Biggest Winners and Losers from World Football's Weekend
Another big week of action right around the world came to a close Sunday, with several big winners and losers evident from world football's weekend.
From the FA Cup to Serie A, the Bundesliga and back to the English Premier League, several teams left their mark on this weekend—some good and some not so good.
Read on to see who the big winners and losers from this weekend were.
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Playing an FA Cup fixture against Manchester United certainly isn't an easy feat on the best of days, but especially not in light of all that's transpired this season.
The Red Devils are dominating the English competition and no doubt still smarting after their controversial Champions League loss to Real Madrid during the week. And despite being at home, and two goals up after 10 minutes, they could not pick up the win here.
Chelsea fought back gallantly through Eden Hazard and others, and were perhaps unlucky not to win the match when Juan Mata's shot somehow didn't find the back of the net.
But from 2-0 down, at Old Trafford, against a fired up United side—the Blues did incredibly well to force a replay and will no doubt be thrilled with the result.
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Reading haven't been playing well of late, but they had a big chance to move out of relegation danger this week with a win against Aston Villa (providing other results went their way also).
However, after some Christian Benteke magic, the Royals were left back on equal points with the 20th-placed team and over a full three points inside the relegation zone once more.
Such talent exists in this team, as we've seen so far this year, but with four consecutive losses, it's hard to see anything other than a drop from the Premier League this year for the former Championship side.
As much as they might like to hope otherwise.
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After a big win in the Champions League during the week, Juventus went back to the Serie A needing a big win to continue to build on their lead atop the table.
They'd only won one of their last three before this weekend, and whilst Napoli were struggling, didn't appear to have long before their lead started to shrink. And their opponents, Catania, were more than capable of challenging the Old Lady here.
But like they've done time and time again this year, Juve were just too good. It might have come in the waning moments of the match, but Juve got the win and consolidated their lead at the top of the table. Moreover, Napoli lost to lowly Chievo Verona—giving the Old Lady a nine-point lead on top.
This week may well have been the week they won the domestic title.
Loser: Atletico Madrid
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Having started the year so well, Atletico Madrid have finally been surpassed by rivals Real Madrid on the La Liga table, after going down 1-0 to Real Sociedad at home.
Where Los Blancos have won five straight, Atletico are winless in their last two and have all but surrendered their second-place finish in La Liga as a result.
That might seem harsh, but this is a team bereft of attacking creativity outside of Radamel Falcao at times and still a class behind the likes of Barca and Real Madrid. As good as they've been this year, they just haven't quite made the jump into the top class this season.
As good as they've been.
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Schalke's fixture against Borussia Dortmund was arguably the pick of the matches in world football this weekend, and it did not disappoint, with the home side hanging on for a 2-1 victory.
Goals by Julian Draxler and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar before half-time gave the Champions League side a big enough lead to hold out Dortmund, who dropped an incredible 20 points behind Bayern Munich in the title race with their win against Dusseldorf on the weekend.
Moreover, it kept Schalke in the hunt for that elusive third-place finish and Champions League spot, which is currently held by Leverkusen. They lost to FSV Mainz 05 on the weekend 1-0—making the gap between the two sides now just six points heading into the crunch time of the season.
Schalke needed to win this one to stay in touch, and they did. Dortmund weren't necessarily poor here—the home side were just too good on the night.
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Oh, how Malaga have fallen.
Touted as the side most likely to break up the Barcelona-Real Madrid dominance of La Liga, Malaga suffered another winless appearance in the domestic competition this week with a 1-1 draw against Valladolid—a result that they really should have gotten more out of.
Sure, they might still be in fourth position, but with just three wins in their last eight and now in a real fight for fourth-spot, Malaga are nowhere near where they once were.
Maybe it's the financial situation that's forced the club into selling players, that's hurt them. Or maybe they just haven't been good enough this season to warrant wins.
To be honest, it's probably a little bit of both, but at the end of the day, Malaga just aren't getting the results expected from a team that still has a number of great players on hand.
Winner: Queens Park Rangers
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Harry Redknapp's miracle continues.
Having seemingly lost all hope in their relegation battle with six games in a row without a win, Redknapp's men beat their second relegation opponent in a row this week to keep their hopes at finishing outside of the drop zone alive in 2013.
Ironically, it was three transfer signings that would find the back of the net for QPR in this win, and given defeats to Reading and Wigan Athletic, it brought them one step closer to the elusive 17th spot—now just four points out of reach for the London club in 2013.
There's still a lot of work to be done to get there, but given the belief existent in this club at the moment, it wouldn't be surprising to see Rangers continue to rise up the table.
Like they have done so well since Redknapp's arrival.
10 - If the @premierleague had started on Nov 27th (Redknapp's 1st game), QPR would be 10th; five points above the relegation zone. Saviour?— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 11, 2013
Loser: Benoit Assou-Ekotto
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Perhaps the biggest loser of the week, though, was Tottenham Hotspur's Benoit Assou-Ekotto, whose horrendous tackle gave all three points to Liverpool in their incredibly close Premier League affair.
Spurs had done remarkably well to come back into the match after an earlier goal for the Reds, Assou-Ekotto simply had a brain implosion trying to stop Luis Suarez.
His side had already somehow squandered their 2-1 lead but appeared destined for a 2-2 draw away at Anfield—which isn't at all a bad result for most teams.
But one horrendous challenge later, it was an easy penalty decision and one that Steven Gerrard would take full advantage of—netting home the game-winning goal moments later. Spurs will still keep their fourth place, but they are now just two points above Chelsea and seven points above Arsenal.
That will surely make for a tense final 10 weeks of competition.
All thanks to Assou-Ekotto.
Who were the big winners and losers from this weekend for you?
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