Rayo Vallecano and Celta Vigo surprise in Spanish survival fight

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Things are getting interesting in Spain. Ongoing battles for European spots, relegation, and the title, it’s still all to play for. Leaders Real Madrid defeated Osasuna 4-2 to stretch their lead at the top of the table. Los Blancos increased their lead by a point due to Girona’s 1-0 loss to Getafe courtesy of Yellu Santiago’s first half finish. This loss, and Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Sunday night, means Girona have dropped out of the top two for the first time since September. Michel will be hoping his side can bounce back after a recent fluctuation in form. As Spain are likely to only hold four UCL qualification spots for next season’s competition, maintaining their position in the top four is vital. 

Atletico Madrid’s celebrations post shoot-out win versus Inter Milan in midweek showed us just how much the Champions League means to them. However, their hopes of a return to the UCL took a hit this week when Barcelona defeated them. Although there is still the chance Diego Simeone’s side could win the Champions League to get back into it if they fail to via the league route. The win for Xavi’s side means they can still believe they have a chance at chasing Madrid for the title, albeit trailing them by eight points. With no losses in their last ten games Barcelona will be waiting for a Madrid slip up to pounce if they have the opportunity. The two face off against one another in a month’s time, with Madrid to play Bilbao before then!

At the other end of the table some big results came in. Rayo Vallecano picked a surprise 2-0 win over Real Betis. This win took them seven points away from the drop zone and above Sevilla, who themselves faced defeat this weekend. Sevilla hosted Celta Vigo in a clash which was pivotal in the race for survival. A win for Sevilla would’ve taken them nine points clear of the drop and seven points ahead of Celta Vigo in seventeenth, instead it was Claudio Giráldez’s side who came from behind to get the win. Sevilla led at half-time through Youssef En-Nesyri but two second-half strikes in quick succession from Celta meant they took the three points home with them. Mallorca’s late win over Granada likely sealed the away side’s fate in their fight for survival, now thirteen points adrift from safety, it’s going to be hard to come back from. It looks like the same fate for Almeria despite their win over Las Palmas, fourteen points is near impossible to come back from.


RB Leipzig got the ball rolling in the Bundesliga this weekend as Xavi Simons and Loïs Openda shone. Their 5-1 win over Köln meant the result when Dortmund and Frankfurt faced each other was of great significance. With Germany potentially only getting four UCL qualification spots, it looks like it’ll be a battle between Dortmund and Leipzig for it. An early goal from Mario Götze would’ve given Leipzig hope of an upset for Dortmund, however an equaliser from Karim Adeyemi and two late goals from the side in yellow meant Dortmund took all three points. This result for Frankfurt would seemingly put them out of the race for the top four. 

Harry Kane picked up another goal this weekend as he chases Robert Lewandowski’s record. Bayern won 5-2 versus Darmstadt after going behind surprisingly to the side bottom of the table. Jamal Musiala took centre stage as he scored two and assisted another in a near perfect performance, his second goal was simply superb. Bayer Leverkusen responded to this by picking up another win themselves on Sunday, defeating Freiburg 3-2 in a game which was closer than they would’ve liked. This win keeps the gap between them and Bayern at ten points, now forty two games unbeaten in all competitions, with a likely double and potential treble on the cards it could be a phenomenal season. 

At the bottom of the table Mainz picked up an important win which took them from the automatic relegation places to the play-off place. They beat Bochum 2-0 which means they’re now six points behind them. A loss could’ve been extremely detrimental to all three of the bottom clubs as it would’ve made the gap between relegation and survival a massive one. It’ll still be a tough task for any of the sides to escape relegation and the most likely fight for survival will be between Köln and Mainz for the play-off place.


Friday night’s fixture in France was a clash between two mid table teams. Toulouse vs Lyon. Although not much was at stake as both sides look to be safe but too far to challenge for Europe, the game was still an entertaining one. Lyon led at half-time thanks to a goal from Alexandre Lacazette but Toulouse quickly came from behind to lead after two goals in six minutes before the hour mark. With twenty five to play Lyon coach Pierre Sage brought on Rayan Cherki, this decision turned out to be a fantastic one. It was Cherki who changed the game, scoring one and assisting another to make it 3-2 to Lyon. A superb cameo from the Frenchman. 

Saturday night gave us an entertaining exchange between two sides battling for Europe. Lens hosted Nice in a game which was hard to call pre game. Although Lens dominated most of the game it was Nice who got the win. It finished 3-1 to the away side who proved clinicalness is all that is important in games like these. Three shots on target, three goals, that’s what was the difference between the two sides. Speaking of being clinical, that was exactly what PSG were this weekend, and more specifically Kylian Mbappé. Mbappé scored three and assisted one as PSG triumphed 6-2 over a poor Montpellier side.

Clermont got their first win in eight games this weekend, beating Le Havre 2-1 and picking up a vital three points. They’re now only six points off survival and will feel they have a chance of staying up. Losses for both Metz and Nantes above them will have increased confidence too. Nantes’ loss came to Strasbourg, an important win for the away side as it moved them six points clear of automatic relegation. It was Emanuel Emegha’s double which confirmed the win for Patrick Viera’s side. Another side fighting to stay up is Lorient. They picked up a point versus Monaco after a last minute equaliser from Tiemoué Bakayoko made it 2-2 in an eventful game which meant both sides finished with ten men! 


The surprise package of the season continued to delight on Friday night as Thiago Motta’s Bologna found an injury time winner to beat an unfortunate Empoli side. It was substitute Giovanni Fabbian who got the decisive goal after Empoli goalkeeper Elia Caprile parried the ball in his direction, unlucky for him as he’d had a superb game prior to this. This win keeps Bologna in the top five and seven points ahead of sixth placed Atalanta. It looks like Italy will likely have five spots for UCL qualification so Bologna are in with a good chance of making history by qualifying for the Champions League for the first time! On the flip side, this is the third game in a row which Empoli have lost 1-0, not a nice feeling for them or their fans but hopefully shouldn’t dishearten them too much as they look to survive after not losing for six games in a row prior to these defeats. 

The early game on Sunday was Juventus vs Genoa, and it wasn’t one for the history books to say the least. A goalless draw with the highlight coming in the closing minutes as Dušan Vlahović was booked twice in quick succession for fouling goalkeeper Josep Martínez and then berating the referee for his decision which saw him walk just before the rest of his teammates at full-time. This draw means Juventus have only picked up seven points from a possible twenty-four in their last eight games, not a great look for Massimiliano Allegri who fans are starting to become disgruntled with. A team who have been in much better form as of late is AC Milan. Winning their last five games, including this weekend’s 3-1 win over Hellas Verona, which should certainly cement their place in the top five as they also carry on challenging in the Europa League. It would be rude not to mention how good the finish was from Tijjani Noslin, the striker scoring a delightful strike from outside the area. One thing they will have on their mind though is the prospect of Inter Milan potentially lifting the title against them in a month’s time.

Inter are currently sat top by fourteen points, and if results go their way a win on the day or even before could see them lift the Scudetto at the San Siro in front of their rivals… they couldn’t could they? After their heart-breaking defeat in midweek to Atletico on penalties they now have to focus on the league and they’ll want that wrapped up as soon as possible. It looked like they were bouncing straight back as they hosted Napoli on Sunday night. A goal from Matteo Darmian in the first half meant the home side led for the majority of the second half, that was until Juan Jesus’ header found the back of the net and salvaged a point for Napoli, one which could be vital in their fight for European football next season.

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