Two teams brimming with confidence will lock horns at Fußball Arena München on Tuesday after FC Bayern München prepared for their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against FC Barcelona in swashbuckling style and their opponents closed in on a 22nd Liga title.
The race for a top-four berth remains wide open in England, meanwhile, after Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC posted crucial victories. It was also a rewarding weekend for Juventus FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC, who both nudged closer to the title threshold, while Manchester United FC can recapture the Premier League crown with victory against Aston Villa FC on Monday night.
Bundesliga champions Bayern flexed their goalscoring muscles for a second consecutive week to dispatch Hannover 96 6-1. "We wanted to prepare well for the match against Barcelona, and we succeeded. We've played well, especially in the first half, it was a convincing performance," said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Fellow UEFA Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund edged out 1. FSV Mainz 05 2-0, while Eintracht Frankfurt consigned FC Schalke 04 to a 1-0 reverse and moved to within a point of their fourth-placed opponents.
"This is a very happy day for everyone," said Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura after Éric Abidal completed 90 minutes for the first time since undergoing a liver transplant in the Blaugrana's 1-0 victory against Levante UD at Camp Nou. "He played the entire match and he feels great! On a footballing level, I think he played well, he's paced himself perfectly." The result consolidated the leaders' 13-point cushion over closest pursuers Real Madrid CF, who prevailed 3-1 at home to Real Betis Balompié. As for Club Atlético de Madrid, they edged out Sevilla FC 1-0 and strode 13 points clear of fourth-placed Real Sociedad de Fútbol.
Arsenal climbed into third place as they eased past Fulham FC 1-0 before Chelsea FC – now a point back in fourth – drew 2-2 at Liverpool FC. "We are on a strong run and we just go into the next game and focus on winning that. The next game will be Manchester United so it's a good challenge for us," said Gunners coach Arsène Wenger, whose side have never finished outside the top four under his stewardship. Meanwhile, three goals in the space of seven second-half minutes steered Tottenham to a rousing 3-1 comeback victory over Manchester City FC and within a point of Chelsea.
Juventus are on the cusp of a second successive Serie A title after Arturo Vidal's penalty proved sufficient to defeat AC Milan and maintain the 11-point gap to second-placed SSC Napoli. "We have taken another step towards the Scudetto," said the goalscorer. "We have to continue like this, and work until the end." An added-time goal was required for Napoli to defeat Cagliari Calcio 3-2, meanwhile, with coach Walter Mazzarri concluding that his team "deserved to win and there are few doubts about that". ACF Fiorentina also needed a late goal to see off Torino FC 4-3 and maintain their challenge for a UEFA Champions League spot, while FC Internazionale Milano sunk Parma FC 1-0.
PSG held their nerve to record a routine 3-0 win against OGC Nice and preserve their nine-point lead atop the Ligue 1 standings. Second-placed Olympique de Marseille overcame Stade Brestois 29 by a solitary goal, while Olympique Lyonnais claimed all three points courtesy of a 2-1 success at Montpellier Hérault SC. Elsewhere, AS Saint-Étienne won their first major trophy in 32 years, as they lifted the French Coupe de la Ligue on Saturday. "We are going to party now," said forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. "This victory makes us want to continue to fight in the league and win a Champions League place."
"We have a fantastic, talented young team who have brought great memories to the club this year," said manager Neil Lennon after Celtic FC were crowned champions of Scotland courtesy of a commanding 4-1 home win against Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC. GNK Dinamo Zagreb also tasted glory by clinching an eighth successive Croatian title. Elsewhere in Europe, Alan Dzagoev scored in the 94th minute to earn a 2-2 derby draw for league leaders PFC CSKA Moskva against FC Spartak Moskva. For their past, FK Austria Wien drew 2-2 with city rivals SK Rapid Wien, allowing FC Salzburg to move within six points of the Bundesliga frontrunners after overwhelming Wolfsberger AC 6-2.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.