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Across the Continent: European football weekend review- Easter special


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

Another weekend and another victory for Real Madrid, this time beating Athletic Club 2-0 at the Bernabéu, courtesy of Rodrygo’s brace.

Confusingly, Real Madrid were donning an all purple kit because... reasons... forcing Athletic to wear all white at the Bernabéu, which is totally unacceptable and should see them stripped of their soon to be crowned title.

That aside, Carlo Ancelotti’s team remain eight points clear at the top, unbeaten in 24 La Liga matches, looking strong ahead of their next fixture, the small matter of a clash with Manchester City.

Elsewhere, all of the top four were victorious on Easter weekend, with Raphinha’s goal seeing Barcelona beat Las Palmas 1-0 at Montjuïc, after goalkeeper Álvaro Valles was sent off for one of the most overt fouls you’re ever likely to see.

Across Catalonia, on Sunday, Girona beat Real Betis 3-2 at Montilivi, thanks to Cristhian Stuani’s stoppage time winner.

This result confirmed that Blanquivermells have qualified for UEFA competition for the first time ever, with Míchel’s men hoping this’ll be in the Champions League, now nine points clear of fifth.

On Monday night, Atlético Madrid secured only their second away win in ten, thanks to Saúl Ñíguez’s late strike that saw Diego Simeone’s side down Villarreal 2-1 at Estadio de la Cerámica.

This saw Atleti leapfrog Athletic into fourth, although there is just a two point gap between the pair, who will meet at the Metropolitano on 27 April, so the race for a top four finish is very much on.

In truth, it wasn’t a particularly thrilling weekend of La Liga action, with only 17 goals scored, 29% of which came in the Girona game we’ve already mentioned.

At the bottom, Cádiz’s resurgence means there might be a proper relegation battle, with el Submarino Amarillo making it back-to-back home wins by defeating Granada 1-0 on Friday night.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s team remain in the drop zone, but are closing in on both Celta Vigo and Rayo Vallecano, who drew 0-0 with each-other at Balaídos on Sunday.

Sevilla eased their own relegation concerns by beating Getafe 1-0 at the Coliseum, as Sergio Ramos marked his 38th birthday by scoring the only goal.

Jagoba Arrasate, who’s done fantastic work at Osasuna since joining in 2018, announced he will depart at the end of the season, with los Rojillos commencing his farewell tour by smashing bottom of the table Almería 3-0.

Looking ahead to this week in the world of Spanish football, there’s not a lot on the menu, with the rearranged game between Granada and Valencia taking place on Thursday, although neither have much to play for.

Then, there are no league fixtures next weekend, as the Copa del Rey Final is given all the spotlight, with Athletic Club and Mallorca meeting at Estadio de La Cartuja on Saturday night.

This porosity of league action gives Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid plenty of preparation time, ahead of their upcoming Champions League quarter-finals.

Serie A

This weekend’s Serie A fixtures all took place on either Saturday or Monday, with no games on Easter Sunday, as tradition dictates.

No matter when matches are played, where or against whom, Internazionale Milano will pick up three points, this time comfortably swatting aside Empoli 2-0; Federico Dimarco and Alexis Sánchez the scorers.

Simone Inzaghi’s side therefore remain 14 points clear at the top, having not lost in the league since 27 September, so could rubber stamp a 20th Scudetto in the upcoming Derby della Madonnina on 22 April.

Rivals A.C. Milan are Inter’s nearest challengers, after I Rossoneri beat Fiorentina 2-1 on Saturday night, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leão on target, as Stefano Pioli’s side enjoyed a fourth successive win.

Things are not going so well meanwhile over at Juventus, this time defeated 1-0 by Lazio, with la Vecchia Signora in serious danger of slipping out the top four, having won only one of their last nine.

Massimiliano Allegri’s team still have to play five other members of the top ten, with many supporters calling for his head, given that I Bianconeri’s current trajectory is only going one way.

Bologna enhanced their own top four chances by smashing Salernitana 3-0 on Monday morning, now five points clear of Roma, after Daniele De Rossi’s side could only draw with Lecce later that day.

Elsewhere in the European race, Napoli’s miserable campaign continued, this time swatted aside 3-0 by Atalanta, as Gian Piero Gasperini’s side look good ahead of their Europa League tie with Liverpool.

At the bottom, Sassuolo were plunged further in the mire by only managing a 1-1 draw with Udinese, although just five points seperate second-bottom I Neroverdi and Lecce who are up in 13th.

This mid-week, the Coppa Italia semi-final first legs take place, starting on Tuesday as Juventus and Lazio go head-to-head for the second time in four days, this time in Turin.

24 hours later, Fiorentina welcome Atalanta to the Artemio Franchi, with I Viola dreaming of winning this competition for the first time since 2001, while la Dea have not hoisting aloft this trophy since 1963.

bet365
bet365

Under 2.5 goals

Juventus vs Lazio


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Both teams to score

Fiorentina vs Atalanta


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At 3/2, a £10 bet would return £25

Coppa Italia double of the week

Bundesliga

Usually, der Klassiker is one of the most important fixtures on the European football calendar and, while this weekend’s clash didn’t have anywhere near as much importance as recent encounters, it produced plenty of discussion points.

