Around Europe: Leipzig for Europe?

How do you experience football from four of Europe’s top leagues from the comfy spot of your sofa and it only taking 20 minutes of your time? You come and read the Behind the Goal weekly European review. Our European globetrotter Daniel Statham brings you the best, and the worst from the European action.

There’s only one place to start this week’s European round up, and that’s with Germany’s most marmite team, RB Leipzig. The minnows hailing from the Saxony area of Germany have qualified for the Champions League, pending a UEFA ruling. The reason there is a question mark over their participation is because two teams under the same ownership cannot be in the same competition (with Red Bull Salzburg looking likely to qualify for the Champions League too). Their top 4 finish was confirmed by a 4-0 tonking of SC Freiburg. This has completed Leipzig’s remarkable rise, from the fourth division to Champions League in four years, but it looks likely that they will miss out on the title. Bayern Munich failed to get past a stubborn Bayer Leverkusen, who had Bernd Leno to thank for their point. The reigning Champs remain 8 points clear of Leipzig, looking destined for another title (which would be their 26th).

Hoffenheim have continued their good season with a 5-3 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Hungarian hitman Adam Szalai hit a brace in the victory. They sit one point above Borussia Dortmund who beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1, with goals from Marco Reus, Sokratis and Aubameyang giving them victory. Wolfsburg eased their relegation fears with a 3-0 win over second bottom Ingolstadt, whilst bottom club Darmstadt beat Schalke 2-1.

Other results: Augsburg 2-1 Koln, Mainz 1-0 Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen 2-1 Hamburger SV.

 

To Italy, and specifically Milan. The San Siro was brimming for the second renewal of the Milan derby this season. Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi had seemingly wrapped up the points for Inter until two late goals from defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Cristian Zapata gave Milan a share of the spoils and ensured Inter stayed below them in the table. Zapata’s goal came in the 97th minute.

Juventus continued their title charge with a 2-0 win over Pescara, a brace from Gonzalo Higuain gave them the victory, although to tell you the truth, Juventus could have had many more, as could Higuain. 2nd placed Roma dropped points at home to Atalanta, Edin Dzeko cancelled out Jasmin Kurtic’s opener for the away team. Napoli picked up points on Roma following a 3-0 win over Udinese, the goals came from Mertens, Allan and Jose Callejon (the latter who became the fourth player to score 10 or more goals this season, alongside Dries Mertens, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne). The win takes them to within 2 points of Roma.

Lazio played out a 2-2 draw at Genoa to fall further behind Napoli and Roma, but keeping ahead of Atalanta.

Other scores on the doors: Palermo 0-0 Bologna, Torino 0-0 Crotone, Fiorentina 1-2 Empoli, Cagliari 4-0 Chievo and Sassuolo 2-1 Sampdoria.

 

In Spain it was the penultimate match day before the El Classico, arguably the most important in recent history, as it could decide the title. Barcelona and Real Madrid both struggled this weekend against their respective rivals, Barcelona were at home to Real Sociedad, they won the game 3-2 surviving a scare with goals from Lionel Messi (2) and Paco Alcacer saw them past Sociedad (Umtiti OG and Xabi Prieto). They followed up Real Madrid’s narrow win over relegation candidates Sporting Gijon. Sporting twice took the lead through Cop and Vesga, only to have Isco (2) and Morata pull them back and eventually beat them in the dying embers of the match.

3rd placed Atletico eased past Osasuna to continue their good form in the league. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco scored a brace and Flipe Luis added the third in a 3-0 win. Simeone will be hoping their good performance will be carried over into their European engagements. Fourth placed Sevilla took on Valencia at the Mestalla. Sevilla managed to stop Valencia’s good run, but were unable to get past them and fell further behind Atleti. In the other major talking point in La Liga, Tony Adams’ Granada had their “arses kicked” by Celta Vigo. The eccentric ex-England and Arsenal centre half’s side failed to “keep the ball out of their net and stick it in the oppositions” as Adams had so eloquently planned. Granada remain seven points away from safety following Leganes’ defeat to Espanyol (1-0). Sporting also lost, and Alaves beat Villarreal on Monday (2-1) to all but confirm their safety. Real Betis beat high flying Eibar to steer clear of the bottom 3, goals from Jonas Martin and Dani Ceballos helped ease their worries.

Other scores on the doors: Athletic Bilbao 5-1 Las Palmas and Deportivo 2-0 Malaga.

 

Crowd trouble marring games

There must be something about Lyon at the minute, their game against Besiktas in France was delayed because of fan trouble and clashes. Their game against Bastia this weekend was abandoned following fans storming the pitch and confronting their winger Memphis Depay. Talk about bad luck.

To Denmark, and more fan trouble. This weekend was the Copenhagen derby, where Brondby hosted FC Copenhagen, with the latter attempting to drive a real gap at the top of the tree. This game was also marred by fan problems, as Brondby fans threw dead rats onto the pitch at Copenhagen defender Ludwig Augustinsson as he went to take a corner. Copenhagen won the game 1-0 to open up a 13 point lead at the top.

 

French title race still wide open

Wins for both Monaco and PSG have kept the title race competitive in France. Monaco remain top currently, with a 3 point buffer back to the Parisiens, but with PSG no longer in Europe that could provide the key for who wins the title this season. Monaco beat Dijon 2-1, with goals from Falcao and Nabil Dirar. PSG beat Angers following a brace from Angel Di Maria. Nice are four points further back following their 3-1 win over Nancy. PSG were in action on Tuesday night as well, they beat Metz 3-2 following a last gasp winner from Blaise Matuidi, his second of the night. Edinson Cavani netted the early opener for PSG, but goals from Yann Jouffre and Cheick Diabate pinned the French champs back level, until Matuidi’s vital winner in the 93rd minute. Monaco are in action in the Champions League this evening, and now have a game in hand on Unai Emery’s men.

 

Liga Portuguesa title decided? 

Porto slipped up away from home against Sporting Braga. The fifth placed side held the multiple Champions to a 1-1 draw, as Benfica won 3-0 at home to Maritimo to increase their lead at the top to 3 points. Sporting Lisbon are back in third, 5 points behind Porto following a 3-0 win over Vitoria Setubal.

 

Eredivisie title hotting up

Only one point separates Ajax and Feyenoord at the top of the table, with the latter currently leading. After both won this week (5-1 and 2-0), only a point separates them, with only 3 match days remaining. Current champs PSV look unlikely to win unless the top two lose their next 3, but they could have a say in the title race as they face Ajax next week, with Feyenoord at Vitesse on the same day.

 

 

That concludes our whistle stop tour of the European action, only a day later than normal (blame the bank holiday, work and Portsmouth getting promoted for the delay). This evening, there is European clashes between Monaco and Dortmund (the French league leaders lead 3-2) and Barcelona v Juventus (where the Old Lady lead 3-0, surely Barca can’t do it again?).

There’s also action from the mickey mouse/sorry Europa League. Anderlecht play Manchester United at Old Trafford with the game levelled at 1-1, but Ibrahimovic was rested with this game in mind, and the away goal may be imperative. Elsewhere Lyon will travel to Turkey with a 2-1 lead over Besiktas. Ajax will travel to Schalke with a 2-0 lead and Celta Vigo travel to Genk with a 3-2 advantage. That’s it for me, we’ll be back on our normal day Tuesday, following this weekends action.