PARIS, April 8 — The title race is now effectively over in Spain after Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid on Saturday, but it’s back on in Germany while Paris Saint-Germain contrived to squander the chance to clinch the French crown.
AFP Sport takes a look back at some of the main talking points from across the continent:
All over for Atletico
Any lingering hopes Atletico Madrid had of turning the final seven games of La Liga into a title race were dashed as Barcelona beat them 2-0 to move 11 points clear at the top of the table.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone had admitted winning at the Camp Nou was the “only option” to revive their stuttering challenge but the task was made harder after Diego Costa was sent off in the 28th minute for insulting referee Gil Manzano.
Even with 10 men, Atleti almost held on for a point, only for Luis Suarez to break their resistance with five minutes left, a brilliant curling shot nestling in the corner. Lionel Messi added a second a minute later to round off the victory, and leave Barca with one hand on the league trophy.
Choupo-Moting will go down in PSG legend
A surprise signing back in August destined to be a back-up to Paris Saint-Germain’s all-star attack, injuries have given Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting a run in the team.
The Cameroon international has become something of a cult hero at the Parc des Princes and put his side ahead in yesterday’s game against Strasbourg with his third league goal of the season.
But his extraordinary miss later on, turning a net-bound Christopher Nkunku shot onto the post while standing on the line, saw jaws hit the floor in the stadium.
It proved crucial in denying PSG the chance to wrap up the Ligue 1 title. The score was 1-1 at the time, and Thomas Tuchel’s side — needing a win to be crowned champions — ended up drawing 2-2.
“Sorry about that,” Choupo-Moting said later.
One thing is for sure though — Choupo-Moting will now never be forgotten in Paris.
Kovac can jump for joy
Bayern Munich’s bombastic return to the top of the Bundesliga table had coach Niko Kovac understandably jumping for joy on Saturday.
Kovac has been under pressure in recent weeks, but is now back on course to win the title in his first season after Bayern thrashed title rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-0.
Usually a cool character, Kovac could not hide his relief. He celebrated Bayern’s third goal by leaping into the air on the touchline, earning him comparisons with both Michael Jordan and Jurgen Klopp.
“I had no idea Niko Kovac could jump that high,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told Sky the following day.
Despite Bayern’s thumping win, the Bundesliga title race remains on a knife-edge, with just a single point separating the two teams.
Ancelotti alarm before Arsenal
Carlo Ancelotti said he was alarmed by the performance of his Napoli side in a 1-1 draw against Genoa before their Europa League quarter-final, first-leg trip to Arsenal.
The draw against Genoa, who played for an hour a man down, came days after a 2-1 defeat against lowly Empoli.
Ancelotti insisted his side were not neglecting Serie A with the focus on their only chance of a trophy in the Europa League.
“I don’t think the players were distracted, because we haven’t talked about Arsenal at all,” he said.
“It’s an alarm bell, certainly, because if we play like this in London, then we’re in trouble.”
‘Scudetto’ might be slipping away from Milan -Gennaro Gattuso believes AC Milan are still on track to achieve a Champions League return for the first time since 2013/14 despite his side falling to their third defeat in four games in a 2-1 loss against Juventus.
“We have to achieve our Scudetto, which is Champions League qualification, at any cost,” said coach Gattuso, who won the trophy twice with Milan as a player.
Milan occupy the final Champions League spot of fourth place, but Atalanta, Roma, Lazio and Torino are all within touching distance. — AFP