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European Round-Up | 17-20 February

Barcelona and SSC Napoli continue to coast in Spain and Italy respectively, while Lionel Messi gifted Paris Saint-Germain a vital late winner and Bayern Munich once again dropped points to set up a hotly contested title race in the Bundesliga.

Bundesliga

  • Biggest win: Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-2 Fußball-Club Bayern München
  • Shock result: 1. Fußballclub Union Berlin 0-0 Fußballclub Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04
  • Star Performance: Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Mönchengladbach) – one goal & two assists vs Bayern

An immensely entertaining title race has transpired in the top flight of German football this season as the Bundesliga remains highly competitive among its top echelons and that notion came to the fore this past weekend after Borussia Mönchengladbach fought to a massive 3-2 win over visiting Bayern Munich to open the door to a cadre of title rivals in 2023.

Borussia Dortmund, SC Freiburg, RB Leipzig, and Eintracht Frankfurt all took the opportunity to gain ground – or in Dortmund’s case, pull level – with the champions after a collection of wins against Hertha BSC, VfL Bochum, VfL Wolfsburg, and SV Werder Bremen respectively. The shock result of the weekend fell in Bayern’s favor, however, with the fairytale run of Union Berlin brought to a temporary halt in the capital after bottom-dwelling Schalke escaped with a point on their travels during a nil-nil affair at Stadion An der Alten Försterei.

Elsewhere, VfB Stuttgart earned a vital 3-0 win against 1.FC Köln to climb out of the bottom three, while TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s cataclysmic collapse continued in a 1-0 loss against FC Augsburg in Bavaria which now sees them level on points with 16th-placed Bochum but owning a better goal difference. Finally, 1.FSV Mainz 05 came away with a 3-2 win on the road against Bayer Leverkusen to leapfrog Xabi Alonso’s men back into the top half.

La Liga

  • Biggest win: Girona Futbol Club 6-2 Unión Deportiva Almería
  • Shock result: Real Sociedad de Fútbol 1-1 Real Club Celta de Vigo
  • Star Performance: Dani Rodríguez (Real Club Deportivo Mallorca) – two goals vs Villarreal Club de Fútbol

It was largely business as usual at the top of the Spanish football tier during another weekend of action across La Liga after Barcelona and Real Madrid booked three-point hauls against Cádiz CF and CA Osasuna respectively. Atlético Madrid and Real Betis also posted wins at the weekend with home results against Athletic Club (1-0) and Real Valladolid (2-1). To round out the top six, Real Sociedad was the victim of arguably the shock result of the round against Celta Vigo in Basque Country, while Rayo Vallecano was consigned to another draw, this time against Sevilla.

Real Mallorca, RCD Espanyol, and Girona offered the remaining three wins across the weekend program, with Mallorca and Girona bringing their shooting boots during a pair of wins by 4-2 and 6-2 scorelines against Villarreal and Almería respectively. Given the run of results, Barcelona looks to remain free and clear at the top of the La Liga table irrespectively of their struggles on the Champions League front, with Real Madrid sitting eight points adrift of their greatest rival but comfortably positioned in second as Sociedad sits a further eight points behind.

Ligue 1

  • Biggest win: Paris Saint-Germain 4-3 Lille Olympique Sporting Club
  • Shock result: Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise 2-1 Olympique Lyonnais
  • Star Performance: Habib Diallo (Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace) – two goals vs Angers Sporting Club de l’Ouest

A star-studded offering from Paris Saint-Germain trio Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, and Neymar once again provided the difference for the French champions as the Parisians returned to winning ways in a swashbuckling 4-3 win against visiting LOSC Lille. Despite Mbappé’s brace and Neymar’s direct contributions in two goals (one goal, one assist), it took a Messi free-kick in the fourth minute of stoppage time for Christophe Galtier’s men to extract the full complement of points on offer at Parc des Princes.

FC Lorient’s over-achieving continued with a 3-0 win against Corsican outfit AC Ajaccio which sees the Brittany-based outfit close to two points of a top-six place after Lille’s loss, while Montpellier, Strasbourg, and Auxerre all posted wins to boost their chances of hopefully avoiding relegation as Ligue 1 now features four guaranteed clubs to drop down the ladder come to the end of the season. Auxerre’s win over French giants Olympique Lyon also clocked in as the result of the round and their third-straight outing in which they collected points, with the Burgundians now just three points away from temporary safety.

Serie A

  • Biggest win: Football Club Internazionale Milano 3-1 Udinese Calcio
  • Shock result: Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio 1-2 Unione Sportiva Lecce
  • Star Performance: Ciro Immobile (Società Sportiva Lazio) – two goals vs Unione Sportiva Salernitana 1919

The Napoli title charge continues to roll on after another weekend that has left the region of Campania one step closer to just its third Serie A title and first since 1989-90 as Luciano Spalletti’s men ran out 2-0 winners on the road against Sassuolo, with – you guessed it – Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia both finding their way on the scoresheet as their collective influence remains the vital cog in the wheel.

Inter Milan, AS Roma, AC Milan, and Lazio all also posted three points on the results board in results against Udinese, Verona, Monza, and Salernitana respectively as six points separate the rest of the top six after 6th-placed Atalanta’s shock loss against visiting Lecce on Sunday.

Sanctioned Juventus and Tuscan Romagnan outfit Bologna were the only other sides to get themselves into the win column at the weekend, with The Old Lady climbing up the table despite their 15-point deduction on the back of a three-match winning run and closing the gap to the aforementioned Atalanta. Bologna sit level on points with Juve during their own credible season across 2022-23, with their win against former Serie A champions Sampdoria condemning the Genoese club to the growing prospect of relegation to Serie B.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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