“The Corner” is a weekly round-up of football news and every week we’ll select some of the key matches from across Europe. We’ll take a look at the results, standings and hear reactions from coaches and players alike.
This edition kicks off with Cristiano Ronaldo, who on Monday night in Zurich, was awarded the Ballon D’Or.
The Real Madrid star beat Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery in winning the accolade for the second time in his career.
The first was in 2008, when he was wearing the Manchester United jersey.
The 28-year-old from Madeira becomes the first Portuguese in history winning to win the award twice.
The goal scoring machine has been instrumental for Real Madrid and for his country, especially his 4 goals over the two-legged World Cup playoff against Sweden in November that sent Portugal to the finals in Brazil.
From off-pitch celebrations to on-field battles – The Spanish Liga saw a the top of the table clash between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.
It was all to play for at the Vicente Calderon stadium, with the winning team assured top spot in the league.
It was an action-packed game, good chances from both sides, but no goals.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino chose to leave his star players Neymar and Messi on the bench for the first half. A risky choice? Well, looking at the result, maybe – it ended in a goalless draw and a share of the spoils.
After the match Barca coach Martino said: “Earning a point is a positive thing if we consider that we played against the other leader of the league and at their home. They are a team that had garnered maximum points at home and we had chances to win the game. We are not satisfied because obviously we wanted to win but we can’t be dissatisfied with our performance.”
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said: “I think Barcelona usually score four or five goals a match because they are a team who if you give them a chance they will punish you on every occasion. We certainly didn’t want that. So with this in mind we wanted to play our game and we had some real decent chances but at the end of the day I’m completely happy with the work of the team.”
After 19 matches Barca and Atletico are top with the same number of points but the Catalans edge in front with a better goal difference.
The biggest winners of the weekend in Spain were Real Madrid. With their victory against Espanyol they move to within three points of the two pace setters, much to the delight of coach Carlo Ancelotti.
In Portugal all eyes were on the “classic” between Benfica and Porto.
It was an electric atmosphere at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon where just before the match ‘The Eagles’ paid a final tribute to club hero Eusebio, who died a week ago.
A minute’s silence by the teams and the 60 000 supporters was observed before kickoff.
With Eusebio’s name written on the back of their shirts Jorge Jesus’ players dominated the game with Rodrigo and Ezequiel Garay scoring the two goals for the home team, who celebrated their 11th victory of the season.
With Sporting and Estoril playing out a draw, Benfica go top of the Primeira Liga, with 36 points two points clear of Sporting.
It’s the first time in 20 years that the two Lisbon clubs hit the halfway mark of the season in the top two positions.
Reigning champions Porto are tucked up in third place a further point adrift.
Chilly conditions in the North east as Newcastle took on title hopefuls Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City side went on to secure their ninth victory in ten Premier League’s games thanks to an early Edin Dzeko goal and a stoppage time effort from Alvaro Negredo.
The match was tainted by controversy when Newcastle were left incensed with a decision to disallow Chiek Tiote’s delightful 34th minute 20-metre volley.
After conferring with his linesman referee Mike Jones ruled the goal out after deciding Yoan Gouffran was interfering with play in an offside position.
It wasn’t all celebrations for the Citizens’ as their victory came at a price.
Samir Nasri hobbled off the pitch with a left knee injury with the club later saying the France international is set to miss eight weeks of the campaign.
Man City were top of the table only for 24 hours though as late on monday night Arsenal regained their place at the summit courtesy of a 2-1 win at Aston Villa.
The Gunners lead the title race on 48 points, one clear of City with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea a further point back in third.
In Italy Massimiliano Allegri was fired as coach of AC Milan after four years at the helm.
His dismissal follows a poor string of results that culminated in a 4-3 defeat against newly promoted Sassuolo, on Sunday night.
Domenico Berardi stole the limelight and piled misery on Milan with all four goals for the topflight newcomers.
The defeat left the seven-time European champions languishing in 11th place with 22 points from 19 games.
Assistant coach Mauro Tassotti will take charge on an interim basis until a full-time replacement has been found.