The five-point European review
The weekend saw the champions crowned in the first of Europe's five major leagues as Borussia Dortmund successfully retained the German title, once again beating off the challenge from the nation's most successful club, Bayern Munich. In Spain, Real Madrid’s momentous victory away to Barcelona means Jose Mourinho’s men have one hand on the La Liga trophy.
In England, Manchester United dropped points in an eight-goal thriller against Everton but bitter rivals City won, setting up a cataclysmic showdown between the Premier League's top two a week on Monday. Italian leaders Juventus increased their advantage over AC Milan, and it remains too tight to call in France.
FIFA.com examines five interesting aspects of the weekend action in Europe’s major leagues.
Manchester United-Everton, Matchday 35 in the Premier League
The 75,000 fans at Old Trafford were treated to footballing fireworks when the Red Devils entertained Everton. Nikica Jelavic fired the visitors in front on the half-hour, but Wayne Rooney levelled four minutes from half-time. The second period was a thrilling rollercoaster, as Danny Welbeck (57) and Nani (60) initially handed United a 3-1 lead, but Marouane Fellani pulled a goal back midway through the half. Rooney seemed to have settled it with his side's fourth after 69 minutes, but Sir Alex Ferguson's men had patently not reckoned on the fighting spirit shown by David Moyes’ troops, as Jelavic made it 4-3 on 83 minutes, before Steven Pienaar netted the equaliser five minutes from time.
It was a record-breaking afternoon for the Toffees, who became the first team in 41 years to score four goals away to United but fail to win. Liverpool triumphed 4-1 at Old Trafford in 2009 and Manchester City won 6-1 on their rivals’ turf earlier this season, but Everton are now only the third team to score four or more goals in a Premier League fixture at the self-styled Theatre of Dreams.
Borussia Dortmund are champions of Germany for the second time in a row. In a carbon copy of last season, Juergen Klopp’s men clinched the title with two games to spare. “If there's ever been champions who deserved it, it's us," declared the jubilant coach following a 2-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach. "I can't put into words what my lads have pulled off here. It's been an extraordinary season, just like the character in my team. What we're achieving is just incredible." The men in yellow and black hold an eight-point advantage over Bayern, who will now finish second.
In Spain, Real Madrid took a giant stride towards recovering the league crown for the first time in four years, as boss Jose Mourinho finally coached a side to victory at the Camp Nou at the 11th time of asking. In the 251st Clasico, Cristiano Ronaldo struck the winner, leaving the men from the capital seven points clear with four games to go. Sami Khedira opened for Madrid after 17 minutes, but Barça sub Alexis Sanchez bundled home an equaliser after 71 minutes, before Mezut Ozil released Ronaldo to wrap up the points just two minutes later. Real now turn their focus to the UEFA Champions League, where they start the semi-final second leg at home to Bayern 2-1 in arrears from the first meeting.
Jussie Ferreira Vieira, or Jussie for short, is a fast starter to say the least. The Bordeaux midfielder scored after just 29 seconds of a 2-0 victory over Toulouse in early February, but beat even that at the weekend in a 2-1 triumph against Olympique Marseille. The Brazilian opened the scoring 27 seconds into the match and completed his brace 28 minutes later. Bordeaux have now scored three times in the opening minute this season.
Courtesy of his 25th goal of the campaign in the meeting with Sporting Lokeren, Mons striker Jeremy Perbet levelled the record for the most goals by a French player in a Belgian top-flight season. Perbet follows in the footsteps of Jean-Pierre Papin, who scored 25 for Bruges in 1985/86. “Matching the record of a player like Papin is just fantastic," the 27-year-old declared. The two have in fact crossed paths before, as Papin was Perbet’s coach at Racing Strasbourg in 2006.
Arturo Vidal celebrated his first double strike in Serie A in a 4-0 victory for leaders Juventus against Roma. The Chilean opened for the home team after just four minutes, before doubling his tally another four minutes in, taking the former Leverkusen man to six goals this term. The Turin side coasted to victory and also opened a three-point gap at the top, due to AC Milan's unexpected 1-1 draw with Bologna.
99,500 - The crowd at Camp Nou for the showdown between Barcelona and Real Madrid, comfortably the best-attended match on the continent this weekend.
22 - For the first time since 22 October last year, Kaiserslautern finished on the winning side. The German Red Devils had failed to win for 22 matches but beat Hertha Berlin 2-1 away from home on Saturday. It was a pyrrhic victory, however, as results elsewhere mean Kaiserslautern will play second division football next season.
11 - After rattling in the goals in Germany, Papiss Demba Cisse has maintained his prolific form in England. The Senegal hitman is now up to 11 goals in just ten matches for his new club Newcastle United, equalling a 20-year-old record set by Micky Quinn, who also scored 11 in ten for Coventry City in 1992. Cisse contributed a goal to the Magpies’ 3-0 victory over Stoke on Saturday, as Newcastle maintained their push for a Champions League spot.
2.7 - At 2.7 points per home fixture, French leaders Montpellier are level with Barcelona as the second-best home team in Europe. The impressive haul is bettered only by Manchester City, who have taken an average 2.88 points per game in front of their home faithful.
Five memorable moments
Bathed in beer: Borussia Dortmund's Kevin Grosskreutz broke his nose in training during the week, but that was never going to stop the colourful local boy from celebrating the Bundesliga title with his team-mates. During the wild post-match celebrations, with the customary showers of beer from oversized glasses for all the victors, the midfielder took another blow to his nose. Not that he was bothered: “My nose is smashed to pieces now, but I don't care. I don't feel any pain any more."
Derby triumph: In Russia, Dynamo Moscow closed in on a Champions League spot and also ran up a morale-boosting win, as the club in second beat neighbours CSKA 1-0. Bosnian schemer Zvjezdan Misimovic scored the only goal.
Happy reunion: Rudi Garcia coached Dijon from 2002 until 2007 and was a major influence in helping the provincial club to new levels of professionalism. On Saturday, he returned for the first time as Lille boss and was afforded a warm and friendly welcome, as the home fans said thank you with banners and songs. The local hero was in no mood to hand out gifts though, as title-chasing Lille won 2-0
Achieving the impossible: At the halfway point in the season, Freiburg had amassed only 13 points and were bottom of the Bundesliga, five points adrift of safety. On Sunday evening, they secured top-flight football next season with a goalless draw away to Hanover. Freiburg are the fifth best team of the second half of the campaign in Germany, as boss Christian Streich has guided his team to 24 points since taking over in January.
Seasoned stalwart: In just under four weeks, Brad Friedel will turn 41, but the Tottenham Hotspur keeper is still a fixture in the English Premier League. The USA international’s appearance for Spurs against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend was his 300th in the league without interruption, setting a new record.