• Tuesday, 20 March 2012

    TW3 #2

    Needless to say, the footballing week was largely overshadowed by what happened to Fabrice Muamba at White Hart Lane. The news is good so far which comes as something of a relief to everyone, but it'll be a long road back and he'll need all the support he can get. Best of luck to him.

    On with the actual football then...

    Or not. Away fans were banned from attending Panathinaikos v Olympiakos after trouble flared at previous matches. It didn't stop trouble flaring. Indeed, running battles between fans and police and sections of the ground being set on fire caused the game to be abandoned. Yes, Panathinaikos fans setting fire to their own stadium. No, us neither. The big derby in Poland saw pretty much nothing happen except for a pair of bookings for Adam Kokoszka in a drab 0-0.

    Juventus finally broke out of their run of draws, sticking five past Fiorentina who are now in real trouble at the bottom. Juve are still unbeaten, but with Milan winning again, there remains a four-point gap and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is short odds to make it nine league titles in a row, an utterly maddening statistic. Napoli came back from 2-0 down to snatch a draw with Udinese which, coupled wth Lazio's defeat to Catania, sees the three teams vying for third split by a single point.

    There might yet be a title race in Spain, but it looks a long shot. Some routine Messi brilliance - one of those chips only he seems able to do - saw Barcelona ease past Sevilla and a late Santi Cazorla free-kick - and what a free-kick, goal of the week even - earned Málaga a draw at the Bernabéu. The gap is down to eight. Not exactly game on, but in the context of the season, about as exciting as it gets. Roberto Soldado's hat-trick saw Valencia beat Athletic who are finding it tough to back up after European games and Levante are back into that fourth Champions League spot this week.

    Lyon won the big derby in France, a late Bafétimbi Gomis goal enough to beat St Etienne and leapfrog them in the chase for European football. However Toulouse leapt over them both with a win over Rennes the following day. Neither of the top two won, but Lille are still seven points behind second-placed Montpellier.

    Wins for the top three in Portugal sees them remain split by a single point and it's all back on in Holland as AZ were held by NAC and Twente were beaten by Feyenoord. PSV hit five past Heerenveen who need to start taking points off the other top sides to stay in contention. Ajax are the form side with a fifth win on the bounce to beat ADO. Twente play their game in hand against De Graafschap this week.

    Draws elsewhere in Argentina mean that Boca's victory over San Martín moves them to second, a point behind Tigre who drew with Estudiantes. In Primera B, River Plate had goals from David Trézéguet and Fernando Cavénaghi in a 3-0 win over Deportivo Merlo, but they still trail Instituto, 3-1 winners over Characrita Juniors, by a point. Staying in South America, Universidad de Chile came from 2-down to beat Unión Espanola 3-2, Manuel Ruidiaz with a late winner, to remain clear at the top.

    Finally, to Germany where Bayern couldn't make it three games in a row scoring seven. They only - only - put six past a horrible Hertha BSC outfit who really didn't seem to know what they were doing. There were also wins for Dortmund, Schalke and Gladbach, so it's very much as you were. In 2.Bundesliga, there were defeats for Paderborn - a 5-0 thumping from Ingolstadt - and St Pauli while Fortuna were held by Energie Cottbus. That's allowed Greuther, who thumped 1860 to all but end any chance they had, and Eintracht Frankfurt, big winners over Dynamo Dresden, to pull clear.

    There are lots of midweek games too with a full programme in Spain and cup matches all over the place and that postponed league game in Holland. The Copa Libertadores continues as well with the start of the fourth round of matches in the group stage. There's the Asian Champions League and the second semi-final of the NextGen series where Inter and Marseille under-19s vie for the right to face Ajax in the final.

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