslav Drobny standing tall between the posts, two goals from Andrej Voronin proved enough for the Alten Damen as the reigning champions endured further frustration in their bid to retain the title.
Leaders going into their home game with Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim badly missed the injured Vedad Ibisevic and Marvin Compper as they fell to a 4-1 defeat. Two of the visitors' goals came from Patrick Helmes. Meanwhile, Hamburg climbed to third after beating Arminia Bielefeld 2-0 on Sunday.
Top three: Hertha Berlin (40 pts), Hoffenheim, Hamburg (39)
Bottom three: Energie Cottbus, Karlsruhe SC (17), Borussia Mönchengladbach (13)
Top scorers: Vedad Ibisevic (18 goals), Patrick Helmes (15), Artur Wichniarek, Grafite, Milivoje Novakovic (12)
Weekend stat: 300 - Bayern Munich's reverse at Hertha Berlin was their 300th defeat in the Bundesliga.
Ligue 1: PSG leapfrog Bordeaux
Paris Saint-Germain enhanced their championship credentials with a 2-1 defeat of Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes, the Parisians' goals coming from Mamadou Sakho and Jeremy Clement before half-time. Despite taking the lead through Marouane Chamakh, Bordeaux showed more worrying signs of inconsistency as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Grenoble at the Stade Jacques-Chaban-Delmas. Sixth-placed Rennes endured similar frustration in a 1-1 draw at home to Nancy, while Auxerre put paid to Lille's nine-game unbeaten run with a 2-0 win.
Frontrunners Lyon were in imperious form on Sunday, when they overpowered Le Havre 3-1, and Toulouse and Marseille both secured three useful points, seeing off Sochaux and Monaco respectively.
Top three: Lyon (49 pts), Paris Saint-Germain (45), Marseille (44)
Bottom three: Valenciennes (21), Sochaux (20), Le Havre (15)
Top scorers: Andre-Pierre Gignac (15 goals), Guillaume Hoarau (13), Fernando Cavenaghi (12)
Weekend stat: 9 - Nine of PSG's 11 wins this season have been by a single goal.
In the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven fought back from a two-goal deficit to share the points with leaders AZ Alkmaar. Twente moved to within nine points of the top after downing Volendam 2-1, with Ajax, 2-0 winners over Feyenoord, a further three points behind.
In Scotland, the latest Old Firm derby ended in a goalless draw, a result that kept pacesetters Celtic two points clear of Rangers.
FA Cup takes centre stage
The Premier League's big guns had no difficulty in advancing to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. A Nicolas Anelka hat-trick eased Chelsea to a 3-1 defeat of Watford on Saturday, while Manchester United ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over Derby County. Meantime, Everton surged into the last eight with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Aston Villa.