• Friday, 30 April 2010

    Ligue 1 round 35

    Grenoble 4-0 PSG
    Monaco 1-1 Le Mans
    Valenciennes 2-0 Bordeaux

    Another defeat for Bordeaux and they are on the brink of relinquishing their title. They lie 14 points off the summit with five games to play. Basically it ain't gonna happen for them as Gregory Pujol and Foued Kadir struck in either half to score a decisive win for VA. Grenoble aren't going quietly and dropped PSG into the bottom half of the table - that's not going to be good enough for the board as they come to reassess Antoine Kombouaré's position - as four different players got themselves on the scoresheet. Laurent Batlles and Nicoas Dieuze made it 2-0 by half time and second half goals from Nassim Akrour and Danijel Ljuboja completed a comprehensive win for the bottom club. Mathieu Dossevi's early strike for Le Mans was pegged back by Ouwa Maazou early in the second half as Monaco came back to draw.

    Auxerre v Marseille
    Lille v Nancy
    Valenciennes v Lorient
    Rennes v Sochaux
    St Etienne v Lens
    Boulogne v Nice
    Bordeaux v Toulouse
    Montpellier v Lyon

    Big game this weekend comes on Friday night at the Abbe-Deschamps where Auxerre and Marseille face off in what almost amounts to a championship play-off. A win for Marseille and they're pretty much uncatchable. A draw helps neither, but Auxerre can do everyone a favour - not least themselves - with a win. They've not lost in the league at home since early December and they were the last side to beat Marseille at the Vélodrome. It's set up for a cracker.

    Bordeaux's faltering challenge even for European football next season sees them take on Toulouse. Laurent Blanc is pointing to his own team's lethargy for their downfall, which has been dramatic. "We no longer have the technical, mental or physical force to put our opponents in danger", he said after the VA defeat, which is pretty scathing. The feeling that Blanc himself is already half-way to accepting the national coach job after the World Cup grows with every utterance on these lines.

    Montpellier and Lyon are vying for a Champions League place, but given the way Lyon played midweek - and that's off the back of the LFP rearranging games to give them last weekend off - which was so weak and short of ideas, then Montpellier have a great chance. Lille remain in the box seat for that third CL place and are at home to Nancy this week. Should St Etienne get a win at home to Lens on Sunday, then it all but relegates Le Mans and Boulogne. Le Mans have the weekend off, but Boulogne are at home to Nice where three points is a must if they're to stand a chance. Valenciennes are at home to Lorient and Sochaux go to Rennes in a pair of mid-table clashes in the remaining games.

    Bundesliga round 33

    Hannover v Monchengladbach
    Leverkusen v Hertha
    Hamburg v Nurnberg
    Cologne v Freiburg
    Eintracht v Hoffenheim
    Dortmund v Wolfsburg
    Schalke v Bremen
    Stuttgart v Mainz
    Bayern v Bochum

    With two rounds of fixtures remaining, everyone kicks off at half two (UK time) on Saturday. There's a growing war of words between the title rivals. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, perhaps getting a bit carried away from the 3-0 tubbing of a hopeless Lyon side in the Champions League in the week, reckons Bayern can win the lot - league, Cup and Champions League. Felix Magath is a master of this kind of thing though and did what he does best; take the pressure off his players completely with a few well-placed soundbites. Despite Bayern facing Bochum and Bayern in these last two games, Magath said "I believe that the guys from Munich are still going to slip up in the run-in". Schalke have Bremen at home and Mainz away left to play, both tricky opponents, but a full-strength squad to pick from. Bochum, Bayern's opponents this week, have sacked Heiko Herrlich after a run of ten games without a win. Herrlich was only in the job for six months having taken over from Marcel Koller in October. Daruisz Wosz takes over for the last two games as Bochum begin the final fortnight in the bottom three.

    Hertha will be down if they fail to win this week, and there's every chance that'll happen as they go to Leverkusen this week. Hannover are in the other automatic relegation spot and they have a visit from Gladbach. Nurnberg are still deep in trouble and face troubled Hamburg while Freiburg aren't completely out of it, though a point will do for them this week at Cologne.

    Dortmund and Stuttgart retain hopes of Champions League qualification and are both at home, to Wolfsburg and Mainz respectively. In a mid-table, nothing to play for sort of game, Eintracht face Hoffenheim.

    Monday, 26 April 2010

    Valbuena keeps OM on course: Ligue 1 reviews

    Lorient 1-0 Bordeaux
    Le Mans 1-2 Lille
    Nice 2-1 Grenoble
    Sochaux 0-3 Boulogne
    Nancy 0-0 Montpellier
    PSG 1-1 Rennes
    Toulouse 0-3 Auxerre
    Lens 1-1 Valenciennes
    Marseille 1-0 St Etienne

    The top five can all still take the Championnat, but it's looking increasingly likely that Marseille are going to take it. Mathieu Valbuena's sixth-minute goal gave OM a 1-0 win over St Etienne and that maintains their gap back to the rest. Auxerre remain the nearest pursuers after blowing Toulouse away in the second half after a goalless first 45. Benoit Pedretti put them in front a couple of minutes into the second half and two from Ireneusz Jelen sealed it. Lille's win at Le Mans puts them into third place and the last Champions League spot. Tulio de Melo put them in front early on, but they were pegged back by Modibo Maiga early in the second half. A penalty from Yohan Cabaye won it after Gervinho was brought down in the box. Lyon remain in with a theoretical chance with their game in hand, as do Montpellier despite a goalless draw with Nancy. Bordeaux lost yet more ground as Kevin Gameiro won it for Lorient, but the reigning champions are still in with a shout - albeit a slim one. They've now lost four of their last five. That is not the form of champions.

    St Etienne's defeat means that Le Mans and Boulogne still retain a chance of getting out of trouble. Boulogne beat ten-man Sochaux, Jacques Faty sent off with quarter of an hour to go when the score was 1-0. Gregory Thil had put Boulogne ahead, but it was only after the red card that they made it safe with Mustapha Yatabaré and Jeremy Blayac on target. Grenoble can't even give their fans something to cheer as they limp out of the league with a whimper. They blew a lead, not for the first time, after Nassim Akrour had put them ahead. Eric Mouloungui pulled Nice level and Emerse Fae won it for them. PSG could only draw with Rennes, Guillaume Hoarau equalising Jerome Leroy's opener. Lens and Valenciennes battled to a stalemate as well, Gregory Pujol equalising for VA after Sébastien Roudet had put Lens in front on the half hour.