On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund claimed their first victory at Allianz Arena for a decade, with Karim Adeyemi on target early, before Julian Ryerson fired home a second later on, securing a 2-0 win.

That’s a fourth successive Bundesliga win for die Schwarzgelben, enhancing their top four chances, but the far bigger story surrounds Bayern Munich.

Die Roten have now lost five Bundesliga matches this season, their highest tally since 2011/12, the last time someone else picked up the Meisterschale, and Bayern’s 11-years of dominance will surely come to an end.

All Thomas Tuchel’s team have left to play for is the Champions League, and Bayern are looking vulnerable to say the least, ahead of their quarter-final clash with Arsenal, coming up next Tuesday.

Back in the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen have never hoisted aloft the Salatschüssel before, but that’ll be changing soon, given that die Werkself are 13 points clear with only seven games remaining.

On the weekend when Xabi Alonso announced he will stay at die Schwarzroten this summer, they snatched an eight successive league win in dramatic fashion, beating Hoffenheim 2-1, with Robert Andrich equalising in the 88th minute, before Patrik Schick won it in stoppage time.

If the top two keep on winning, Bayer will wrap up a first-ever title at Westfalenstadion on 20 April, although they may have done so sooner, given Bayern’s tendency to drop points.

Away from the title race, third-placed Stuttgart were involved in a crazy 3-3 draw with Heidenheim on Sunday, Deniz Undav’s 98th minute goal salvaging a draw, although die Schwaben remain in a strong position to end their 15-year Champions League exile.

In further good news for both Stuttgart and Dortmund, RB Leipzig were held to a shock goalless draw by Mainz, which is certainly two points dropped for Marco Rose’s side, given that die Nullfünfer are in the drop zone.

All of the bottom three drew this weekend, although this doesn’t help Mainz, Köln or Darmstadt’s respective causes very much, given that the former, who occupy the relegationsspiele spot, are six points from safety.

This mid-week, the DFB-Pokal semi-finals take place, although only one of the four teams involved ply their trade in the top division.

Of course, this is run-away league-leaders Bayer, who are still yet to lose in any competition this season, ahead of their clash with Fortuna Düsseldorf, who sit third in the second-tier, at BayArena on Wednesday.

First up, on Tuesday, Saarbrücken a seeking to become only the fourth 3.Liga team in history to reach the Pokal Final, after Hertha BSC Amateure (1993), Energie Cottbus (1997) and Union Berlin (2001).

In this remarkable run, Rüdiger Ziehl’s side have already knocked out Bayern Munich, Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach, so can they now dumped out 1996 winners Kaiserslautern, who are currently third-bottom of the Zweite Bundesliga, at Ludwigsparkstadion?

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bet365

Both teams to score

Saarbrücken vs Kaiserslautern


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Bayer Leverkusen half time/full time and over 2.5 goals

Bayer Leverkusen vs Fortuna Düsseldorf


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At 2/1 a £10 bet would return £34.36!

DFB-Pokal double of the week

Ligue 1

Two of the biggest fixtures in Ligue 1 both took place this weekend, with Paris Saint-Germain, as they always do these days, coming out on top in Sunday night’s le Classique.

Despite having Lucas Beraldo sent off after just 40 minutes at Stade Vélodrome, second half goals from Vitinha and Gonçalo Ramos saw PSG leave Marseille 2-0 winners, remaining 12 points clear at the top.

Back on Friday night, it was Lille who claimed three points in the Derby du Nord, with Edon Zhegrova’s brace downing fierce local rivals Lens 2-1 at Stade Pierre-Mauroy,

Les Dogues therefore remain fourth, three points below Monaco, who were also victorious over the weekend, with les Monégasques smashing Metz 5-2; Folarin Balogun the scorer of a brace.

However, both remain below Brest, who’ve never finished higher than eighth in the top-flight, but Eric Roy’s team are still second, with Romain Del Castillo’s late goal snatching a 1-0 victory at Lorient.

Champions League football at Stade Francis-Le Blé next season is becoming increasingly possible as every week goes by.

Nice remain fifth, despite a home defeat to Nantes, while Lyon, seeking to gatecrash the top seven, could only manage a 1-1 draw with Reims.

The new bottom four all lost this weekend, with Nantes’ aforementioned victory at Allianz Riviera seeing them climb out of the drop zone, prevailing in the first match of Antoine Kombouaré's second spell in charge.

This mid-week, it’s time for the Coupe de France semi-finals and first up, on Tuesday, Olympique Lyonnais should swat aside Valenciennes, given that the visitors are rock-bottom of Ligue 2.

Then, on Wednesday, it’s a repeat of the 2019 final, as Stade Rennais visit Parc des Princes.

Five years ago, Rennes defeating PSG on penalties, ending their 48-year wait for silverware, but most expect les Rouges-et-Bleus to prevail this time, thereby reaching an eighth final in ten seasons.

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bet365

Lyon to win, over 2.5 goals and both teams to score NO

Olympique Lyonnais vs Valenciennes


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Paris Saint-Germain to win and both teams to score

Paris Saint-Germain vs Stade Rennais


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At 8/1, a £10 bet would return £89.12

Coupe de France double of the week

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

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