Ronaldo's free kick, PSG in freefall and lots of goals in Italy. We take a look at the trials and tribulations of the top leagues in Europe.
Well...sometimes Aston Villa supporters just need to be happy with a point. Withstanding a barrage of shots from Queens Park Rangers, even with our cobbled-together defense, well, that's cause for happy. That and the fact that Sunderland and Southampton lost.
Manchester United did the unexpected this week: made the first thirty minutes of the match exciting, rather than the last. United and Reading scored seven goals in the first 35 minutes, then did absolutely nothing for the rest of the time. United won, of course, 4-3.
Chelsea need a consolation card from Villa supporters, a sort of "we got through this and you will too." Despite taking the lead at West Ham United, Big Sam's boys came back and beat the Blues 3-1. They're still in third, but only by virtue of West Bromwich Albion losing to Stoke City. Hey, it's going to be fun to play them after they've won three in a row.
It looked as though the Madrid Derby was actually going to be exciting this year. After all, Atlético Madrid have had a commanding lead over Real Madrid for much of the season. Instead, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a tantalizing free kick, and then set up Mesut Özil for Real's second.
Because Barcelona won, of course, beating Athletic Bilbao 5-1, Atlético is now six points out of first. Real remain 11 points off the pace. Oh, and Lionel Messi scored his 84th and 85th goals of the year. Perhaps it's time he was forced to play blindfolded, or something to make life just a little more fair.
I can almost guarantee you that no one thought, on Sunday, "I'm going to tune in to Manchester United - Reading because it's going to be more exciting than Bayern Munich - Dortmund." And yet the clash between the two heavyweights was rather insipid, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
The split created an opportunity for Bayer Leverkusen to sneak in and re-take second. After beating Werder Bremen 4-1 midweek, Leverkusen squeaked by with a 1-0 win over Nurnberg, courtesy of a goal by Stefan Kiessling.
Meanwhile, Schalke continue to fall, apparently having expended too much energy on the Champions League. They haven't won in their last four matches and needed a late goal from Julian Draxler to draw 1-1 with Borussia Monchengladbach
Apparently I should sleep through all Napoli matches, because they beat bottom-dwelling Pescara 5-1 this morning. Gökhan Inler and Edinson Cavani each scored a brace, and Marek Hamsik grabbed the other.
The unlucky watcher of Inter Milan's 1-0 win over Palermo -- courtesy of an own goal -- was forced to view the only match in Serie A with just one goal. Altogether there were 39 goals across the peninsula, making for a pretty exciting weekend.
Juventus are still top, of course, beating Torino 3-0 in the Turin Derby. Napoli are just two points behind. Fiorentina have slipped to fourth after a 2-2 draw with Sampdoria, their second consecutive draw. AC Milan have managed to move up to 7th after beating Catania 3-1.
If money can't buy you happiness, you'd at least think it could buy you a French title, right? That's not working out so well for Paris Saint-Germain, who slipped down to fourth this week, although they still remain just four points off first. PSG lost 2-1 to Nice, who didn't back down in the face of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's late equalizer. Valentin Eysseric stepped up to put one away just a few minutes later. He may want to hire a bodyguard.
It's Lyon that are in first, beating Montpellier 1-0 this weekend. They also dispatched Marseille, two points back in second, 4-1 midweek. Bafetimbi Gomis got a hat-trick. Awesome name, by the way.
St. Etienne managed to knock PSG out of the French Cup midweek, although they needed penalties to do so. This must've worn them out as they could only draw 0-0 with not-so-hot AC Ajaccio at the weekend, keeping them in third.
Oh and Bastia drew 0-0 with Lille. That seems exciting.
I am not entirely sure why I keep an eye on this league. It's either because there always remains the possibility Aston Villa will snap up someone from the Dutch once again, or because I like the names. But there don't seem to be a lot of upsets. Twente and Vitesse both won. The most exciting "upset" was that Ajax beat PSV, 3-1, and are now only 4 points out of first.
Tijuana beat Toluca 4-1 on aggregate to claim the Mexican Apertura title, or however one might say that. Xolos are top after the first half of the season in Mexico comes to a close.