    There are a few midweek games as clubs catch up:

    Monaco v Le Mans
    Grenoble v PSG
    Valenciennes v Bordeaux

    Bordeaux have to win or they can forget about retaining their title. There's a lot less riding on the other games.

    Labbadia out after Hamburg cop a flogging: Bundesliga reviews

    Bochum 0-2 Stuttgart
    Nurnberg 2-3 Dortmund
    Hertha 0-1 Schalke
    Monchengladbach 1-1 Bayern
    Leverkusen 3-0 Hannover
    Mainz 3-3 Eintracht
    Bremen 1-0 Cologne
    Hoffenheim 5-1 Hamburg
    Freiburg 1-0 Wolfsburg

    The writing was on the wall for Bruno Labbadia from a while back, but the Hamburg board acted after a gubbing from Hoffenheim. Vedad Ibisevic and Chinedu Obasi both got doubles as Hoffenheim ended a grim run of results with a 5-1 thrashing. Ibisevic put The Villagers two up in ten minutes before Obasi's first on the half hour made it three. Robert Tesche pulled one back, but Obasi got Hoffenheim's fourth shortly before Sejad Salihovic added a fifth. Worse still for Hamburg, substitute Tolgay Arslan was sent off in stoppage time for violent conduct. Normally, there wouldn't be too much shock at the coach getting the boot, but the timing is a little odd with the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against Fulham in a few days time. Ricardo Moniz will be in charge for that one and for the rest of the season. The final of the Europa League is at the Volksparkstadion and the weight of expectation on the club reaching that final has been overwhelming.

    Up at the pointy end of the table, Bayern dropped points at Gladbach. Marco Reus put Gladbach ahead on the counter-attack on the hour, but Miroslav Klose came off the bench to head home an equaliser from Phillip Lahm's free-kick to rescue a point. It looked like Schalke were about to pass up the chance to level it up at the top as they were being held by Hertha at the time, but Heiko Westermann swooped on Jefferson Farfan's parried shot to prod home a late winner. Bayern lead by a superior goal difference of 13.

    It is now a two-horse race. Bremen and Leverkusen needed the top two to lose all their remaining games to stand a chance. Both are now seven points adrift with two games to go. Bremen won against Cologne, but got lucky. It was deep in stoppage time when Pedro Geromel was sent off for handling in the box and Torsten Grings slammed the penalty home. Stefan Kiessling went back to the top of the goal-scoring charts with two of Leverkusen's three against Hannover coming either side of Burak Kaplan's goal, his second in as many games for the club. Bremen lead Leverkusen by just two goals in the race for the final Champions League spot. Dortmund lie just a point further back thanks largely to a Lucas Barrios hat-trick. Christian Eigler pulled it back to 3-2 six minutes from time, but Dortmund held out for the win. Stuttgart also remain hopeful of Champions League football after a 2-0 win over Bochum on Friday night. Early goals from Cacau and Ciprian Marica sealed it.

    Bochum's loss drops them into the bottom three as Freiburg won against Wolfsburg. Cedric Makiadi got the only goal of the game late in the first half as they leap up to 14th. Honours were even on the Main as Eintracht twice blew a lead in Mainz. Alexander Meier put them two up inside twenty minutes, but Aristide Bancé pulled one back seconds before the break and Jan Simak equalised shortly after it. They were level for just seven minutes before Umit Korkmaz restored Eintracht's lead, but Bancé's second came a few minutes from time to square it up once more.

    Friday, 23 April 2010

    Ligue 1 round 34

    Lorient v Bordeaux
    Le Mans v Lille
    Nice v Grenoble
    Sochaux v Boulogne
    Nancy v Montpellier
    PSG v Rennes
    Toulouse v Auxerre
    Lens v Valenciennes
    Marseille v St Etienne

    Just nine games this weekend. The LFP agreed to Lyon's request to postpone their game with Monaco in order to prepare for their Champions League semi-final second leg against Bayern. This has greatly annoyed the Germans, which is presumably why the LFP did it.

    Marseille are in the box seat and really ought to be beating St Etienne. Les Verts are all but safe - another couple of points should do it - and look relatively simple opposition to l'OM bandwagon which has built up such a head of steam. Auxerre can take advantage of Lyon's inaction to put some daylight between the sides should they beat Toulouse. Who knows which Toulouse will show up. Montpellier are at Nancy where anything would do to put them in front of Lyon and into the Champions League places, even if it is only temporary. By beating Le Mans, Lille could leapfrog the pair of them should Montpellier fail to win as could Bordeaux if they get their season back on track against Lorient.

    Boulogne will finally be relegated unless they beat Sochaux, though if St Etienne get anything from Marseille, they're gone anyway. Grenoble are down and go to Nice. Elsewhere, Valenciennes are at Lens and Rennes are in the capital to take on PSG.

    This is it: Eredivisie final round preview

    AZ v PSV
    Groningen v Sparta
    Utrecht v Vitesse
    Feyenoord v Heerenveen
    NAC v Twente
    NEC v Ajax
    Waalwijk v VVV Venlo
    Roda v Willem II
    Heracles v Den Haag

    So it's come to this. 90 minutes to decide the destination of the soup dish. It's already left Alkmaar as the champions had no chance ages ago. It's in Twente's hands to take their first ever championship. All they need to do is win in Breda. Simple eh? Well, yes it is. The real test of their title credentials was last week when they pulled off a terrific and professional win over Feyenoord. They have refused to buckle under the pressure of Ajax's marvellous run of form that's taken them to within a point and onto 102 league goals. Ajax really ought to see off NEC with ease, but they'll also need a big leg up from NAC. Were it the other way round, Twente going to Nijmegen, then perhaps Ajax fans would have more hope as NEC have been something of a bogey side for Twente over the years. All eyes are on those two games. The others are pretty much a sideshow.

    Not to us though. PSV finish against AZ. Both sit in the Europa League qualifying spots, but Feyenoord - home to Heerenveen - need a hand from PSV if they're to pip AZ to fourth. Heracles and Utrecht - home to Den Haag and Vitesse respectively - will finish in the Europa League play-offs and will play each other in the first round, the only question remaining is about who plays where when. The final spot is currently in Groningen's hands and they're at home to Sparta who will finish in the relegation play-offs. NAC and Roda are looking to gatecrash the Europa League play-offs and Roda face the other relegation play-off 'qualifiers' in the shape of Willem II.

    The play-off systems mean there's generally a lot to play for right through the season. Not so this year. Waalwijk v VVV has nothing riding on it at all. Still, eight out of nine ain't bad.

