European Leagues review
It was a mixed bag for the leaders in Europe’s five big leagues this weekend. Inter Milan and Chelsea both went down to defeats, while Bayer Leverkusen could only draw. Bordeaux and Barcelona fared much better, registering important wins to underline their excellent recent form.
FIFA.com rounds up these stories and more on another incident-packed couple of days in the continent’s major championships.
Premier League: Chelsea get the blues
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been in irresistible form of late, not least when they swept championship challengers Arsenal aside last weekend, which made Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at Manchester City all the more surprising. The Londoners even took the lead thanks to an Emmanuel Adebayor own goal only for the Togolese striker to redeem himself with the equaliser and Carlos Tevez to hit the winner as City climbed up to sixth.
Manchester United won 4-0 at West Ham to slice the gap on Chelsea to two points and Arsenal picked themselves up to dispose of Stoke City 2-0 at home. Tottenham missed the chance to reclaim third after they allowed Everton to stage a late comeback and force a 2-2 draw.
Top three: Chelsea (36 pts), Manchester United (34), Arsenal (28)
Bottom three: Hull City (13), Bolton Wanderers (12), Portsmouth (10)
Leading scorers: Jermain Defoe (12 goals), Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney (11), Fernando Torres (10)
Weekend stat: 3 - A run of three straight wins, two of them away from home, has helped Birmingham City move up from 18th to 9th.
La Liga: No change at the top
Barcelona and Real Madrid continued their private duel at the summit in Spain. Los Blaugranas coasted to their third league win of the week when they saw off Deportivo La Coruna 3-1, while the chasing Blancos made hard work of dispatching Almeria. After going 1-0 up and then 2-1 down, Madrid surged back in the final 20 minutes to run out 4-2 winners. Cristiano Ronaldo took some gloss off their day however by collecting two yellow cards late on.
Atletico Madrid continued their mini-revival at the other end of the table with a 2-0 triumph at Jerez, and Racing Santander also pocketed three much-needed points when they romped to an unlikely 4-0 victory at Espanyol.
Top three: Barcelona (33 pts), Real Madrid (31), Valencia (28)
Bottom three: Racing Santander (10), Malaga (8), Jerez (7)
Leading scorers: David Villa (11 goals), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10), Lionel Messi (9)
Weekend stat: 5 - Valencia won 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao to make it five wins in their last five games on the road, a purple patch that has taken them up to third.
Serie A: Juve back in the hunt
There is little love lost between Derby d’Italia rivals Juventus and Inter Milan. Just to prove the point the two sides staged a stormy encounter in Turin on Saturday, with eight yellow cards being issued and two reds (one of them for Nerazzurri coach Jose Mourinho). Not surprisingly, the showdown produced little in the way of good football, though Juve’s 2-1 win, secured by Claudio Marchisio’s superb strike, breathes new life into the scudetto race. I Bianconeri are now only five points behind their avowed adversaries.
Inter’s loss was also AC Milan’s gain as they continued their renaissance with a comprehensive 3-0 home defeat of Sampdoria. Finally, in the second big derby of the weekend Roma edged out Lazio 1-0 in a disappointing encounter.
Top three: Inter Milan (35 pts), AC Milan (31), Juventus (30)
Bottom three: Livorno (12), Catania (9), Siena (9)
Leading scorers: Antonio Di Natale (11 goals), Francesco Totti and Diego Milito (9), Giampaolo Pazzini (8)
Weekend stat: 57 - It proved to be a tempestuous weekend in Serie A as a grand total of 57 yellow cards and six red cards were dished out, the highest tallies so far this season.
Bundesliga: Leverkusen stay clear of the pack
Bayer Leverkusen kept their unbeaten record intact as Hannover held them to a goalless draw to join the select band of clubs who have avoided defeat against the leaders. Bayer’s seventh stalemate of the campaign was music to the ears of the chasing Schalke 04 and Bayern Munich, who earned respective wins over Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach to move to within three and four points of the top. Werder Bremen stayed second, also three points off the pace, after grinding out a 0-0 draw at Cologne.
Stuttgart’s woes continued as they shared the points at home to fellow strugglers Bochum to remain in the bottom three, a state of affairs that led to coach Markus Babbel being sacked after the game.
Top three: Bayer Leverkusen (31 pts), Werder Bremen (28), Schalke 04 (28)
Bottom three: VfB Stuttgart (12), Nuremberg (12), Hertha Berlin (5)
Leading scorers: Stefan Kiessling (12 goals), Kevin Kuranyi (7), Mario Gomez, Lucas Barrios, Albert Bunjaku, Andreas Ivanschitz, Vedad Ibisevic, Edin Dzeko, Zvjedzan Misimovic, Claudio Pizarro and Mesut Ozil, (6)
Weekend stat: 14 - Winners on the opening day of the season, Hertha Berlin have not tasted victory in 14 matches since.
Ligue 1: Bordeaux lay down a marker
Seven days after returning to the top of the pile in France, Laurent Blanc’s men opened up some daylight between them and the rest of the field when they prevailed 1-0 at home Paris St Germain. Although the returning Yoann Gourcuff excelled in a defensive-midfield role, the title holders were not at their best. They were still too good for the Parisians, however, who slip to ninth.
Bordeaux lie four points clear of surprise packages Montpellier, who have a game in hand, and five of Valenciennes. Marseille returned to winning ways with a handsome 3-1 win at Nice, while Lyon’s shaky form continued as they contrived to throw away a 3-1 half-time lead at Lille and lose out in a seven-goal thriller. Les Gones have now gone four games without a win.
Top three: Bordeaux (31 pts), Montpellier (27), Valenciennes (26)
Bottom three: Boulogne (12), Le Mans (9), Grenoble (6)
Leading scorers: Nene (10 goals), Gyan Asamoah and Lisandro Lopez (8), Pierre-Alain Frau, Youssef Hadji, Kevin Gameiro, Mamadou Niang, Loic Remy and Gervinho (7)
Weekend stat: 15 - Grenoble raised their hopes of avoiding the drop by recording their first win of the season at the 15th attempt.
Beaten 1-0 at AEL Limassol, Omonia Nicosia relinquished top spot in Cyprus to neighbours APOEL, who drew 1-1 draw against Apollon Limassol. After 12 games the title race promises to be a close one, with only three points separating the top five.
In the Netherlands PSV Eindhoven won 2-0 at RKC Waalwijk to keep the pressure on FC Twente, who stayed out front thanks to a thrilling 4-3 win over NEC Nijmegen.