Quintet remain in command
The weekend served up late drama in Europe’s leading domestic leagues. A promoted club denied Bayern Munich top spot at the halfway mark in the Bundesliga, while Barcelona struck late to see off Real Madrid in La Liga. FIFA.com reviews the latest developments in the continent's biggest leagues.
Premier League: Big four all draw
The 'big four' in England were all left to rue missed chances at the weekend. Leaders Liverpool drew 2-2 with promoted Hull City, but second-placed Chelsea failed to capitalise in a 1-1 home draw with West Ham United. Manchester United played out a goalless draw away to Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal's trip to Middlesbrough finished 1-1.
Fast-improving Aston Villa were the only club to profit, beating Bolton Wanderers 4-2 to overtake the Gunners and go fourth. At the wrong end of the table, bottom club West Bromwich Albion lost 4-0 to fellow strugglers Sunderland.
Top three: Liverpool (38 points), Chelsea (37), Manchester United (32)
Bottom three: Sunderland (18), Blackburn Rovers (13), West Bromwich Albion (12)
Leading scorers: Nicolas Anelka (14 goals), Gabriel Agbonlahor (9), Robinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Amr Zaki, Jermain Defoe (all 8)
Weekend stat: 100 - Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka scored his 100th Premier League goal at the weekend.
La Liga: Barcelona triumph in El Clasico
Barcelona and Real Madrid, two veritable giants of the sport, met at the weekend for the 157th time. At the end of a tense encounter, late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi handed Barça a 2-0 triumph and Real's new coach Juande Ramos a losing start.
The Catalans now lead the standings on 38 points, eight clear of the chasing pack. Valencia are second after beating Espanyol 2-1, while Sevilla edged Villarreal 1-0 to leapfrog their visitors into third spot. Real Madrid are back in sixth, 12 points off the pace.
Top three: Barcelona (38 points), Valencia, Sevilla (both 30)
Bottom three: Mallorca, Recreativo Huelva (both 13 points), Osasuna (9)
Leading scorers: Samuel Eto'o (15 goals), David Villa (12), Lionel Messi, Diego Forlan, Gonzalo Higuain (all 10)
Weekend stat: 2 – Barcelona’s victory over Real Madrid was only the second home win in the last eight El Clasico encounters at the Nou Camp.
Serie A: Inter stride clear
Champions Inter Milan continue to set the pace in Serie A. The Nerazzurri saw off Chievo 4-2, courtesy of a late brace from superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the game deadlocked going into the last ten minutes, the Swede struck twice to seal the points.
In the biggest game of the weekend, Juventus beat AC Milan by the same scoreline. Alessandro del Piero put the home side ahead from the spot after 16 minutes, but Alexandre Pato levelled on the half-hour mark. Giorgio Chiellini and Amauri restored and extended the home side’s lead respectively, before Massimo Ambrosini pulled one back six minutes after the restart. However, Amauri completed his brace to settle the issue. The defeat dropped Milan to fourth behind Napoli, comfortable 3-0 winners over Lecce.
Top three: Inter Milan (39 points), Juventus (33), Napoli (30)
Bottom three: Torino, Reggina (both 12), Chievo (9)
Leading scorers: Marco di Vaio, Alberto Gilardino, Diego Milito (all 12), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Amauri (both 10)
Weekend stat: 10 – Juve marksman Amauri struck twice in a match for the tenth time in his career.
Bundesliga: Hoffenheim the halfway masters
Hoffenheim battled out a 1-1 draw with Schalke to top the Bundesliga standings at the halfway point. Gerald Asamoah fired the visitors into the lead five minutes before half-time, but substitute Selim Teber equalised for the top-flight newcomers with a sublime free-kick after 72 minutes.
The result handed champions Bayern the chance to go top for the first time this term, but they held 2-2 at Stuttgart, Sami Khedira volleying a stoppage-time equaliser for the home team. Khedira earlier handed his side the lead on the stroke of half-time, but Tim Borowski and Luca Toni turned the game in Bayern's favour. Behind the front two, Hertha Berlin beat Karlsruhe 4-0 and Hamburg overcame Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 to move third and fourth respectively.
Top three: Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich (both 35 points), Hertha Berlin (33)
Bottom three: Energie Cottbus (13), Bochum, Borussia Monchengladbach (both 11)
Leading scorers: Vedad Ibisevic (18 goals), Patrick Helmes (12), Grafite (11)
Weekend stat: 2 – A promoted club has claimed top spot at the midpoint of the season, the so-called 'autumn championship', for only the second time in the history of the Bundesliga. The only previous occasion was in the 1997/98 season, when Kaiserslautern improbably went on to win the league.
Ligue 1: Big game ends goalless
The eagerly-awaited showdown between leaders Lyon and second-placed Marseille petered out into a goalless stalemate. The champions retain their three-point lead over the pursuing pack.
The result allowed Bordeaux, 3-1 winners in Le Mans, and Paris Saint-Germain, who beat Auxerre 2-1, to close the gap on Lyon at the top. The pair are now level on points with Marseille.
Top three: Lyon (35 points), Marseille, Bordeaux (both 32)
Bottom three: Valenciennes (14), Sochaux (13), Le Havre (12)
Leading scorers: Andre-Pierre Gignac, Guillaume Hoarau, Fernando Cavenaghi (all 10 goals)
Weekend stat: 0 – A meeting between the big two of Lyon and Marseille ended goalless for the first time in seven years and 13 matches.
In the Belgian Jupiler League, Standard Liege registered a fine 4-1 win away to Club Bruges. The reigning champions duly swapped places with their opponents and are now second. Anderlecht beat Roeselare 3-0 and now lead the standings by four points.
In Greece, runners-up PAOK Saloniki met fourth-placed Xanthi. The home side won 1-0 to move within four points of leaders Olympiacos, who were held 1-1 by Larisa.