Inter and AC Milan fight for Serie A title as Barcelona thump Alaves


THE Italian scudetto looks destined for the city of Milan at the end of the season. But at what end of the San Siro? For large swathes of the campaign it appeared as if AC were set to end a decade-long wait for a championship as they moved to the top of Serie A and seemed intent on staying there.

A shock 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Spezia at the weekend, however, has opened the door again for neighbours Inter who have waited patiently in the wings for a slip-up for weeks. And now it has arrived when they probably expected it least.

Inter, of course, still had to do their bit to capitalise and did so with a commanding 3-1 victory over Lazio thanks to a double from Romelu Lukaku to move a point clear of their rivals at the top.

The good news for Milan from an otherwise disappointing weekend is that an immediate chance to reclaim the summit is in their own hands. The teams meet next Sunday in the Derby della Madonnina in a contest that could go a long way to deciding which half of this rivalry finally gets their hands on the trophy.

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Milan’s surprise defeat ought to have also presented an opportunity for defending champions Juventus but a 1-0 loss away to Napoli leaves Andrea Pirlo’s men eight points back in fourth spot, albeit with a game in hand. Roma in third also look to be no more than outsiders.

In France, the road to an eighth Ligue 1 title in nine seasons got slightly easier for PSG over a weekend in which their two main challengers both dropped points.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men kept their momentum going with a 2-1 win over Nice while Lyon were being beaten at home by Montpellier by the same scoreline.

It got even better for the defending champions on the Sunday when Lille were held to a goalless draw at home to Brest.

The side from the north of France cling on to first place but only now by a point from PSG in second, with Lyon a further two points behind. Fourth-placed Monaco’s slim chances of barging their way into the three-way shoot-out were effectively ended by a 2-2 draw at home to Lorient.

It was less tumultuous in Spain over the weekend as the top three all won to maintain their spots in the standings. Chasers Real Madrid and Barcelona would have been hoping for an Atletico stumble on a tricky trip to play Granada but second-half goals from Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa saw them grind out a 2-1 victory.

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Barca were far more clinical as they dispatched Alaves 5-1 at home to record a seventh consecutive league win, with Lionel Messi chipping in with another brace. Ronald Koeman’s men are belatedly building up a head of steam but it has surely come too late to deny Atletico who they trail by eight points having played a game more.

Real sit in between the pair in second courtesy of a 2-0 win over Valencia thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos. They trail their city rivals by five points but have played 23 matches to Atleti’s 21.

The Bundesliga title remains, nominally, a two-horse race after RB Leipzig kept up a bit of pressure on Bayern Munich with a Friday night win over Augsburg.

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The defending champions welcomed Arminia Bielefeld to the Allianz Arena last night on the back of claiming the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, their sixth trophy in the space of nine stellar months.

More depressingly for those eager to see an end to Bayern’s domination of the German football scene was the news that the record champions had signed the RB centre-back Dayot Upamecano for next season, continuing their trend of picking off the best talent from the opposition.


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