    One final note. With Ajax and Feyenoord facing each other in the cup final, there's been a change of format. The potential for trouble has seen the KNVB decide against the traditional one-off final at De Kuip and instead play it over two legs, one at the Amsterdam ArenA and one at De Kuip with no away supporters allowed at either match. The first leg went to Ajax in Amsterdam, Siem de Jong with two early goals in a 2-0 win.

    So Twente or Ajax? Place your bets.

    Bundesliga round 32

    Bochum v Stuttgart
    Nurnberg v Dortmund
    Hertha v Schalke
    Monchengladbach v Bayern
    Leverkusen v Hannover
    Mainz v Eintracht
    Bremen v Cologne
    Hoffenheim v Hamburg
    Freiburg v Wolfsburg

    This is the last chance saloon for Bremen and Leverkusen. Nine points behind league leaders Bayern, should either slip up, they're out of the title race. Even as it stands, they need a minor miracle given the number of goals they have to make up on the Bavarians, especially after that seven-goal haul last week. That came against Hannover and they're up against Leverkusen this week. Bremen should be favourites to beat Cologne too, but it's out of their hands. Schalke are the only realistic challenger and they're away in Berlin this week. Hertha are desperate for points, but Schalke ought to be too strong. Either way, everyone's waiting for Bayern to slip up. Despite the ongoing scandal involving Franck Ribery, they have quality in the squad that nobody else in the league can boast. Young Diego Contento, for instance, has burst onto the scene and looks a terrific prospect. Good luck Gladbach. You'll need it.

    It's derby time on the River Main as Eintracht take the short trip out of the city up the road to Mainz. Local bragging rights are very much at stake with Mainz just a point behind their bigger neighbours but with a very good home record. That's the main point of interest in mid-table. Once again, it's the bottom end where the most interest lies. Freiburg, Bochum and Nurnberg are all locked on 28 points above the bottom two. Bochum kick the weekend off on Friday at home to Stuttgart - hard to see them get anything out of that - while Freiburg are at home to Wolfsburg - again... - and Nurnberg are also at home to Dortmund. BvB will be without Mohamed Zidan, indeed he's gone for six months with a cruciate ligament injury, but surely look too strong for Nurnberg. Time is running out for all these three.

    Finally, there's a game between Hamburg and Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim could probably use some points as they're in a small amount of danger of getting sucked into it at the bottom. They should be OK, but it's getting a bit too close for comfort.

    Monday, 19 April 2010

    Marseille march on: Ligue 1 reviews

    Rennes 0-0 Nancy
    Boulogne 1-2 Marseille
    Valenciennes 0-1 Le Mans
    Auxerre 4-1 Lorient
    Grenoble 2-2 Sochaux
    Nice 0-0 Lens
    Bordeaux 2-2 Lyon
    Lille 4-0 Monaco
    Montpellier 1-1 Toulouse
    St Etienne 0-0 PSG

    Five games still remain in Ligue 1, so nothing at the top end is decided yet. It is beginning to take shape though and the form of Marseille far exceeds that of any of the other sides in the league. They needed a late Taye Taiwo penalty to maintain their run of five straight wins. Mathieu Valbuena had put them ahead late in the first half, but Boulogne weren't about to roll over and were back in it through Jeremy Blayac eight minutes from time. In the last minute, Yoann Lachor was adjudged, harshly, to have handled in the box and Taiwo thumped in the spot kick. OM remain five points clear of Auxerre who eased to a 4-1 win over nine-man Lorient. Dennis Oliech, Ireneusz Jelen and Valter Birsa had put AJA into a three-goal lead before Jeremy Morel was the first Lorient player dismissed. Kevin Gameiro pulled one back, despite the numerical disadvantage, but Fabien Audard followed Morel off the pitch and the game was up. Cedric Hengbart added a late penalty to complete the win.

    Lyon lost ground in a draw with Bordeaux, but the talking point wasn't Les Gones coming back from a goal down twice, but the three dismissals in the last minute following a mass brawl. Arsenal-bound Marouane Chamakh put Bordeaux in front in the first half, only for Ederson to peg it back ten minutes after the restart. Jaroslav Plasil restored the lead seven minutes later, but just ten more minutes had elapsed when Cris nodded in a second equaliser. In the last minute, Anthony Reveillere was sent off for a bad foul on Benoit Tremoulinas who was also dismissed alongside team-mate Jussie as tempers boiled over. Montpellier couldn't take advantage to move back into the Champions League places as they were held by Toulouse and Colin Kazim-Richards' last minute equaliser after Alberto Costa had put Montpellier in front in the first half. Two Yohan Cabaye goals were a feature of Lille's 4-0 win over Monaco as they move to within a point of those coveted European places.

    Grenoble picked up a point at home to Sochaux, but they're already down. Boulogne's defeat means they have to win all their remaining games to get out of it while Le Mans grabbed a huge win over Valenciennes despite going down a man - Guillaume Loriot sent off at 0-0 with seven minutes to go. Sebastien Corchia grabbed the winner in stoppage time. They're eight points behind St Etienne who were held to a goalless draw at home to PSG. There were also goalless draws for Rennes at home to Nancy and Nice, who are edging their way to safety, against Lens.

    Bayern hit seven to remain in charge: Bundesliga review

    Cologne 2-0 Bochum
    Freiburg 2-1 Nurnberg
    Hamburg 0-1 Mainz
    Wolfsburg 2-4 Bremen
    Schalke 3-1 Monchengladbach
    Stuttgart 2-1 Leverkusen
    Bayern 7-0 Hannover
    Dortmund 1-1 Hoffenheim
    Eintracht 2-2 Hertha

    Bayern produced a virtuoso performance to crush lowly Hamburg and stay in control of the Bundesliga. The highlight was a hat-trick from Arjen Robben who was in sparkling form throughout, the Dutchman combining pace, vision and a deft touch in front of goal to finish with a treble. Ivica Olic headed in the opener and ended with two while wunderkind Thomas Muller also helped himself to a brace. Schalke remain on their heels after beating Gladbach, Ivan Rakitic getting two including a late penalty. A loss for Leverkusen and a win for Bremen mean they both retain mathematical chances of the title, but it will take a minor miracle for the other results they require to go for them to materialise. Bremen had the veteran international midfielder Torsten Frings at the top of his form as they twice came from behind to Wolfsburg. Edin Dzeko's opener was pegged back by a Frings penalty before Grafite restored the lead. Claudio Pizarro squared it up for a second and Frings' second and a fourth from Hugo Almeida won it. Leverkusen went ahead through Stefan Kiessling early on, but lost Tranquilo Barnetta to a red card shortly afterwards. They couldn't hang on and Cacau got both of Stuttgart's goals as they turned it round.

