European Weekend (14-16 December)
Hello, there, football fanatics. Time for a new review, as, you saw it: a new round in the most important championships in European football, had new developments as this half of the season is nearing its closure.
Premier League had the headlines of European football this weekend, with the Liverpool teams facing off against the Manchester sides in two games holding a big importance in the fight for the league title. It was literally Red vs Red and Blue vs Blue this EPL matchday, albeit with small surprises due to the standings of the fore mentioned teams. Undoubtedly, the derby between Liverpool F.C. and Manchester United was the most expected game this weekend, with the Scousers up against their Old Trafford rivals in order to maintain their slim lead over the Premier League table. Liverpool won their first big test in the following period by defeating Manchester United 3-1 on Anfield, thus keeping a small lead, with 45 points and an unbeaten run of 17 games in a row. Second-placed Manchester City won in a simillar manner, 3-1 on Ettihad, against Everton, and are keeping the pressure for a return on the first place, with 44 points. London teams had a fairly decent display overall this matchday, with Tottenham retaining its third place, with 39 points, after a 1-0 win over Burnley on Wembley, while Chelsea won its away game with Burnley by 2-1, two points behind rivals Spurs; however, Unai Emery’s Arsenal, as usual, was the biggest disappointment, having lost 2-3 in their away game with Southampton, and remain on 5th place as a result, three points behind rivals Chelsea and 5 points behind Northern London rivals Tottenham. Manchester United remain on 6th following their loss in the derby with Liverpool, with Wolverhampton Wanderers overcoming the now 8th placed Everton to close the gap with the Devils to only one point.
On the relegation side, with the win against Arsenal, Southampton managed to climb on the last safe place, while Burnley fell on 18th; both tied with 12 points. 19th place is Huddersfield Town, with 10 points, defeated by Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United. Fulham retains its last place following a 0-2 defeat to West Ham United.
Leaders Juventus have taken another big step towards their 8th consecutive Scudetto after a 1-0 win in the Derby della Molle, against local rivals Torino, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the only goal of the match, retaining their unbeaten run and reigning atop Serie A with 46 points. 8 points behind, Napoli stays on second place after a 1-0 win over Cagliari, while Inter, 6 points behind Napoli, remains on third after a similar 1-0 home win versus Udinese. Fourth placed Milan, another 6 points behind cross city rivals Inter, are yet to play against Bologna and earn the chance, a win would reduce the gap to 3 points. Lazio lost it’s chance to climb up on 4th, even temporarily, by losing 0-1 to Atalanta, who find themselves on the 6th place, and reducing the gap between the two teams to only one point. Fallen on 7th place, Roma had earned a tough victory with Genoa, 3-2 on Olimpico. The gap remains a small 3 points between 8th placed Sassuolo (2-0 against Frosinone) and 12th placed Parma (0-2 with Sampdoria), meaning Sassuolo, Sampdoria, Fiorentina, Torino and Parma all have their respective chances to hope for an European spot, which is the only competitive thing about this season’s Serie A, apart from the fight to avoid relegation.
Speaking of which, 17th placed Udinese find themselves threatened by any positive result first relegation spot seated Bologna could possibly earn against Milan, while Frosinone and Chievo look like certain victims.
Barcelona’s not so comfortable lead atop La Liga was kept going by a stunning 5-0 win over Levante, the team being first place with 34 points. Second placed Sevilla, 31 points, won against Girona (2-0), while third placed Atletico Madrid struggled to get the away win against Real Valladoid, 3-2, with the two teams being tied on points. Real Madrid had been reaffirming their slow attempts on revival with a 1-0 win against fellow Madrid side Rayo Vallecano, ending up at fourth place, two points behind city rivals Atletico. Real Betis retain the 5th place following a 3-1 win in Barcelona against Espanyol, while Deportivo Alaves starts showing a poor display of form, not helped by their blank draw with Athletic Bilbao. Meanwhile, Getafe has climbed the 7th place after a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad, and closed the gap with Alaves to one point, also taking advantage of Levante’s loss, which left them on 8th place.
At the relegation zone, we find Villareal and Athletic Bilbao, tied on points, and sadly, two sides who’ve been battling their way into Europa League in the latest seasons. Villareal earned only one point from a 2-2 draw with last placed Huesca, while Bilbao, as mentioned earlier, earned one themselves with Deportivo Alaves. Meanwhile, Rayo Vallecano and Huesca look like almost certain victims of relegation at this point.
Bundesliga & Ligue 1
Few matches have been played in Ligue 1, and none in the Bundesliga at the time of writing this article. I will be back with updates regarding these two championships after their respective matchdays are finished. With the mention that much changes in Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund’s dominations in their respective leagues can’t be yet affected, especially in regards to PSG. However, some things might occur regarding the relegation spots and the battle for a place in the UEFA Europa League.
P.S.: A review about the UCL draws is also underway.