Euro Leagues wrap: City extends winning streak, Bayern back on track

Pep Guardiola’s men defeated West Ham United 2-1 in an English Premier League encounter.

On top: Manchester City’s John Stones (second left), celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal against West Ham United in the English Premier League at the Etihad stadium.   -  AP

PREMIER LEAGUE

At the end of game week 26, Manchester City extended its lead at the top of the 2020-21 Premier League standings to 12. With the recent 2-1 victory over West Ham United, Pep Guardiola’s team also stretched its winning streak in all competitions to 20, which is just three shy of Bayern Munich’s record run in Europe’s top-five leagues. Title chaser Manchester United fell further off track following a goalless draw at fifth-placed Chelsea. Ole Gunnar Solsksjaer-managed Red Devils, who reached the UEFA Europa League round-of-16 with a 4-0 aggregate win over Real Sociedad, have racked up 50 points so far. The club immediately below Man United on the table — Leicester City — had the worst week of all, suffering a 1-3 loss at home to Arsenal after being dumped out of the Europa League by Slavia Prague. On the other hand, West Ham stayed fourth despite its latest defeat. Merseyside clubs Liverpool and Everton occupy the sixth and seventh positions, respectively. However, the latter is just three behind its rival and has a game in hand. Jurgen Klopp’s men were one among the three English outfits, including Man City and Chelsea, to come out on top in their respective UEFA Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clashes. Meanwhile, North London adversaries Tottenham and Arsenal followed up their progression in the Europa League with convincing victories in the English top-division. The Gunners displaced Leeds United in 10th, two points away from Aston Villa and Spurs, who beat Burnley 4-0. Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah is currently the top-scorer (17 goals) of the competition.

LA LIGA

All Spanish teams, except Real Madrid, faced defeats in their latest Champions League contests. Los Blancos backed up their four-match winning run in the 2020-21 La Liga with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over 10-man Atalanta. But Real stayed third in the Spanish league, six points behind arch-nemesis Atletico Madrid, which has 58 points from 24 games this season. The Atleti, however, slumped to a 0-1 loss at home to Chelsea in the premier European club competition. Barcelona jumped to second with a 2-0 triumph over fourth-placed Sevilla, during which Lionel Messi bagged a goal and an assist. Both sides had lost their respective Champion League outings, to PSG and Dortmund. Barca has played a match more than the other outfits in the La Liga top-five, which is rounded out by Real Sociedad. Villarreal and Granada, respectively in seventh and eighth right now, have made the Europa League round-of-16. Real Betis replaced Villarreal, beaten 0-2 by a Joao Felix-inspired Atletico, in sixth following a 1-0 outcome against Cadiz CF. Levante and Athletic Bilbao are currently occupying the last two spots in the top half.

BUNDESLIGA

Amid its successful FIFA Club World Cup campaign in Qatar and Champions League first-leg triumph over Lazio, Bayern Munich hasn’t experienced the best form in the 2020-21 Bundesliga. The Bavarians were held to a 3-3 draw by relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld before being stunned 1-2 by fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt. However, a thumping 5-1 victory over FC Koln kept the league leader on top at the end of round 23. Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s fifth consecutive win in the competition, a 3-2 result against Borussia Monchengladbach, took it to just two points off Bayern. Wolfsburg stayed third after defeating Hertha Berlin 2-0, while Frankfurt let a lead slip to suffer a 1-2 loss at Werder Bremen in its most recent outing. Scoring seven goals and keeping clean sheets in both of its last two encounters, Borussia Dortmund moved above Bayer Leverkusen, which was eliminated from the Europa League alongside Hoffenheim, into fifth. Union Berlin, Monchengladbach, Stuttgart and Freiburg close out the top-10. Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski leads the Golden Boot race with 28 goals from 22 appearances.

Dominant: Robert Lewandowski of FC Bayern Munich scores his side’s second goal against FC Koln in the Bundesliga. Bayern thumped Koln 5-1.   -  Getty Images

 

SERIE A

Inter continued its dominance in the 2020-21 Serie A as it moved four points clear at the top. The Nerazzurri thumped city rival AC Milan 3-0 in the derby clash before blanking Genoa and extending its unbeaten streak in the league to eight games. Romelu Lukaku continued his excellent run of form by scoring and assisting in both encounters. On the other hand, second-placed Rossoneri, who will face Man United next in the Europa League, put behind the loss to Inter and overcame AS Roma 2-1 in a thrilling away contest. Roma slipped to fifth with the result as Atalanta’s 2-0 victory over Sampdoria propelled it a spot up. Record 36-time Italian top-division winner Juventus dropped even more points on the road against Verona. Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half goal wasn’t enough as the Bianconeri, who are in third right now with a match in hand and lost their Champions League away-leg to FC Porto, were held 1-1. After putting one over Benevento, Napoli entered the top-six once again at the expense of Lazio, which was outsmarted by Bologna.

Striking early: Romelu Lukaku (exteme left), opens the account for Inter Milan against Genoa in a Serie A match at the San Siro stadium in Milan.   -  AP

 

LIGUE 1

The 2020-21 Ligue 1 title race has heated up over the last few weeks. Only four points separate table-topper Lille (59) and fourth-placed Monaco at the 27-match mark. After beating Barcelona 4-1 in the Champions League, defending champion Paris Saint-Germain slumped to a 0-2 defeat against Monaco in the French league. But PSG cut short Lille’s lead at the top to two with a 4-0 win over Dijon. Following its exit from the Europa League at the hands of Dutch outfit Ajax, Lille played out a 1-1 draw against Strasbourg. Lyon, currently in third, garnered a solitary point at Marseille in a game that had a similar scoreline. With PSG being the only active side from the country in European competitions this season, Lille, Lyon and Monaco can possibly try to break away from Mauricio Pochettino’s men in the title race, considering the crammed fixtures in March and April. Les Parisiens forward Kylian Mbappe continues to lead the goal scoring charts in France, finding the back of the net 18 times.