    It's at the bottom where the real intrigue lies. Results this week see one point cover 14th to 17th place. Hertha remain adrift despite a draw with Eintracht. Gojko Kacar put them in front and, though Umit Korkmaz equalised for the Frankfurters, they took heart from Pirmin Schwegler's missed penalty late in the first half. Following that, Hertha were straight on the attack and Raffael finished a sweeping move. Marco Russ secured a point for Eintracht on the hour. Hannover's defeat sees them in the second relegation place with three clubs just a point above them. Two of those are Freiburg and Nurnberg who faced each other on Saturday, Freiburg getting the win thanks to Dominic Maroh's early own goal and Demba Cisse's strike on the hour. Maroh atoned in part for his early error with a late goal, but it wasn't enough to prevent Freiburg's win. Bochum went down to two Zoran Tosic goals on Friday night in Cologne and remain deep in trouble.

    A late equaliser from Vedad Ibisevic denied Dortmund all three points against Hoffenheim which means BvB couldn't take advantage of losses elsewhere to move into the Champions League places and their title push is over. Nelson Valdez had put them in front before the Bosnian Ibisevic nicked a point. Hamburg also lost ground, going down to Aristide Bancé's 20th minute strike which won it for Mainz.

    Twente within touching distance: Eredivisie reviews

    Den Haag 4-0 Waalwijk
    Ajax 4-0 Heracles
    Heerenveen 0-0 NAC
    PSV 3-1 Groningen
    Sparta 0-3 Utrecht
    Twente 2-0 Feyenoord
    Vitesse 2-5 Roda
    VVV Venlo 2-0 NEC
    Willem II 0-3 AZ

    We postulated the theory that fans of Twente would be hoping for a favour from their big rivals Heracles. Instead, the team did what they had to do and saw off Feyenoord themselves and maintained their single-point lead on the table. Blaise N'Kufo put them ahead just before the break, slipped past a statuesque defence by Bryan Ruiz and slamming the ball past Erwin Mulder. Miroslav Stoch sealed it in the second half, again springing the offside trap and finishing in style. Ajax are now the ones hoping for favours from elsewhere. All they can do is win and hope and they did that in some style at home to Heracles. Siem de Jong headed in for a first-half double, the second Ajax's 100th league goal of the season. Marko Pantelic took over after the break, bagging a double of his own. The first saw him lob the keeper with the outside of his boot - delightful - while his second came from de Jong's header which came off the bar to fall at the Serbian's feet.

    Feyenoord's defeat cost them fourth place as AZ scored yet another win, this time over Willem II. Hector Moreno put them ahead early and two in five second half minutes from Brett Holman and Mounir El Hamdaoui sent them into the automatic Europa League places above the Rotterdam side. PSV will finish third. They came from behind to beat Groningen who were ahead within three minutes through Tim Matavz. Zakaria Labyad, on his first start for the club, got two either side of a Balázs Dzsudzsák strike.

    Waalwijk lost again, Den Haag sealing their Eredivisie status for next season with a 4-0 win. Two up by the break through Timothy Derijck and a Kees Luijckx penalty, they closed out a vital win through Andre Oper and a late one from Danny Buijs. This, combined with the loss for Willem II to AZ and Sparta's loss at home to Utrecht means that the bottom three are settled. Jacob Lensky put Utrecht ahead against Sparta and when Rydell Poepon missed from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, that sinking feeling began to get worse for the Rotterdam side. Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Erixson Danso wrapped up the win.

    Willem Janssen and Mads Junker both hit two in a thumping win over Vitesse while Ruud Boymans got both for VVV in a 2-0 win over NEC. Heerenveen couldn't take advantage of the dismissal of NAC's Robbert Schilder, Gerald Sibon missing the resultant penalty.

    Saturday, 17 April 2010

    Squeaky bum time: Eredivisie reviews/previews

    AZ 1-0 Twente
    Heracles 4-1 Waalwijk
    Vitesse 1-1 NAC
    Roda 4-2 VVV Venlo
    Willem II 0-2 Ajax
    Feyenoord 3-0 Sparta
    Heerenveen 2-2 PSV
    Den Haag 2-3 NEC
    Utrecht 1-1 Groningen

    The four-point gap that Twente had built up allowed them one slip-up. They've now had it. Mounir El Hamdaoui's eight-minute goal was enough to beat the long-time leaders for just the second time this season. Ajax duly beat Willem II, as everyone expected, in a comfortable Luis Suarez - another penalty - and Marko Pantelic struck league goals number 97 and 98 for the season. Ajax's last two games look simple victories. Twente take on Feyenoord this week. This weekend could see it settled.

    PSV could only draw as their season ends with a whimper. They were twice pegged back by Heerenveen while Feyenoord comfortably won the Rotterdam derby, a result which leaves Sparta in the bottom three. Feyenoord remain just two points ahead of AZ in the second automatic Europa League spot.

    Waalwijk's season can't end soon enough after Everton scored twice in an easy Heracles win and Den Haag remain in trouble after blowing a two-goal lead against NEC. Three goals in the last 12 minutes, including a Christian Kum own goal, turned the game around. Utrecht and Groningen drew, as did Vitesse and NAC, Edwin de Graaf striking in the dying seconds to rescue a point for the Breda club.

    Den Haag v Waalwijk
    Ajax v Heracles
    Heerenveen v NAC
    PSV v Groningen
    Sparta v Utrecht
    Twente v Feyenoord
    Vitesse v Roda
    VVV Venlo v NEC
    Willem II v AZ

    Interesting week this week, the penultimate round of fixtures. It will see Twente fans hoping local rivals Heracles can do them a favour while Ajax will be hoping for the same from their arch-nemeses Feyenoord. It's still in Twente's hands. They win their last two and Ajax can score as many as they like and it won't matter. Feyenoord are an awkward bunch and it's easy to see them getting something out of this game. It's a lot harder to make a case for Heracles to get anything from Ajax. PSV can still win it, but need to win both of their games while hoping neither Ajax nor Twente win again. Unlikely. And if Groningen get anything from the game, it's over for the Eindhoveners.

    Should Twente win, then AZ can go ahead of Feyenoord into fourth place by beating struggling Willem II. Sparta start the round in the bottom three and have a tough game against Utrecht while Den Haag are at home to Waalwijk and will be looking for a vital win. VVV have slipped back after some poor results lately and they take on NEC while there's little riding on the other games between Heerenveen and NAC and Vitesse and Roda.

