It’s been another busy weekend of European football, so here’s a recap of all the results, stories and talking points from La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Coupe de France.
Fair to say, it was an eventful weekend in La Liga, with 22 goals scored in four matches on Sunday.
In the afternoon slot, everyone expected Real Madrid to swat aside Almería at the Bernabéu, given that they away side still have not won a match all season.
Well, in a serious turn up for the books, la Unión were 2-0 up by half time, with Largie Ramazani stroking home after just 37 seconds, before Edgar González lashed in from long-range on the cusp of the interval.
But, soon after the break, referee Francisco Hernández Maeso awarded los Blancos a very contentious spot-kick, that Jude Bellingham converted, only for Sergio Arribas to make it 3-1, but no, this goal was disallowed by VAR due to an extremely inconspicuous foul in the build-up.
Vinícius Júnior’s then shouldered home an equaliser, another controversial decision, before, in the 99th minute, Dani Carvajal bundled over the line a dramatic winner.
Safe to say, Almería were not happy about all this, with head coach Gaizka Garitano sent off towards the end.
Post game, midfielder Gonzalo Melero said he felt as though “the game was stolen from us”, while right-back Marc Pubill believes “somebody decided that we could not win today”.
Despite this win, Carlo Ancelotti’s team were only top for five hours or so because, on Sunday night, Girona came from a goal down to hammer Sevilla 5-1 at Montilivi; Artem Dovbyk with a six-minute first half hat-trick.
Míchel’s men have still only lost once this season, this against Real Madrid in September, so remain a point clear of the 14-times European champions, albeit having played a game more.
Just below, Barcelona were also involved in a goal-fest on Sunday, beating Real Betis 4-2 at the Benito Villamarín, with Ferran Torres’ hat-trick in that game rather overshadowed by the day’s other events.
Atlético Madrid, now in fifth, travel to second-bottom Granada on Monday night, seeking to end a streak of four successive defeats away from home.
Speaking of the bottom, Sevilla’s aforementioned hammering in Catalonia leaves them just one point and one place above the relegation zone, having still only won three times all season, losing four on the spin.
Coming up this mid-week are the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, with the tie of the round coming from San Mamés where Athletic will fancy their chances of dumping out Barcelona.
There was a truncated fixture list from Serie A this weekend, with four clubs jetting off to Saudi Arabia for the Supercoppa Italiana.
The final between Inter and Napoli takes place in Riyāḍh tonight, Monday.
Back in Italy, depressingly, the biggest talking point was the racist abuse suffered by A.C. Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, which led to their away fixture against Udinese to be temporarily suspended.
I Bianconeri were leading 2-1 late on, only for I Rossoneri to fight back with Noah Okafor, in a serious moment of karma, scoring the 93rd minute winner.
Racism continues to be very prevalent issue in Serie A, possibly more than in any other major league, and nothing is being done to combat this issue that is making players feel uncomfortable and, if nothing else, is tarnishing the reputation of Italian football.
On the pitch, that was a fourth win on the spin for Stefano Pioli’s side who, after some dreadful form in October/November time, might just be back in the title race?
A team who certainly are in the hunt for the Scudetto are Juventus, capturing first place on Sunday night by hammering Lecce 3-0; Dušan Vlahović on target twice as his scoring spree continues.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men are now a point above Inter, having played a game more, with a huge Derby d’Italia to come at San Siro in a fortnight.
This time last week, all the headlines were about José Mourinho, following his somewhat out of the blue sacking by Roma last Tuesday.
Owners the Friedkin Group decided to appoint club legend Daniele De Rossi as interim manager until the end of the season and, on Saturday, he made a winning start to life in the Olimpico hot-seat.
Romelu Lukaku and Lorenzo Pellegrini on target in a much-needed 2-1 win over Hellas Verona.
One of the biggest upsets to happen anywhere in the world this season took place in Bavaria on Sunday where, against all odds, Bayern Munich were beaten 1-0 by Werder Bremen; Mitchell Weiser the match winner.
For context, this is just the eight time, with fans in attendance, die Roten have lost a home Bundesliga match since May 2015.
This though could be a damaging defeat for Thomas Tuchel’s team, who are now seven points off top spot, ahead of their game in hand which is at home to struggling Union Berlin on Wednesday.
As for leaders Bayer Leverkusen, they’ve now needed stoppage time winners to claim victory in both fixtures in the rückrunde, this time dramatically defeating RB Leipzig 3-2.
Xabi Alonso’s side came from behind twice at Red Bull Arena, with Piero Hincapié the last-gasp hero.
Die Schwarzroten are still unbeaten in all competitions, winning 24 of 27 matches, so could Leverkusen really win a first-ever meisterschale? If they do, this weekend will surely prove key.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund made it two wins out of two in 2024, hammering Köln 4-0 on Saturday night, with Donyell Malen the scorer of a brace.
Edin Terzić's team are now within touching distance of the top four because, as mentioned, Leipzig lost and so did Stuttgart, suffering a surprise 1-0 reverse at Bochum
Friday night’s relegation six-pointer between Mainz and Union Berlin was postponed due to snow, meaning the bottom three all have 11 points, after Darmstadt held Frankfurt to a 2-2 draw.
Coupe de France
It was Coupe de France weekend, with Sunday producing a couple of noteworthy shocks.
Holders Toulouse will not be retaining their trophy, after a 3-3 draw with third-tier FC Rouen, before being dumped out 12-11 on penalties.
Gabriel Suazo scored his first spot-kick, but missed his second, the only player to be unsuccessful after 24 penalties were taken.
Simultaneously, Will Still’s Reims, who are up to sixth in Ligue 1, were also ousted on penalties by a team from the third division, their exit at the hands of Sochaux-Montbéliard.
Aside from that, all the miss-matches went the way of the favourites, with Paris Saint-Germain swatting aside US Orléans 4-1, in which Kylian Mbappé was on target twice at Stade de la Source.
Nice ousted Girondins de Bordeaux and Monaco beat Rodez, while Lyon and Lille both narrowly overcame fourth-tier opposition.
Les Gones prevailed 2-1 at Bergerac Périgord on Friday night, while Hákon Arnar Haraldsson was the only scorer for les Dogues as they dumped out RC Paris.
Sunday night’s heavyweight clash was the third tie to go to penalties, with Stade Rennais knocking out Olympique Marseille 9-8 in the shootout; Samuel Gigot the only man to miss at Roazhon Park.
Ligue 1 returns on Friday with Lyon, currently in the relegation play-off spot, hosting Rennes.