• Tuesday, 13 March 2012

    That was the week that was #1

    Taking over from the Vague round-up, something a bit more in-depth...

    Last week was a European week with Barcelona and that Lionel Messi bloke grabbing all the headlines. That was a shame as APOEL's penalty shoot-out win over Lyon got a bit shouldered out of things and Athletic Club's trip to Manchester United in the Europa League was one of the games of the season. With APOEL reaching the quarters, Arsenal not quite managing to overturn the four-goal deficit against Milan and Chelsea 3-1 down going into this week's return leg against Napoli, Cyprus look likely to have more clubs in the quater-finals than England. Effort.

    Onto matters domestic and in Spain, the one-horse races for first, second and third places all remained exactly that, even if Valencia - in a lonely third - could only draw with Mallorca, chucking a two-goal lead away in the process. More pain for Villarreal against Getafe on Monday night. Their survival hinges on finding three clubs worse than them. Fortunately Racing, Sporting and Zaragoza combine to fit that bill rather well. The only real race is for fourth and Málaga have that spot this week, Athletic conspiring to lose at Osasuna.

    Napoli were stunning on Friday night in Serie A, thumping six past Cagliari. They conceded three though, a hat-trick for Joaquin Larrivey. Cagliari responded by sacking manager Davide Ballardini and re-hire former boss Massimo Ficcadenti who himself was sacked by the club four months ago. Clear? Milan won again to extend their lead at the top with Juventus - still unbeaten - only drawing in Genoa. Inter got back to winning ways against Chievo, but Ranieri is still on thin ice. The bottom three look done already, but Novara dented Udinese's Champions League hopes with something of a shock win.
    Wins for the top two in France leaves that battle as it was, but both pull clear of third-placed Lille who were beaten by Lyon. St Etienne sneak into fourth after a win over VA. Four points cover the bottom seven meaning squeaky bums all round. In Ligue 2, Monaco finally pulled themselves out of the bottom three. It's still too early to talk of a resurgence.

    The Eredivisie had one of it's bonkers weeks. Ajax went top briefly after a win of RKC Waalwijk, but AZ returned there in the late game on Sunday after beating Graafschap. PSV lost 3-1 at NAC Breda and fired Fred Rutten. Twente went and lost to NEC to stuff their chances of going top. Heerenveen also won to remain fifth, but a draw for Feyenoord sees them lose pace in sixth. AZ lead by three from Ajax, but one point covers second to fifth.

    Porto stuffed up in the Liga Zon Sagres, drawing at home to Academica. Benfica's win over Paços de Ferreira and Braga's win over Leiria brings them both within a point. Sporting are a yawning eleven points further back in fourth.

    Galatasaray are miles ahead in Turkey, likewise Basel in Switzerland. Olympiakos have opened up a bit of a gap in the Greek Super League after Panathinaikos were beaten by AEK. Legia opened up a bit of a gap in the Ekstraklasa after Slask were beaten by Korona. Warsaw derby next week.

    Finally, Germany. Dortmund were held in Augsburg to a goalless draw, but remain four points ahead of Bayern, 7-1 winners against an increasingly shambolic Hoffenheim. Gladbach could only draw with Freiburg and they lose ground; Schalke move within a point of the Foals by beating Hamburg. But it's 2.Bundesliga where the real fun is. Three points covers the top five, still. Paderborn were held 0-0 by Bochum, the only ones in the top five not to win. Greuther beat Alemannia to remain top by a point from Eintracht Frankfurt who stuck five past Hansa. Then come Fortuna, 3-1 winners over Erzebirge. All that heaped pressure on St Pauli to win on Monday night and they did, 1-0 over Karlsruhe who remain in deep trouble at the wrong end.

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