    Ligue 1 round 33

    Sochaux 0-1 Marseille
    Le Mans 2-1 Bordeaux

    A couple of midweek games took place last Wednesday and contrasting fortunes for two title contenders. Marseille stretched the lead to five points at the top after Stephane Mbia won it in the last couple of minutes at Sochaux. Bordeaux have just imploded. Nobody loses to Le Mans, especially a side looking to take the title. All of a sudden, the champions are now nine points off the top after this defeat. They led early on through Carlos Henrique, but Anthony Le Tallec equalised ten minutes later and Mathieu Dossevi put Le Mans ahead on the stroke of half-time. And they held on despite losing Fousseyni Cisse's to a late red card.

    Rennes v Nancy
    Boulogne v Marseille
    Valenciennes v Le Mans
    Auxerre v Lorient
    Grenoble v Sochaux
    Nice v Lens
    Bordeaux v Lyon
    Lille v Monaco
    Montpellier v Toulouse
    St Etienne v PSG

    So to round 33 and one game stands out a mile. Bordeaux v Lyon. Coming shortly after Lyon's triumph over Bordeaux in the Champions League and Bordeaux in stinky rotten form, it all points to a win for Les Gones. Unless one of these sides win, then you may as well hand Marseille the crown as it's impossible to see them losing to Boulogne. Auxerre are the nearest challengers, but again they need to win at home to Lorient in order to keep the race alive. Montpellier look to have shot their bolt, championship-wise, but are still in the frame for Europe and take on Toulouse this week.

    Le Mans gave themselves an outside chance of survival by beating Bordeaux, but they're still ten points behind St Etienne. If Les Verts get anything out of their game against PSG, it could condemn Le Mans to the drop no matter what happens at Valenciennes. Grenoble are already down and there are a couple of games with hardly anything riding on them as Nancy go to Rennes and Nice face Lens.

    Friday, 16 April 2010

    Bundesliga round 31

    Cologne v Bochum
    Freiburg v Nurnberg
    Hamburg v Mainz
    Wolfsburg v Bremen
    Schalke v Monchengladbach
    Stuttgart v Leverkusen
    Bayern v Hannover 96
    Dortmund v Hoffenheim
    Eintracht v Hertha

    Time pressures and some technical issues at Euroballs Towers means this will have to be brief. Bayern start their canter to the title with a home game against lowly Hannover. The run-in for the Bavarians should see them win all their remaining game and, should that transpire, the championship is theirs. Schalke take on Gladbach while Leverkusen need to win to maintain any hope. What hope there is looks to be forlorn.

    Freiburg v Nurnberg is the big one down at the bottom. Lose it, and Freiburg are all but condemned to the bottom three. Hertha, meanwhile, have to win. Nothing else will do now. Elsewhere, Bochum need something out of their game at Cologne while the rest are jockeying for position in mid-table.

    Monday, 12 April 2010

    Grenoble finally down: Ligue 1 reviews

    Toulouse 4-0 Grenoble
    Lorient 1-1 Rennes
    Monaco 2-1 Valenciennes
    Sochaux 0-2 St Etienne
    Le Mans 2-2 Montpellier
    Lens 3-0 Boulogne
    PSG 3-1 Bordeaux
    Lyon 1-1 Lille
    Nancy 0-1 Auxerre
    Marseille 4-1 Nice

    Lyon and Auxerre both had spells at the top of Ligue 1 over the course of the weekend as matches developed, but Marseille ended it top as they had been coming into the round. They were last in action, the late Sunday kick-off seeing them dispatch Nice with something to spare. Bakari Koné opened the scoring shortly before the break and it was two a few minutes after through Stéphane Mbia. Two in three minutes later on - Mathieu Valbuena and Souleymane Diawara - made it four and Nice only got their consolation in stoppage time. Auxerre had been in action earlier on Sunday and won through a late Daniel Niculae strike which sent them top, for a couple of hours at least. That was longer then Lyon had spent on top - it was all of about 16 minutes for Les Gones between the time Cris had equalised Pierre-Alain Frau's opener for Lille. Cris's goal came off the back of a free-kick given away by Ricardo Costa who saw red for his actions, but the sides would finish level as Maxime Gonalons followed him down the tunnel ten minutes from time. Bordeaux suffered a major setback, losing heavily to PSG. Bordeaux keeper Ulrich Ramé was sent off on the half-hour and it was an uphill battle from there. Sylvain Armand put PSG ahead before the break and Mevlut Erding made it two halfway through the second period. Ludovic Sané pulled one back, but Guillaume Hoarau headed in the clincher four minutes from time.

    Grenoble are down. They're now twenty points shy of safety with eighteen to play for after they were hammered by Toulouse - Franck Tabanou with two and André-Pierre Gignac making a welcome return ahead of the World Cup in a 4-0 win - and St Etienne went and beat Sochaux. Loic Perrin struck just before the break while Gonzalo Bergessio made it safe in the second half. Not only does that condemn Grenoble to their fate, it puts a buffer of eleven points back from Les Verts to Boulogne in 18th. That's not mathematically safe, but it'll take a huge turnaround in form for it to be overhauled. Toifilu Maoulida's hat-trick for Lens sank Boulogne and a point for Le Mans against the once mighty but now stuttering Montpellier wasn't enough to make much of a difference. Roland Lamah put Le Mans in front within seconds of the kick-off, but Karim Ait Fana and a Souleymane Camara penalty turned the game back Montpellier's way. They lost direction after a double sending-off, Le Mans' Gregory Cerdan and Montpellier's Cyril Jeunechamp both going within seconds of each other. Cerdan went for deliberate handball while Jeunechamp attacked the Le Mans coach Arnaud Cormier. Montpellier boss Rene Girard was also shown red before Lamah's second grabbed a point for Le Mans.

    Elsewhere, Monaco came from behind at home to beat Valenciennes who were in front through Milan Bisevac. After the break, Nene and Moussa Maazou turned it around. And there was a share of the spoils in the local skirmish between the Bretons of Lorient and Rennes. Sigamary Diarra put Lorient in front, but Romain Danze equalised before the break.

