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European Weekend RoundUp: Juventus And PSG Close In Titles

ANTONIO CONTE NEW COACH OF JUVENTUSJuventus are now only a point away from retaining their Serie A title after a weekend of games in which Paris Saint-Germain maintained their nine-point lead in France. The finish line remains in sight for FC Barcelona as well despite a draw on Saturday, while German champions Bayern Munich set a new points record in the Bundesliga.

Italy
Juventus are within a point of securing a second straight Serie A title after easing past city rivals Torino 2-0 to maintain their 11-point cushion at the summit with four games remaining. “No stone was left unturned in our preparations for this afternoon’s game,” said Juve coach Antonio Conte. “Compliments to Torino: it wasn’t easy to win today, but we managed to score two incredibly important goals.” Closest pursuers Napoli beat Pescara 3-0 victory, while third-placed AC Milan beat Catania 4-2 to stay just ahead of Fiorentina.

Germany
“We all share one goal. We want to win trophies. We’re marching on together. We have a strong bench and there’s no resentment,” said Bayern defender Daniel Van Buyten after making a rare start as the champions edged SC Freiburg 1-0 to win their 14th consecutive Bundesliga game and set a new top-flight record of 84 points. Twenty adrift, Borussia Dortmund maintained their recent momentum courtesy of a 2-1 success against Fortuna Düsseldorf. Elsewhere, Bayer 04 Leverkusen consigned SV Werder Bremen to a 1-0 reverse to remain seven points clear of fourth-placed FC Schalke 04, who had a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar hat-trick to thank for beating Hamburger 4-1.

France
PSG did things the hard way as they ended with nine-men in a 1-0 win against Évian Thonon Gaillard. The win keeps PSG nine-points ahead of Olympique de Marseille, in second. Olympique Lyonnais maintained their two-point advantage over Saint-Étienne in the race for the third Champions League spot as the Derby du Rhône duo drew 1-1. “We are still in the race,” said St-Étienne coach Christophe Galtier. “We realise that it’s not easy for anyone. The key is to believe and play with a lot of pleasure and conviction. Seasons like this one do not occur often for St-Étienne.”

Spain
Super sub Lionel Messi came on to spark Liga leaders Barcelona again, but a last-minute equaliser for Athletic Club meant the game ended 2-2 denying Barca the title for another week. As for Real Madrid, they came from behind to beat Atlético Madrid 2-1 at the Vicente Calderón to move six points clear of their capital rivals, who remain third. Real Sociedad had plenty of reasons to be pleased as well, beating Valencia 4-2 to strengthen their grip on that fourth and final Champions League spot.

England
There were further twists in the race for Champions League spots as Chelsea returned to third place by downing Swansea City 2-0, on a weekend when Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur both drew. “We have to go to the last game, so we have to do our job, win our games, manage the squad and if we can play the attacking football we did especially in the second half, I think we will be OK,” commented Blues manager Rafael Benítez. Fourth-placed Arsenal were held 1-1 at home after former striker Robin van Persie buried a penalty for champions Manchester United, while Spurs drew 2-2 at Wigan. At the bottom, Queens Park Rangers and Reading were relegated following a goalless draw.

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