Despite boasting three of the four most expensive forwards in history Real Madrid’s recent form up front has been baffling.
Their disappointing run continued at the weekend with a 1-0 defeat away to Athletic Bilbao – Aritz Aduriz doing the damage with the only goal of the encounter.
Since the winter break, Madrid have lost three times and drawn once in 11 league games, and have also exited the Copa del Rey.
Their second straight league defeat has now cost them top spot in La Liga which now occupied by arch rivals Barcelona.
Barca thrashed Rayo Vallecano 6-1 at Camp Nou – Lionel Messi impressed with an 11-minute hat trick to help his side to a resounding victory.
On a personal note the Argentina international overtakes Cristiano Ronaldo for career Liga triples with a record 24.
After a slow start to the season Messi appears to be peaking perfectly for the business end of the campaign which sees a buoyant Barcelona take on an out-of-sorts Real Madrid in ‘el clasico’ in a fortnight.
Up and down
We’ve already talked about Messi’s fine form but the scoring exploits of Barca team-mate Luis Suárez are definitely also worth a quick mention
The Uruguay international hit twice in his side’s weekend win taking his tally to 6 goals from his last 4 games in all competitions.
Also on the up is Parma, although that could be shortlived.
The Debt-riddled Serie A club had their previous two league games called off due to their dire financial situation – nobody at the club, staff or players have been paid since July.
But after a league bailout of 5 million euros were back in action albeit in a goalless draw with Atalanta.
Five million euros is small fry compared to the 100 million euros Parma owe.
The Club are facing a bankruptcy hearing on March 19.
On the down list this week are Stuttgart, who remain rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga following a goalless draw with Hertha Berlin.
Stuttgart have now failed to win in 8 matches – a run that has left coach Huub Stevens’ future and the club’s topflight status in serious doubt.
On this day
Eight years have passed since the birth, or rather the re-birth, of one of world football’s greatest arenas which, among many other events, hosted the Champions League final in 2011 and 2013.
On this day back in 2007 the doors of Wembley Stadium reopened after seven years of delayed construction.
The 90,000-seat stadium cost approximately £1 billion with Multiplex, the stadium’s general contractor, suffering a loss of £187 million.
The first competitive football match played at the new stadium was a cracking 3-3 draw between England Under-21s and their Italian counterparts.
We might be wrong
Over the course of the next few days Later this week we will find out the first four teams to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
Here you have the predictions of our sports team for the upcoming last 16 second-leg fixtures.
Send us your predictions on the social networks, using #TheCornerScores.
Porto 2-0 Basel
Real Madrid 3-0 Schalke 04
Bayern Munich 4-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Chelsea 2-1 Paris Saint Germain
Now we will show you one of the quickest injuries in football history.
Midfielder Marco Medel picked up a sprain just a few seconds after entering the pitch during a Chilean topflight game. Unfortunately for him on this occasion his match ended before it had even begun. (see clip above).