Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
The game of the weekend, and quite possibly the game of the year, takes place at Camp Nou Monday afternoon. But contrary to what the hype surrounding Barcelona v. Real Madrid might have you believe, there were other matches played in Europe this weekend, and some of them were quite entertaining.
In England, Dimitar Berbatov turned in what may prove to be his signature performance in a Man United shirt, scoring five goals in the Red Devils' 7-1 rout of Blackburn. The win moved United to the top of the Premiership after Chelsea drew 1-1 at Newcastle. The Blues' three-match winless streak has left them stuck on 29 points, ahead of Arsenal only on goal differential after the Gunners' 4-2 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.
While Chelsea's winless streak continued, Inter Milan's finally ended on Sunday with a 5-2 win against Parma. Dejan Stankovic had a hat-trick for Inter, which climbed back into the Serie A top five with the victory. Meanwhile, Inter's derby rivals AC Milan was held to a 1-1 draw at Sampdoria. The Rossoneri weren't punished for their stumble, however, as their nearest rivals Lazio slumped to a 1-1 draw with Catania.
Blowouts were the order of the weekend in Germany, with Mainz, Hannover, and Werder Bremen all earning 3-0 victories, while Bayern Munich and leaders Dortmund defeated their opponents 4-1. But the biggest margin of victory on the weekend came for Kaiserslautern, which destroyed Jermaine Jones' Schalke 5-0.
In France, defending champs Marseille dropped Montpellier 4-0 to go top of Ligue 1. Marseille lead on goal differential after Lille managed only a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux. Both teams have 25 points, but Marseille have a game in hand.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores in Europe's top leagues:
For the first time all season, every team scored at least one goal during a round of fixtures. For some clubs, getting on the scoreboard was fairly meaningless. Blackburn was down 7-0 before Christopher Samba finally put Rovers on the board in the 83rd minute. For other clubs, avoiding a clean sheet also meant avoiding slipping into the relegation zone. Clint Dempsey's fifth goal of the season in the 53rd minute gave Fulham a 1-1 draw with Birmingham and kept the Cottagers one point clear of Wigan in the Premier League's final safety spot.
Newcastle United 1, Chelsea 1
Tottenham 2, Liverpool 1
Aston Villa 2, Arsenal 4
Bolton 2, Blackpool 2
Everton 1, West Bromwich Albion 4
Fulham 1, Birmingham City 1
Manchester United 7, Blackburn 1
Stoke City 1, Manchester City 1
West Ham United 3, Wigan Athletic 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, Sunderland 2
With the top two clubs in La Liga, and probably the world, preparing for their Monday afternoon showdown, some of Spain's lesser clubs got a chance to step into the spotlight over the weekend. Third-placed Villarreal turned in another impressive performance, defeating last-placed Real Zaragoza 3-0. Meanwhile, Barcelona's other club, Espanyol, defeated Madrid's other club, Atletico, 3-2 to keep its hold on La Liga's final Champions League place.
Real Zaragoza 0, Villarreal 3
Sevilla 1, Getafe 3
Atletico Madrid 2, Espanyol 3
Mallorca 2, Malaga 0
Racing Santander 1, Deportivo La Coruna 0
Sporting Gijon 1, Real Sociedad 3
Hercules 3, Levante 1
Athletic Bilbao 1, Osasuna 0
Valencia 2, Almeria 1
Today: Barcelona v. Real Madrid
The top four clubs in Serie A all dropped points on the weekend, with AC Milan, Lazio, and Juventus all drawing their opponents 1-1. Meanwhile, Napoli lost 3-1 at Udinese to fall to fourth place. These results, combined with wins for Inter and Palermo, have tightened the race for Italy's last two Champions League berths. With 24 points each, Juve and Napoli currently hold third and fourth places, respectively. After this weekend's fixtures, Inter and Palermo are tied on 23 points. Palermo visits Napoli next Monday in a match with significant implications for both clubs' seasons.
Sampdoria 1, AC Milan 1
Juventus 1, Fiorentina 1
Inter Milan 5, Parma 2
Bari 1, Cesena 1
Bologna v. Chievo (postponed)
Brescia 0, Genoa 0
Lazio 1, Catania 1
Udinese 3, Napoli 1
Cagliari 3, Lecce 2
Palermo 3, AS Roma 1
Borussia Dortmund still leads the Bundesliga by seven points after its 4-1 win over Michael Bradley's Borussia Moenchengladbach, which is still floundering at the bottom of the German table. Bradley's fellow American Jermaine Jones is also locked in a relegation battle. His club, Schalke 04, fell 5-0 at Kaiserslautern on Saturday, and now sits in 15th place, just one point clear of the relegation zone on 13 points.
Mainz 05 3, Nurnberg 0
Hamburg 4, VfB Stuttgart 2
Kaiserslautern 5, Schalke 04 0
Bayern Munich 4, Eintracht Frankfurt 1
Hannover 96 3, SC Freiburg 0
Hoffenheim 2, Bayer Leverkusen 2
Borussia Dortmund 4, Borussia Moenchengladbach 1
Werder Bremen 3, St. Pauli 0
FC Cologne 1, VfL Wolfsburg 1
The ever-changing Ligue 1 table has yet another new leader after this weekend's fixtures. This time, however, the leader has a pedigree and a game in hand. Marseille is the defending French champion, and it looked impressive in its 4-0 blowout of Monpellier on Saturday. The club is only ahead of last week's leaders Lille on goal differential, but it has a game in hand, which it will play against Stade Rennes on Wednesday. A win will give Marseille sole possession of first place, while a loss means any of the seven clubs within two points of the top of the table could take their place by this time next week.
AS Monaco 1, Nice 1
Marseille 4, Montpellier 0
Lorient 2, Stade Rennes 0
AS Nancy Lorraine 1, St. Etienne 1
Valenciennes 3, Arles 0
Brest v. Lens (suspended due to frozen pitch)
Bordeaux 1, Lille 1
AJ Auxerre 1, Toulouse 2
Caen 0, Sochaux 3
Lyon 2, Paris St. Germain 2
What did you think of this week's results? Impressed by Berbatov's performance? Surprised by Chelsea's continuing struggles? Thinking of leaving work early to catch Monday's Clasico?
Share your thoughts below.