Heading into the weekend, we previewed the main plotlines we thought might unfold in La Liga (Spain), Seria A (Italy), and the Bundesliga (Germany). Now let’s see what actually happened:
Spain - La Liga:
Real Madrid cruised to a 3-0 victory over Celta Vigo to remain at the top of the table thanks to a hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. It was Ronaldo’s 23rd hat trick in La Liga, which broke the previous record that was held by fellow Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano, and Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra. It wasn’t all good news for Los Blancos, as after the match, it was announced that Columbian international James Rodriguez suffered a muscle injury in his right leg. As of now, it is unclear how long he will be out of action. However, this latest win extends Real Madrid's streak to 19 successive victories, which surpasses the previous Spanish record for an unbeaten streak set by Barcelona during the 2005-2006 season.
Speaking of Barcelona, Lionel Messi saw Ronaldo’s hat trick on Saturday and matched it the following day against cross-town rival Espanyol. Espanyol struck first in the 13th minute, but that seemed to just make Barca angry, as it unleashed a torrent of goals towards the end of the first half and into the second, with 3 goals in 8 minutes of game time. Barcelona would go on to win 5-1 to secure local bragging rights and keep pace with Real Madrid in the table.
Borussia Dortmund picked itself up off the canvas with a 1-0 win over Hoffenheim on Friday evening. While Dortmund was previously last in the table, the win catapulted the squad all the way up to 14th (out of 18). The journey for Champions League qualification begins with a single match. It will take a lot more than that to calm their fans, but it’s a start.
Bayern Munich stayed on form, as Franck Ribery’s goal in the 51st minute was enough for the defending champions to defeat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0. With the win, Bayern maintains its seven point lead in the Bundesliga. Ho-hum.
The other noteworthy story of the weekend in the Bundesliga is that Schalke won its third league game on the trot, with a 4-0 victory over Stuttgart. Schalke was stuck in 11th place when Roberto DiMatteo, the former Chelsea boss, took over in October. Since his appointment, Schalke has climbed the table and now sits in 4th position.
While the club is still 13 points behind leaders Bayern Munich, it is now right back in the battle for the all-important Champions League qualification positions.
Italy Serie A:
So maybe it’s a rivalry after all? After denying that Fiorentina was its rival, Juventus’s six match winning streak was brought to a halt by Fiorentina, who held the leaders to a 0 -0 draw. Though not the most entertaining match, both clubs seemed satisfied by the result by the end of the match.
Roma failed to capitalize on Juventus dropping points, as it was also held to a 2-2 draw with Sassuolo. As a result, Roma remains 3 points behind Juventus in the table.
Follow Mike Smith on Twitter @thefootiegent