Advantage Barca, Bayern champagne on ice, ‘King’ Burak: Talking points from around Europe


Paris (AFP) – The Spanish title is Barcelona’s to lose, while Bayern Munich will have to wait at least another week to wrap up the Bundesliga and Lille took another huge step towards becoming French champions.

AFP Sport rounds up some of the main talking points from across the continent:

– Advantage Barcelona in La Liga –

The dramatic rise and fall of the breakaway Super League has tarnished the reputations of Spain’s biggest clubs but they remain locked in a dramatic fight at the top of La Liga with Barcelona seizing the advantage.

Leaders Atletico Madrid lost 2-1 at Athletic Bilbao and Real Madrid drew 0-0 with Betis. Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann’s double gave Barca a 2-1 victory at Villarreal.

All of which means Atletico’s lead over Madrid and Barcelona is now just two points. However, Barcelona have a game in hand and host Atletico in two weeks. They can afford to draw that game and still claim the title if they win the five other matches they have left.

A double is in sight for Ronald Koeman’s side, but don’t rule out Sevilla. A 2-1 defeat of Granada means they are guaranteed Champions League football next season but also leaves them just three points behind Atletico.

– Bayern celebrations on hold –

After a week in which Bayern Munich decided not to side with the ‘dirty dozen’ of breakaway clubs, the German giants had the chance to wrap up a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title by winning at Mainz.

Robert Lewandowski made his comeback after injury but his late strike was a mere consolation as goals from Jonathan Burkardt and Robin Quaison helped in-form Mainz to a 2-1 victory and allowed RB Leipzig to close the gap on Bayern to seven points with three games left as they defeated VfB Stuttgart 2-0.

Bayern will get another chance to wrap up the title for a record-extending 30th time in the Bundesliga era when they host Borussia Moenchengladbach next weekend.

– Inter almost there –

Inter, another of the would-be breakaway clubs, are almost there in their quest for a first Serie A title in a decade after Matteo Darmian’s strike gave them a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona.

Held 1-1 at Fiorentina and now third, 13 points off the pace, Juventus will not extend their run of nine titles in a row. Atalanta are second but Inter know that two more wins will see them across the line for a 19th Scudetto, which will put them one ahead of city rivals AC Milan but still a distance behind Juve’s record of 36.

Indeed if other results go their way the Nerazzurri could be champions next weekend.

– Lille take huge step in France –

Burak Yilmaz has been a sensational signing for Lille. The 35-year-old Turk, known as “Kral Burak” (King Burak) in his homeland, has been a driving force behind the northern French club’s surge towards a first Ligue 1 title in a decade.

Before moving to France, his only previous stint outside Turkey had been in China with Beijing Guoan. But his impact on Lille had already been huge before his astonishing performance on Sunday, as he scored twice, including from a free-kick, and set up another goal for Jonathan David, allowing his team to come from 2-0 down and win 3-2 at Lyon.

The result knocked Lyon out of the title race. Had Lille lost they would have slipped to fourth in Ligue 1. Now, with four games left, they remain a point clear of Paris Saint-Germain, and two ahead of Monaco, both of whom won. Lyon are six points off the pace in fourth and the title is, remarkably, still Lille’s to lose.

– Haaland to rescue Dortmund? –

Borussia Dortmund were not interested in playing in a breakaway Super League and as it stands they won’t be in next season’s Champions League. However, their hopes of finishing in the Bundesliga’s top four were given a huge boost as they won 2-0 at Wolfsburg.

Erling Braut Haaland summed up his worth with a brace, leaving him on 25 goals in 26 Bundesliga games this season and leaving fifth-placed Dortmund just a point behind fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, who lost at Bayer Leverkusen.

With three games left Wolfsburg are also just two points better off than Dortmund, who host RB Leipzig next.

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