Wednesday, December 9, 2009

European Leagues - Weekend Wrap and Champions League Preview

Some interesting results out of the major leagues in Europe this week, with the top of the table in England tightening, Valencia moving into third in Spain, and Juventus claiming a crucial 2-1 victory over Serie A leaders Inter Milan. And the final matches of the group-stage in the Champions League take place today and tomorrow.

The big story of the weekend out of Europe was Manchester City's 2-1 defeat of league-leaders Chelsea. It was Chelsea's first loss in 11 matches, and the win ended a horror run for City against Chelsea in which they had lost their past eight meetings. It was City's first win in the league for two-and-a-half months - they had endured a league-record seven consecutive draws. Their cross-city rivals Manchester United moved within two points of Chelsea at the top of the table with a comprehensive 4-0 thumping of West Ham. Arsenal's 2-0 win over Stoke put them third on Saturday, while Tottenham had the chance to overtake their old foe on the table if they could take all three points at Goodison Park on Sunday. Two goals to the good with 15 minutes to play, the Londoners looked set for victory, but a Saha- and Cahill-led comeback ensured the points were shared, leaving Spurs fourth and Everton 15th

It's as you were in the top two in La Liga, with Barcelona accounting for Deportivo la Coruña (3-1) and Real Madrid slotting four past Almeria (4-2). Valencia moved up to third with a 3-2 victory over Getafe, capitalising on Sevilla's 1-1 draw with Valladolid. In France, Bordeaux kept its four-point lead over Montpellier intact with a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain, while the match of the round was the seven-goal thriller between Lens and Lyon. A Lisandro López hat-trick couldn't stop Lens as Gervinho scored his second goal of the night in the 90th minute to hand the Northerners a memorable 4-3 victory. Lyon's season has failed to kick into gear after the incredible 5-5 draw with Marseille four weeks ago.

Inter's lead at the top of Serie A was cut to four points following their loss to Juventus and Milan's 3-0 rout of Sampdoria. Roma won the battle of the Italian capital, dispatching Lazio 1-0, to keep pace with the group vying for fourth spot - Roma, Fiorentina, Genoa and Sampdoria are all within one point of fourth-placed Parma. See the full Serie A table. Bayer Leverkusen's lead at the top of the German Bundesliga was cut to three points, as they were held to a goalless-draw at Hannover, and Bayern Munich and Schalke 04 were both victorious. Werder Bremen missed their opportunity to go within one point of Leverkusen as they too were held goalless, at Cologne. See the Bundesliga table in full.

Champions League Week 6
The group stage of the Champions League wraps up this week, with the pick of the matches Bayern Munich's trip to Turin to face Juventus. The German and Italian giants will play off for second-place in Group A behind Bordeaux: a draw would be enough to send Juventus through to the Round of 16. Marseille host Real Madrid, with the team from Southern France needing a win and FC Zürich to draw with or beat Milan - the Austrian minnows overcame the Italian giants at the San Siro earlier in the competition. The San Siro is the setting for the other crunch match of the round, with Inter hosting Russian surprise packet Rubin Kazan, with both teams locked on six points. They have identical records in the competition to this point, and the match promises to serve up all the drama synonymous with the Champions League. The Russian champions provided arguably the upset of the tournament this season by edging out Barcelona at the Camp Nou.

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