European leagues review
As the top two in England, France and Spain all won, the leaders going into the weekend in Germany and Italy slipped up. With silverware being seized in Greece and Scotland, FIFA.com reviews the latest developments.
Premier League: Front two make no mistakes
As in all the top leagues except France, the hunt for honours in England has come down to a two-horse race. Chelsea and Manchester United were a point apart going into the weekend, and the gap was maintained after Sir Alex Ferguson's side beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 and Carlo Ancelotti's leaders Chelsea hammered Stoke City 7-0.
Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by sixth-placed Manchester City but still made sure of third place and a Champions League berth. City slipped a spot due to Aston Villa’s 1-0 triumph over arch-rivals Birmingham City. Liverpool beat Burnley 4-0, sending the promoted side down and remaining in the hunt for Europe themselves.
Top three: Chelsea (80 points), Manchester United (79), Arsenal (72)
Bottom three: Hull City (28), Burnley (27), Portsmouth (16)
Leading scorers: Wayne Rooney (26 goals), Didier Drogba (25), Darren Bent (24)
Weekend stat: 1 – After a single season in the top flight, Burnley were relegated from the Premier League at the weekend.
Bundesliga: Schalke pull level with Bayern
Possibly distracted by their Champions League semi-final second leg away to Lyon, Bayern dropped points in the Bundesliga. The league leaders were held 1-1 away to Borussia Monchengladbach and now top the standings on goal difference alone from Schalke, who struck late to win 1-0 at Hertha Berlin.
In the chase for places in Europe, the teams from third to sixth all won. Werder Bremen edged out Cologne 1-0 in stoppage time, Bayer Leverkusen beat Hannover 3-0, Borussia Dortmund won 3-2 away to Nuremberg, and Stuttgart saw off Bochum 2-0. By contrast, UEFA Europa League semi-finalists Hamburg crashed 5-1 to mid-table Hoffenheim and are unlikely to play continental football next term.
Top three: Bayern, Schalke (both 64 points), Bremen (57)
Bottom three: Bochum (28), Hannover (27), Hertha Berlin (23)
Leading scorers: Stefan Kiessling (21 goals), Edin Dzeko (20), Lucas Barrios, Kevin Kuranyi (both 18)
Weekend stat: 6 – Hamburg’s 5-1 drubbing was their heaviest defeat for almost six years.
La Liga: Grim struggle continues
There was no change at the top as Barcelona beat Xerez 3-1 and Real Madrid won 2-1 away to Zaragoza. With four rounds remaining, the perennial rivals are separated by just a point.
Third-placed Valencia stayed on course for the Champions League with a 1-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, helped by Mallorca’s 1-1 home draw with struggling Malaga. Sevilla lost 4-3 away to Getafe, spurning the chance to dislodge Mallorca from fourth. Villarreal beat Santander 2-1 and may yet have a say in the destination of the Champions League qualifying spot.
Top three: Barcelona (87 points), Real Madrid (86), Valencia (62)
Bottom three: Tenerife, Valladolid (both 32), Xerez (27)
Leading scorers: Lionel Messi (27 goals), Gonzalo Higuain (25), David Villa (21)
Weekend stat: 7 – After coming on as a substitute, Real Madrid superstar Kaka needed just seven minutes to net his side’s winner, completing a stunning return from a six-week groin-related lay-off.
Serie A: Glee for Inter as Roma choke
Champions Inter Milan disposed of relegation fodder Atalanta 3-1, and ended the weekend back in the first place they lost three weeks ago. I Nerazzurri profited from Roma’s calamitous home defeat by fourth-placed Sampdoria, for whom Giampaolo Pazzini struck a second-half brace to seal a 2-1 win.
Third-placed AC Milan’s flickering title hopes were finally extinguished in a 3-1 defeat by fifth-placed Palermo. Juventus beat Bari 3-0 and overtook Napoli, who were held to a goalless draw by Cagliari. Juve thus kept alive their hopes of a shot at the Champions League next term. Livorno are definitely down, and Siena are all but mathematically certain to join them after a 4-1 defeat to Udinese. The men from Tuscany are nine points adrift of safety with just three games left.
Top three: Inter Milan (73 points), Roma (71), AC Milan (64)
Bottom three: Atalanta (34), Siena (30), Livorno (29)
Leading scorers: Antonio di Natale (25 goals), Diego Milito (20), Fabrizio Miccoli, Giampaolo Pazzini (both 17)
Weekend stat: 7 – Despite a 3-1 defeat of Catania, their seventh win of the season, bottom club Livorno were relegated to Serie B.
Ligue 1: Marseille keep rivals at bay
Marseille boast a comfortable five-point advantage over their pursuers, taking a giant stride towards the title with a 1-0 win against lowly Saint-Etienne.
With four rounds still to play, the only potential danger to OM comes from Auxerre, who kept up the chase with a 3-0 win away to Toulouse. Lille beat Le Mans 2-1 and Montpellier drew 0-0 with Nancy, but the erstwhile title contenders are now ten and 11 points respectively off the leaders. Champions Bordeaux are in grave danger of missing out on Europe altogether after slumping to a tenth defeat of the season, a 1-0 reverse away to Lorient.
Top three: Marseille (71 points), Auxerre (66), Lille (61)
Bottom three: Le Mans (28), Boulogne-sur-Mer (27), Grenoble (16)
Leading scorers: Kevin Gameiro, Mamadou Niang (both 15 goals), Nene (14)
Weekend stat: 12 – OM’s charge to the title looks unstoppable: they are unbeaten in their last 12 league games, and have won ten of them.
In Greece, Panathinaikos added the cup to the league title they wrapped up last weekend. The men from Athens beat Aris Saloniki 1-0 to seal cup glory for the 17th time, and also complete an eighth domestic double.
Glasgow giants Rangers became champions of Scotland for the 53rd time, comfortably retaining the trophy they won last season. A 1-0 success against Hibernian meant Rangers coasted to the title with three games to spare.
In Portugal, the inevitable was delayed for another week at least, as Benfica trounced Olhanense 5-0 and Sporting Braga beat Naval de Maio 4-0. With two games left, the famous Lisbon outfit are six points clear and require just a point to be mathematically certain of the crown.