    Leaders stumble again: Bundesliga reviews

    Monchengladbach 2-0 Eintracht
    Mainz 1-0 Dortmund
    Hannover 4-2 Schalke
    Hertha 0-1 Stuttgart
    Hoffenheim 0-2 Cologne
    Bremen 4-0 Freiburg
    Leverkusen 1-1 Bayern
    Bochum 1-2 Hamburg
    Nurnberg 0-2 Wolfsburg

    The Bundesliga is rapidly becoming the league nobody wants to win. Neither of the top two won, Schalke going down to a shock loss at struggling Hannover and Bayern being held by erstwhile leaders Leverkusen. Dortmund, in fourth, suffered a knock to their Champions League - if not championship - ambitions with defeat in Mainz. An Arjen Robben penalty for Bayern was quickly cancelled out by Arturo Vidal's free-kick while Schalke really did blow it against Hannover. Heiko Westermann put through his own net early on to give Hannover the lead and it was doubled on the half hour by Didier Ya Konan. A minute after the restart, Edu pulled one back and it was all square thanks to Ivan Rakitic's penalty a few minutes later. Hanno Baltisch swung the game back towards the hosts with a 25-yard rasper and Ya Konan added a fourth in stoppage time for a result which gives Hannover real hope of avoiding the drop. Dortmund went down to Adam Szalai's solo effort while Bremen took advantage, pulling back to a point behind their rivals with a comprehensive defeat of lowly Freiburg, Claudio Pizarro getting two.

    That result sees Freiburg slip to second bottom, but it's still Hertha rooted to the foot of the table after Cacau got the only goal for Stuttgart in a 1-0 win. Bochum fall back after an unlucky defeat to Hamburg. Robert Tesche put Hamburg ahead, but Zlatko Dedic, playing with pain killing injections in his broken toe, prodded Bochum level. The Hamburg goal led a charmed life thereafter, but Hamburg broke late on and, under pressure from Ruud van Nistelrooy, Andreas Johansson poked the ball past his own keeper. Nurnberg also remain in trouble after defeat to Wolfsburg. They looked value for at least a point against the champions who bounced back from Europa League disappointment with two goals on the break and a string of top drawer saves from Diego Benaglio. Edin Dzeko went top of the goal scoring standings with the first and Grafite sealed it ten minutes from time.

    Hoffenheim's miserable run continued with another home defeat in front of an increasingly grumbly crowd, Adam Matuschyk with both Cologne goals. And Gladbach overcame Eintracht on Friday night with early goals in each half, Danté in the first and Marco Reus in the second.

    Twente 180 minutes away: Eredivisie reviews

    Waalwijk 4-1 Vitesse
    Twente 2-0 Heerenveen
    NAC 1-0 Roda
    NEC 0-0 AZ
    Sparta 1-1 Heracles
    Utrecht 0-2 Den Haag
    PSV 0-0 Feyenoord
    Ajax 7-0 VVV Venlo
    Groningen 4-0 Willem II

    Ajax blasted seven past a hapless VVV Venlo side on Sunday, but it's a measure of how consistent Twente have been that they could double that and more and still not prove a threat to the Enschede side's title ambitions. Three games remain this season and if Twente win two of them, it's signed, sealed and delivered. Considering they've lost just one, still, all season long, the odds are shortening. Chiek Tioté got their opener twenty from time at home to Heerenveen and Luuk de Jong sealed the win in the dying moments. On Sunday, Luis Suarez and Marko Pantelic both hit hat-tricks for Ajax. It was 5-0 by half-time and the eventual total sees them on 96 league goals for the season. And it still doesn't look like being enough.

    PSV dropped points in a goalless draw with Feyenoord which all but rules them out of championship glory. It could have ended Feyenoord's long tenure in fourth place, but AZ failed to take advantage of the slip as they were held to 0-0 by NEC.

    Down at the bottom, Waalwijk pulled off their fifth win of the season to give themselves an outside chance of saving themselves. More likely, it merely postpones the inevitable, but a 4-1 win over Vitesse leaves them eight points adrift with nine more available. Calvin Jong-a-Pin's own goal set them away and Derk Boeriggter doubled the advantage soon after. In the second half, Dustley Muelder made it three a couple of minutes before Benjamin de Ceulaer added a fourth. Muelder put through his own net late on for a Vitesse consolation. It would still have meant relegation had Willem II not lost - they went down hard as well, 4-0 to Groningen. Thomas Enevoldsen set them off in the first minute and goals flowed at regular intervals. Sparta got a draw at home to Heracles, Edouard Duplan's equalising ensuring a point for the Rotterdammers, but they drop into the bottom three as Den Haag climb out following their good win at Utrecht. Finally, NAC kept up their push for the Europa League play-offs as Donny Gorter's early penalty was enough to beat Roda.

    Next up comes a Belgian week with a full round of fixtures over Tuesday and Wednesday:

    AZ v Twente
    Heracles v Waalwijk
    Vitesse v NAC
    Roda v VVV Venlo
    Willem II v Ajax
    Feyenoord v Sparta
    Heerenveen v PSV
    Den Haag v NEC
    Utrecht v Groningen

    So Waalwijk will be relegated unless they win and even if they do, a win for Willem II - unlikely though that sounds against a rampant Ajax - will also condemn them to the drop. Twente's trip to Alkmaar is their toughest prospect of the remaining fixtures, but if they win this then they really will be able to start planning where to put the soup dish. A favour from the Tilburgers probably wouldn't go amiss, but they ought to be confident of their own abilities. PSV need to win at Heerenveen or they're out of it. Elsewhere, there's a Rotterdam derby with Sparta and Feyenoord both desperate for points for their own ends. Could be tasty.

    Friday, 9 April 2010

    Bundesliga round 30

    Monchengladbach v Eintracht
    Mainz v Dortmund
    Hannover v Schalke
    Hertha v Stuttgart
    Hoffenheim v Cologne
    Bremen v Freiburg
    Leverkusen v Bayern
    Bochum v Hamburg
    Nurnberg v Wolfsburg

    Top game this week sees leaders Bayern take on Leverkusen. This is Leverkusen's last chance to influence the outcome of the championship this season. Lose here and they can forget it. The long-time leaders have lost their last three and sit six points behind Bayern who come off the back of knocking Manchester United out of the Champions League. They've been comically bad on occasion lately, but just keep grinding out the wins. Having beaten Schalke with ten men a week ago, win this and they're well on their way. Schalke will not let go though and face hapless Hannover this week. If they don't win that, they don't deserve a shot at the title.

    Hertha have five games to save their skins, but the first of those is against Stuttgart, on the up and chasing European football. Freiburg are the initial target, three points better off than the Berliners, and they face Bremen this week, so even if Hertha lose, they still have a chance. Above them are Bochum, a further three points up the table, who are at home to Hamburg this week. Hamburg will be without Paolo Guererro for this and the remaining games after he picked up a five-match ban for throwing a water bottle into a fan's face after last week's goalless draw with Hannover. Stupid boy.

