European football: Five talking points from the week gone by

Real Madrid maintained a three-point lead at the top in Spain, while Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig cancelled each other out in the big game in Germany.

Real Madrid

Real Madrid defeated Osasuna 4-1 on February 9 to maintain a three-point lead at the top of the La Liga points table.

Real Madrid maintained a three-point lead at the top in Spain, while Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig cancelled each other out in the big game in Germany. Meanwhile, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain showed signs of weakness ahead of the return of the Champions League.

Here are the major talking points from the weekend across Europe:

- Bale back to stay? -

Gareth Bale returned to Real Madrid's team on Sunday for only the third time this year but he may not have done enough to keep his place for crunch games to come.

In the next month, Madrid faces Manchester City in the Champions League and Barcelona in La Liga, and coach Zinedine Zidane will have to decide whether to trust Bale again on the biggest stage.

The Welshman had two decent chances to score in the 4-1 win over Osasuna and inadvertently provided the assist for Isco's equaliser.

But with Eden Hazard close to returning, Bale may be squeezed out by Rodrygo or Vinicius Junior, or even Lucas Vazquez, who Zidane has favoured in the past.

Zidane declared himself happy with Bale's performance in Pamplona. It remains to be seen now whether he backs up his words with selections in his starting line-up.

- No change at top in Germany -

Things remain tight at the top in Germany after RB Leipzig held Bayern Munich to a tense goalless draw at the Allianz Arena, leaving defending champion Bayern a point ahead of second-placed Leipzig.

Bayern was awarded a second-half penalty, which was reversed after VAR spotted Robert Lewandowski offside, while Leipzig's Timo Werner missed one golden chance to beat Manuel Neuer.

READ | Leipzig holds Bundesliga leader Bayern to stay point behind

Third-placed Borussia Dortmund is four points behind Bayern after a concerning 4-3 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

“We could be a top international team, but we are not if we leave the game open to the opponent during a match”, fumed Dortmund defender Mats Hummels.

- Juve's split personality -

Juventus' 2-1 defeat at Verona laid bare the split personality of the eight-time reigning champion this season -- dominant at home and vulnerable away. Maurizio Sarri's side has lost three games on the road.

Juventus is now behind Inter Milan on goal difference with Lazio a point adrift in a three-way title chase.

“It's embarrassing for a team of this value to drop points on the road like this,” said goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored for a club record 10th consecutive game but defending errors gifted Verona its goals. Problems in the backline which could in some way be resolved by Giorgio Chiellini's impending return from injury.

- 'Not life or death' for PSG -

Paris Saint-Germain continued the countdown to its Champions League last-16 tie against Dortmund by beating Lyon 4-2 to stay 12 points clear atop Ligue 1.

Another Ligue 1 title looks a certainty, but of course it is the Champions League that really matters for a team that has not won a knockout tie in Europe since 2016.

Some of its defending on Sunday raised concerns, and yet another defeat in the last 16 would surely be disastrous for the Qatar-owned club, which will hope Neymar returns for the first leg on February 18 having missed two games with a rib injury.

ALSO READ | Ligue 1: PSG aided by own goal for the ages in win over Lyon

However, sporting director Leonardo has tried to take some pressure off coach Thomas Tuchel and his players ahead of the Dortmund tie.

“This is not life or death, it's a game of football. I think the team is ready and if we win, great. If not, we will carry on and continue to grow,” he told Canal Plus.

- Title race alive in Portugal -

Porto revived hope of reclaiming the Portuguese title from Benfica by beating the Lisbon giant 3-2 in a fantastic game at the Estadio do Dragao.

Sergio Oliveira, an Alex Telles penalty, and a Ruben Dias own goal gave Porto the victory, with Brazilian Carlos Vinicius scoring twice for Benfica, which could have effectively ended the title race with a win.

It was Benfica's first domestic defeat since losing to the same opponent at home in August, and Porto move back to within four points of the league leader.

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