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Across the Continent: European football weekend review- 26-28 January


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 Ligue 1.

La Liga

There’s only one place to start this week and that’s with Barcelona, who were involved in a truly chaotic game on Saturday night.

Amazingly, the Blaugrana fought back from 2-0 to lead 3-2 against Villarreal, scoring thrice in just 12 minutes, but that certainly wasn’t the end of the story.

Gonçalo Guedes equalised in the 84th minute before, deep into stoppage time, both Alexander Sørloth and then José Luis Morales were on target, as el Submarino Amarillo snatched a 5-3 victory.

This is the first time since 1963 that Barcelona have conceded five or more in a home La Liga game.

Afterwards, following crisis talks with president Joan Laporta, Xavi announced he will step down as head coach at the end of the season which, the way his team are going, is bold to assume he won’t have been sacked before then.

Earlier on Saturday, it appeared as though Real Madrid were going to be the story, 1-0 down to Las Palmas, only for goals from Vinícius Júnior and Aurélien Tchouaméni to see them leave the Canary Islands with the points.

However, it’s another weekend where Carlo Ancelotti’s team do not end it top, courtesy of Girona’s 1-0 victory at Celta Vigo in Sunday’s early kick off; Portu the match-winner at Balaídos.

Nevertheless, los Blancos will finally dislodge Girona from first place should they beat Getafe in their game in hand on Thursday.

Atlético Madrid moved up to third on Sunday night, albeit still ten points adrift their city rivals, by beating Valencia, with Samu Lino and then Memphis on target in a 2-0 win.

Neither Athletic Club or Real Sociedad could keep pace in the top four race, as the two Basque giants were both held to goalless draw by Cádiz and Rayo Vallecano respectively.

Down towards the bottom, Sevilla have still won just three times all season, following a 1-1 draw with Osasuna this weekend.

Los Nervionenses are winless in eight home league games, dating back to September, equalling the unwanted club record set in 1965, while they’re likely to break this, given that Atleti are the next visitors.

Still, at least they’re not Almería who, following a 3-0 home hammering by Alavés, have just six points after 22 matches, only the second side in La Liga history to not win a match this far into a campaign, the other being Sporting de Gijón in 1997/98, who ended that year with a measly 13 points.

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bet365

Barcelona to win and over 2.5 goals

Barcelona vs Osasuna


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Atlético Madrid to win and both teams to score NO

Atlético Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano


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Real Madrid to win

Getafe vs Real Madrid


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At 6/1, a £10 bet would return £73.18

La Liga acca of the midweek

Serie A

There was a serious twist in the Serie A title race this weekend, namely the fact Juventus slipped-up.

On Saturday, la Vecchia Signora were unable to secure a sixth successive Serie A victory, held to a 1-1 draw by Empoli.

Despite seeing Arkadiusz Milik sent off after just 16 minutes, Dušan Vlahović did fire I Bianconeri in front, only for Tommaso Baldanzi to equalise for the visitors soon after.

Massimiliano Allegri’s team are still unbeaten in September, but are now no longer top, with Inter leapfrogging them, courtesy of their 1-0 victory at Fiorentina on Sunday night.

Lautaro Martínez, who else, the only scorer at Stadio Artemio Franchi.

I Nerazzurri’s points tally of 54 after 21 matches represents their second best-ever start to the season, only bettered by the 57 points they had at this stage of 06/07, winning the title with 97 points back then.

The destination of this year’s Scudetto is still a long way from being decided, although we’ll have a much clearer idea as to who has the edge this time next week, given that Inter and Juve meet on Sunday night in an eagerly anticipated Derby d’Italia at San Siro.

Just below the top two, A.C. Milan’s winning run came to an end, held to a 2-2 draw by Bologna, despite seeing Ruben Loftus-Cheek bag a brace.

Lazio and Napoli played out a dire goalless draw at Stadio Olimpico, emphasising the issues both clubs are experiencing right now.

Lastly, Daniele De Rossi’s Roma travel to rock bottom Salernitana on Monday night, knowing a win would propel I Giallorossi up three places into fifth.

Bundesliga

Over in the Bundesliga, the leaders slipped up too, with Bayer Leverkusen held to a goalless draw by Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday night.

Die Schwarzroten had 69 touches in the Gladbach penalty area, the most of any team in a Bundesliga match since records began, but Xabi Alonso’s side could not find that all-important breakthrough.

So, in the space of a week, Bayern Munich have closed the gap at the top from seven points down to two, first by beating Union Berlin on Wednesday, before another narrow victory on Saturday, this over Augsburg.

Aleksandar Pavlović, Alphonso Davies and Harry Kane scoring in the 3-2 Bavarian derby victory.

The top two are set to meet at BayArena as soon as 10 February.

Elsewhere, third and fourth went head-to-head this weekend, with Stuttgart claiming a statement 5-2 victory over RB Leipzig, with Deniz Undav’s hat-trick condemning Marco Rose’e side to a third straight defeat.

In contrast, Borussia Dortmund made it three wins out of three in 2024, swatting aside Bochum on Sunday, courtesy of Niclas Füllkrug’s treble.

Thanks to the exploits of both Undav and Füllkrug, this is the first time since 2000 that two Germans have scored hat-tricks on the same Bundesliga weekend, with Martin Max and Zoltán Sebescen the most-recent duo to achieve this.

Back in the present day, Dortmund have leapfrogged Leipzig into fourth, while Eintracht Frankfurt are also in the mix for Champions League qualification, following Friday’s 1-0 win over Mainz.

At the bottom, Benedict Hollerbach’s crucial goal saw Union Berlin beat Darmstadt on Sunday, pulling die Eisernen five points clear of trouble.

Köln’s draw at Wolfsburg takes them onto 12 points, but die Geißböcke, Mainz and Darmstadt, both of whom have 11, look set to remain the bottom three, unless something drastic changes.

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bet365

St. Pauli to win and over 2.5 goals

St. Pauli vs Fortuna Düsseldorf


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Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals

Hertha BSC vs Kaiserslautern


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At 4/1, a £10 bet would return £47.72

DFB-Pokal double of the midweek

Ligue 1

Lastly, in Ligue 1, two of the top three went head-to-head on Sunday night, but it was a forgettable one for Paris Saint-Germain.

Les Rouges-et-Bleus were widely expected to swat Brest aside at Parc des Princes, very much on course to do this by half time, leading 2-0, with Marco Asensio and Randal Kolo Muani the scorers.

However, Mahdi Camara equalised soon after the break before, with ten minutes to go, Mathias Pereira Lage’s equaliser stunned Paris into silence, salvaging a draw for this season’s surprise package.

PSG do remain unbeaten in 14 league matches, winning 11 of them, so are still six points clear at the top, but Luis Enrique’s side continue to be unimpressive.

In contrast, Stade Brestois have never finished higher than eighth in the top-flight, achieving this in 1987, but Eric Roy’s team are very much in the mix for European football, possibly even a Champions League spot.

In-between these two are Nice, who closed the gap at the top by beating Metz on Saturday, with Evann Guessand’s late penalty the only goal at Allianz Riviera.

Later in the day, Marseille and Monaco played out a fiery 2-2 draw, in which Guillermo Maripán and Denis Zakaria were both sent off for the visitors, who therefore did well to leave Stade Vélodrome with a point.

On Friday night, Lyon’s survival hopes suffered a serious blow, beaten by Rennes at home, going 3-0 down in the first half, fighting back to 3-2, but unable to find the equaliser.

Pierre Sage’s side remain in the relegation play-off spot and, up next, it’s the Choc des Olympiques, with Marseille the visitors to Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday night.

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".