    Dortmund are the form side of the league and sit just a point behind Leverkusen in fourth place. Champions League football is very much in their sights. They'll have to beat Mainz this week to take advantage of any potential stumble from Leverkusen, but Mainz are a tricky outfit, especially at home. Elsewhere, Wolfsburg will try to put Europa League disappointment behind them at Nurnberg, Eintracht travel to Gladbach and Hoffenheim face Cologne.

    Eredivisie round 31

    Waalwijk v Vitesse
    Twente v Heerenveen
    NAC v Roda
    NEC v AZ
    Sparta v Heracles
    Utrecht v Den Haag
    PSV v Feyenoord
    Ajax v VVV Venlo
    Groningen v Willem II

    One issue can be resolved this week. Waalwijk are down if they lose against Vitesse which would cap an utterly miserable campaign. With just the one automatic relegation place, it's rare to see clubs relegated this early, but they need to win all four remaining games to avoid finishing bottom while Willem II would need to lose all theirs. Trouble is, Waalwijk have only won four games all season so far, so that looks a little implausible. Willem II probably won't win at Groningen, but they'll need points to avoid the relegation play-offs. It's between them, Den Haag - onto a loser at Utrecht this week - and Sparta - also unlikely to win against Heracles.

    Up at the top, it won't be resolved this week, or next for that matter. Twente just need to do what they've done all season long for four more games. At home to Heerenveen this week, they look good to do just that. Ajax won't give up the chase and will see off VVV Venlo while PSV have a trickier task at home to Feyenoord who themselves need points to maintain fourth ahead of resurgent AZ. The outgoing champions are away in Nijmegen this week and a win for them couple with a Feyenoord loss and fourth place changes hands. NAC and Roda have both flirted with the Europa League play-offs, but both dropped out in the last few weeks. They face off against each other this week. No European football next season for the losers.

    Thursday, 8 April 2010

    Marseille emerge from the shadows: Ligue 1 reviews

    Ligue 1 has been like a 400m race this season. With a number of factors - terrible weather, mainly - contributing to a number of postponements which hasn't given the table a stable look. Now, however, we're at the top of the final bend and it's all beginning to unwind.

    Lyon 2-0 Grenoble
    Nancy 5-1 Lens
    Le Mans 1-3 Rennes
    Lorient 4-0 St Etienne
    PSG 3-0 Boulogne
    Toulouse 0-2 Nice
    Lille 4-1 Montpellier
    Monaco 0-0 Auxerre

    With Bordeaux not in action, here was Montpellier's chance to seize the initiative. Lille had other ideas and blew them off the Metropole park. Gervinho put LOSC in front in the first half, but Souleymane Camara equalised a minute after the break. Quickfire goals from Yohan Cabaye - a penalty - and Pierre-Alain Frau broke the southerners and Larsen Touré wrapped it up. Lyon assumed the position by beating ten-man Grenoble, Bostjan Cesar sent off in between goals from Michel Bastos and César Delgado. That sent them top as Auxerre could only muster a goalless draw with Monaco, a result which rules them out of the title, according to manager Juan Fernandez.

    The bottom three look dead and buried now. Le Mans copped a beating at home from Rennes, Jimmy Briand getting two in a 3-1 win, and ten-man Boulogne went down hard to PSG. St Etienne look out of range even though they also lost heavily, Kevin Gameiro getting two as Lorient ran out 4-0 winners. There were goals elsewhere as Issiar Dia's hat-trick helped Nancy to a big win over Lens and ten-man Toulouse went down at home to Nice.

    Grenoble 1-2 Lorient
    Valenciennes 1-0 Lille
    Nice 0-0 Sochaux
    Rennes 1-2 Lyon
    Bordeaux 1-2 Nancy
    St Etienne 2-0 Le Mans
    Montpellier 0-0 Monaco
    Boulogne 1-1 Toulouse
    Marseille 1-0 Lens
    Auxerre 1-1 PSG
    Marseille 3-0 Sochaux

    Bordeaux were back in action, but lost at home to Nancy, that man Issiar Dia with the winner after Fernando Cavenaghi had equalised Youssouf Hadji's opener. Montpellier were held 0-0 by Monaco, Auxerre also drew, 1-1 with PSG, and Lille went down by a single goal to Valenciennes, so Lyon's win at Rennes consolidated their top spot for a time. Asamoah Gyan put Rennes ahead, but Michel Bastos and Lisandro Lopez struck in the second half to seal the points. But hang on. What's this coming up in the rails? Why it's Marseille and they've a real head of steam up. They beat Lens at the Vélodrome, Brandao with the goal and they hung on after Stephane Mbia was sent off, and in midweek finally played a rearranged game against Sochaux where they blew their opponents off the park. Gabriel Heinze had them in front inside ten minutes and Hatem Ben Arfa's penalty made it two before the break. Bakari Koné wrapped it up late on and Marseille now sit atop the league. The top five are covered by just three points though, and Bordeaux have played 29 times to Marseille's 30 and everybody else's 31.

    One more defeat and Grenoble are officially down. Nassim Akrour gave the long suffering GF38 fans the illusion of hope in the third minute against Lorient, but they soon reverted to type. Kevin Gameiro equalised before the break and James Fanchone won it with five minutes to go. Daniel Braathen's late equaliser denied Boulogne a rare win while Le Mans went down to St Etienne. Cedric Varrault and Yohan Benaloaune got the goals, but Kevin Mirallas was sent off late on which may yet hurt Les Verts' chances of survival. Nice got a point from a draw with Sochaux, all but sealing the Ligue 1 status of both clubs for next season.

    Stuttering rivals hand Bayern initiative: Bundesliga reviews

    It's down to a two-horse race in Germany now as the Neverkusen curse overwhelmed the long-time leaders which leaves them six points adrift with five matches left. And Bayern seized the initiative in a crucial game last week. But we'll start with the previous round, round 28.

