Paris (AFP) – Real Madrid won the Clasico as the title race intensifies in La Liga, while Inter march towards the Scudetto but Bayern Munich stumbled in Germany.
AFP Sport rounds up some of the main talking points from across the continent:
– A great few days for Zidane –
Real Madrid followed their 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg win over Liverpool by beating Barcelona 2-1 in a thrilling Clasico, and Zinedine Zidane’s side remain, remarkably, on course for a La Liga and European Cup double.
A brilliant back-heel finish by Karim Benzema — his ninth goal in his last seven league appearances — and a free-kick from in-form Toni Kroos gave Real their fourth straight La Liga win and a result which keeps their momentum building.
They move above Barcelona into second after winning both league Clasicos in a season for the first time since 2007/08, just before Pep Guardiola took over at the Catalans. Real are also now just one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid after they were held 1-1 at Betis.
Atletico still have to go to Barcelona, which could play into the hands of a Real side who will head to Liverpool this week full of confidence.
– Bayern up against it –
Bayern’s status as European champions is under serious threat as they head to Paris on Tuesday trailing 3-2 after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
The Bavarians are without top scorer Robert Lewandowski and a host of other players due to injury, and the difficult relationship between coach Hansi Flick and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic is dominating headlines.
They could therefore have done with a better result and performance than they managed in drawing 1-1 at home with Union Berlin, when Jamal Musiala opened the scoring before the visitors scored a late equaliser.
The result should not be a major setback in their quest to win a ninth straight Bundesliga title, even if second-placed RB Leipzig closed to within five points with a 4-1 victory at Werder Bremen. Nevertheless the atmosphere around the club could really deteriorate if they fail to turn the PSG tie around.
– Fun Frankfurt close on Champions League –
Eintracht Frankfurt took a big step closer to a first top-four finish in the Bundesliga since 1993 as they defeated fellow high-fliers Wolfsburg 4-3 in a thriller.
Andre Silva was among the scorers as the Portuguese striker got his 23rd of the season — that’s two more than Erling Braut Haaland.
With just one defeat in 17, fourth-placed Eintracht — who have scored 11 goals in their last three outings — remain seven points clear of Borussia Dortmund with six games remaining.
A place in the Champions League beckons for the club who famously lost the 1960 European Cup final 7-3 to Alfredo Di Stefano’s Real Madrid.
– Relentless Inter march on –
There is surely little doubt now that Inter Milan will win a first Serie A title since 2010 and in doing so stop Juventus from making it 10 consecutive Scudetti.
On Sunday Inter edged out Cagliari 1-0 with a late goal from ex-Manchester United full-back Matteo Darmian. Antonio Conte’s side have now claimed 11 straight Serie A wins, but it has often been like this: their last six wins have all been by a single goal.
With eight matches remaining, Inter are 11 points ahead of second-placed AC Milan, who beat Parma 3-1 despite having Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off. Juventus beat Genoa 3-1 but are 12 points behind in third.
– Robben returns –
It seemed that Arjen Robben’s playing days might actually be over as injuries marred his return to first club Groningen last summer.
The former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern winger — who initially announced his retirement on leaving Bayern in 2019 — made just two appearances before succumbing to a calf problem in October.
On Sunday, six months later and aged 37 years and 78 days, he finally returned, coming on as a late substitute in Groningen’s 2-0 home defeat by Heerenveen in the Dutch Derby of the North.
“Good to be back on the field. Thanks for all the support,” he posted on Instagram.
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