The five-point European review
Real Madrid maintained their healthy lead in Spain, while the title races in Europe's other top leagues remain hotly contested. It was a good weekend for AC Milan, but there was a change at the top in England and Borussia Dortmund conceded ground in Germany. Ligue 1 is turning into a neck-and-neck dash for the line between the clubs from Paris and Montpellier. FIFA.com rounds up the latest events.
Lyon-Lille, Matchday 27 in Ligue 1
It has been a tough time of late for former serial champions Lyon, with a five-game winless streak in Ligue 1 and the disappointment of a UEFA Champions League exit to minnows APOEL Nicosia. However, Les Gones set out on the road to recovery with a 2-1 victory over last term's double winners Lille. Lyon now lie seventh, four points off their weekend opponents, who occupy the Champions League qualifying spot in third.
Alexandre Lacazette and Lisandro Lopez handed the home side a two-goal lead, and although Aurelien Chedjou pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, Lyon protected their lead through to the final whistle.
The weekend brought relief for 2010 FIFA Club World Cup winners Inter Milan, who ended a dismal run of nine matches without a win in all competitions with a 2-0 success away to Chievo Verona. The result, interrupting a sequence of seven defeats and two draws, means the worst streak in the Milan club’s history remains an 11-game winless run in February and March 2004.
For the first time in 21 matches, England's most successful club Manchester United moved back to the top of the Premier League standings courtesy of a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion. The Red Devils made the most of a shock 1-0 defeat for Manchester City away to Swansea, and now lead their local rivals by a single point.
It was a good weekend for Didier Drogba and his Chelsea team-mates. The Cote d'Ivoire hitman scored his 100th Premier League goal to earn his side a 1-0 victory over Stoke, keeping the Blues in touch with the Champions League qualifying places and signalling a winning start to the post-Andre Villas-Boas era.
Fact in football sometimes outdoes fiction, as in the case of Mohamed Zidan. The Egypt striker, who returned to former club Mainz from Borussia Dortmund in the January transfer window, scored for the sixth game in a row at the weekend. Zidan has now hit the target for Mainz in all their matches this calendar year.
When Andres Iniesta features in the starting line-up, it seems Barcelona cannot lose. The weekend 2-0 victory over Santander was the 49th league match in a row in which the Catalans have remained undefeated with the Spain midfield star in the side (41 wins, eight draws). The last occasion when this was not the case was a 2-0 defeat to Hercules in September 2010. Iniesta is now just one game short of levelling a revered record in Spain, as the legendary Emilio Butragueno went 50 games undefeated with Real Madrid in the 1980s.
900 - Germany's most successful club Bayern Munich recorded the 900th Bundesliga victory in their history at the weekend. It was spectacular stuff too, as Jupp Heynckes’ side thrashed Hoffenheim 7-1. Mario Gomez fired a hat-trick, Arjen Robben scored a brace, and Franck Ribery and Toni Kroos also chipped in with goals. It was a miserable afternoon for Hoffenheim, who even failed to score their consolation effort, as Luiz Gustavo put through his own goal at the end.
100 - Jose Mourinho’s 100th game in charge of Real Madrid ended in a 3-2 victory over Real Betis. The Portuguese boss, who is in his second season with the Spanish league leaders, boasts an impressive record of 77 wins, 13 draws and only ten defeats in his spell at the helm. Real maintained their ten-point lead over Barcelona in the standings.
55 - A mere 55 seconds had been played in the Bundesliga meeting between Mainz and Nuremberg before the ball found its way into the net, Nicolai Muller opening the scoring for the home side with the fastest goal of the 2011/12 German top flight. Mainz went on to win 2-1.
19 - Borussia Dortmund made it 19 Bundesliga matches without defeat on Saturday evening, equalling the club record from 1991/92. However, the goalless draw away to promoted Augsburg was a dour affair, and also allowed second-placed Bayern to claw back ground and cut the gap at the top to five points.
Five memorable moments
Premature celebrations: A wave of euphoria swept Marseille following a 1-0 victory over Inter in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg on February 22, but two and a half weeks later, the mood at the club is a lot less jubilant: since beating I Nerazzurri, Marseille have lost four on the bounce in Ligue 1. OM were beaten away to Ajaccio on Friday, the only goal arriving with just a minute to play.
Off, off and away: Mirroring the two-horse race between Madrid and Barcelona in Spain, Paris St Germain (58 points) and Montpellier (57) have left the pack trailing in their wake in France. The men from the capital beat Dijon 2-1 and the south coast side triumphed 3-0 against Caen at the weekend. Leaders PSG are now 11 points clear of Lille in third.
Much-celebrated shutout: Blackburn Rovers’ 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers meant not only a welcome three points for the Premier League strugglers, but was also their first clean sheet of the season. Rovers last managed a match without conceding a goal in late April last year.
It never rains, but it pours: For the first time in almost three-and-a-half years, Tottenham Hotspur have been beaten three times on the bounce. Harry Redknapp's side fell to the only goal of the game against Everton at the weekend to seal the club's worst run since October 2008. Back then, the team’s loss of form cost coach Juande Ramos his job.
The pleasure has been brief: Davide Ballardini had only been in charge at Cagliari for four months, but a spectacular 6-3 defeat to Napoli saw the coach dismissed at the weekend. The 48-year-old is the 15th Serie A coach to be shown the door this season alone.