    Bochum 1-2 Eintracht
    Bayern 1-2 Stuttgart
    Hannover 1-4 Cologne
    Hertha 0-0 Dortmund
    Mainz 0-2 Wolfsburg
    Bremen 4-2 Nurnberg
    Leverkusen 0-2 Schalke
    Hoffenheim 1-1 Freiburg
    Monchengladbach 1-0 Hamburg

    Schalke went top after this round of fixtures after they eased to a two-goal win over Leverkusen. Kevin Kuranyi got both in the first half while Bayern went down to Stuttgart. Ivica Olic gave the Bavarians the lead, but goals either side of the break from Christian Trasch and Ciprian Marica gave the Swabians the spoils. Hamburg's challenge has hit the buffers and they went down to a single Roel Brouwers goal and now face a struggle to reach Europe at all as Dortmund, despite being held 0-0 by Hertha, and Bremen leapfrog them. Two early Per Mertesacker goals gave Werder the lead against Nurnberg and Tim Borowski made it three on the half hour. Mike Frantz pulled one back early in the second half and Eric Choupo-Moting another from the penalty spot. Torsten Frings' late dismissal set up a grandstand finish, but Clemens Fritz sealed it in stoppage time. Eintracht and Wolfsburg are both in the running for Europe as well after both won. Bochum were ahead through Lewis Holtby against Eintracht, but Marco Russ and Caio ensured the win. Edin Dzeko, inevitably, helped Die Wolfe to victory over Mainz. He got both within the last ten minutes.

    Hannover went down heavily again, 4-1 against Cologne for whom Zoran Tosic got two, while Hoffenheim denied Freiburg late on, Joe Simunic with an equaliser ten minutes from time after Mohamadou Idrissou had put the strugglers in front.

    Eintracht 3-2 Leverkusen
    Freiburg 1-1 Bochum
    Dortmund 2-1 Bremen
    Schalke 1-2 Bayern
    Nurnberg 2-0 Mainz
    Stuttgart 2-1 Monchengladbach
    Cologne 0-3 Hertha
    Wolfsburg 4-0 Hoffenheim
    Hamburg 0-0 Hannover

    After his heroics the previous week, Zoran Tosic turned villian, sent off late in the heavy defeat the Hertha. He was the second Colonge player dismissed, Youssef Mohamad having seen red earlier. They were two down by then, Raffael with both, and Cicero wrapped it up. It still looks an impossible job to avoid the drop though. Hannover got a point despite Jiri Stajner's red card, but still look favourites to join Hertha in Bundesliga 2 next season. Freiburg also remain in trouble, though they too picked up a point against Bochum. Demba Cissé put them in front, but Christoph Dabrowski equalised for an important point for Bochum. They're now three points clear of the bottom three, but haven't been in good form. They're there to be shot at. So are Nurnberg, but they're going in the right direction now after beating Mainz for whom Andreas Ivanschitz was sent off four minutes into the contest. Mike Frantz and Eric Choupo-Moting gave Nurnberg the win.

    Big game of the week was in Gelsenkirchen where Bayern seized the league lead despite playing the entire second half a man short. Franck Ribéry and Thomas Muller struck in the space of a couple of minutes midway through the first half to establish a lead, but Kevin Kuranyi pulled one back and Hamit Altiptop was sent off five minutes from half time. Try as they might, Schalke just couldn't break Bayern down and it ended ten-a-side when Marcelo Bordon was sent off late on. Leverkusen lost again despite taking the lead with a Stefan Kiessling double after Selim Teber's penalty gave Eintracht the lead. But Daniel Schwaab was sent off shortly after half-time and Caio and, two minutes from time, Maik Franz, turned the game around to give Eintracht the win. Dortmund beat Bremen in the battle of the Europa League challengers, Kevin Grosskreutz and rumoured Arsenal target Neven Subotic giving them the lead and they held on after Aaron Hunt reduced the arrears with 25 minutes to go. Stuttgart still harbour hopes of European football and won again despite going behind to Gladbach and Marco Reus. Ciprian Marica and, with time ticking down, Zdravko Kuzmanovic turned it around. And Wolfsburg might still have a say, Edin Dzeko again getting two as they easily beat a disappointing Hoffenheim side.

    Wednesday, 7 April 2010

    Status quo still intact: Eredivisie reviews

    The Eredivisie is still FC Twente's to lose. The top three just keep rolling along and little has changed on the table since our last round-up. We'll have a quick look back at rounds 29 and 30 as we catch up following a busy period.

    NAC 3-0 Den Haag
    AZ 3-2 Heracles
    Roda 4-2 Heerenveen
    Vitesse 2-1 Willem II
    Twente 3-0 Sparta
    NEC 0-0 Feyenoord
    Ajax 3-0 Groningen
    Utrecht 2-0 Waalwijk
    VVV Venlo 2-4 PSV
    Feyenoord 2-1 Vitesse

    Bryan Ruiz hit a four-minute hat-trick as Twente saw off Sparta. After his first, Milano Koenders was sent off and the Costa Rican Ruiz converted the penalty for number two. And the hat-trick, his first in Dutch football, was complete seconds later. Ajax maintained the gap at four points with a comfortable win over Groningen, Jan Vertoghen thumping in two towering headers and the prolific Siem de Jong on target, while PSV kept the pressure on by sticking four past VVV Venlo. Otman Bakkal, the second from a stupidly tight angle. Feyenoord are in danger of losing their long-held fourth place after being held by NEC while AZ beat Heracles thanks to a Jeremain Lens hat-trick. Waalwijk are all but down after defeat to Utrecht and it's two from three for the play-off spots. NEC are still in bother, as are Willem II, Den Haag and Sparta.

    VVV Venlo 0-2 Twente
    AZ 2-0 Utrecht
    Roda 5-1 Waalwijk
    Vitesse 3-0 Groningen
    Heerenveen 4-1 Sparta
    Den Haag 0-1 Ajax
    Feyenoord 0-0 NAC
    Heracles 2-0 NEC
    Willem II 0-1 PSV

    Ruiz was on target again for Twente, grabbing a late second after Blaise N'Kufo set them on the way to a win over VVV. Ajax weren't so good this week, scoring just the one in a below-par performance in Den Haag. Only after Barry Ditewig was sent off did Ajax look likely and Toby Alderweireld snatched the win seconds from time. PSV weren't on song either, but a late Balázs Dzsudzsák penalty helped them beat Willem II. Feyenoord dropped more points despite winning their game in hand against Vitesse thanks to a goalless draw against NAC, allowing AZ - 2-0 winners over Utrecht - to close in further, the gap back to just two points. Roda hammered five more nails into Waalwijk's coffin - they've been truly awful this season - while NEC - beaten by two late Samuel Armenteros goals in Almelo - and Sparta - hammered by ten-man Heerenveen - are also in the mire along with Den Haag.

    Elsewhere, it much of a muchness. Heracles and Utrecht swapped positions as a result of the round 30 games, but that's the only change in position on the table in two weeks.