All four Champions League semi-finalists were impressive in a weekend which saw both Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain edge closer to winning their respective titles.
Bundesliga champions Bayern flexed their goalscoring muscles for a second consecutive week to dispatch Hannover 96 6-1. “We wanted to prepare well for the match against Barcelona, and we succeeded. We’ve played well, especially in the first half, it was a convincing performance,” said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Fellow Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund edged out Mainz 2-0, while Eintracht Frankfurt beat Schalke 1-0 and moved to within a point of their fourth-placed opponents.
“This is a very happy day for everyone,” said Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura after Éric Abidal completed 90 minutes for the first time since undergoing a liver transplant in the Blaugrana’s 1-0 victory against Levante at Camp Nou. “He played the entire match and he feels great! On a footballing level, I think he played well, he’s paced himself perfectly.” The result consolidated the leaders’ 13-point cushion over closest pursuers Real Madrid, who prevailed 3-1 at home to Real Betis. As for Atlético Madrid, they edged out Sevilla 1-0 and strode 13 points clear of fourth-placed Real Sociedad, held 0-0 by Osasuna.
Arsenal climbed into third place as they eased past Fulham 1-0 before Chelsea, now a point back in fourth, let a lead slip twice in a 2-2 draw at Liverpool. “We are on a strong run and we just go into the next game and focus on winning that. The next game will be Manchester United so it’s a good challenge for us,” said Gunners coach Arsène Wenger, whose side have never finished outside the top four under his stewardship. Meanwhile, three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes steered Tottenham to a rousing 3-1 comeback victory over Manchester City and within a point of Chelsea.
Juventus are on the cusp of a second successive Serie A title after Arturo Vidal’s penalty proved sufficient to defeat AC Milan and maintain the 11-point gap to second-placed Napoli. “We have taken another step towards the Scudetto,” said the goalscorer. “We have to continue like this, and work until the end.” An added-time goal was required for Napoli to defeat Cagliari 3-2, meanwhile, with coach Walter Mazzarri concluding that his team “deserved to win and there are few doubts about that”. Fiorentina also needed a late goal to see off Torino 4-3 and maintain their challenge for a Champions League spot, while Inter Milan beat Parma 1-0.
PSG held their nerve to record a routine 3-0 win against Nice and preserve their nine-point lead atop the Ligue 1 standings. Second-placed Olympique de Marseille overcame Stade Brestois by a solitary goal, while Olympique Lyonnais claimed all three points courtesy of a 2-1 success at Montpellier. Elsewhere, AS Saint-Étienne won their first major trophy in 32 years, as they lifted the French Coupe de la Ligue on Saturday. “We are going to party now,” said forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. “This victory makes us want to continue to fight in the league and win a Champions League place.”