Biggest Winners and Losers from World Football's Weekend
Another big weekend of world football came to a close Sunday night, with big winners and losers to be found in all of Europe's top leagues.
From Bayern Munich's big win over Bayer Leverkusen to Barcelona's simplicity to the Gunners' bold step towards the English Premier League top four, the football world was graced with several fantastic performances that deserve our full attention.
Read on to see the biggest winners and losers from world football this weekend.
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Having dropped off somewhat in their chase for a top-four spot, Everton walked out at Goodison Park this week to the defending league champions knowing that any chance at a European berth next season would be dependent on their performance here.
And what a performance it was from David Moyes' men, who stormed to a 2-0 victory over City—keeping their European dream for next season alive and well.
The Toffees were dominant in attack and particularly strong in defense here—completely containing the Citizens' attack and not allowing them any real opportunities at winning this one.
They're still two points off fifth spot and six points off fourth, though they do have a game in hand over the fourth-placed Spurs and will no doubt be a huge threat in the latter stages of the Premier League this season as they seek to climb up the ladder.
Loser: Tottenham Hotspur
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Having done all the hard work to triumph in their recent London derby against Arsenal and then survive a spirited Inter Milan in the Europa League during the week, Tottenham Hotspur seemed bound for some welcome relief when they took on Martin Jol's Fulham.
The only problem was that somebody forgot to tell the Cottagers, who delivered a very strong defensive performance to get the better of their rivals' attack. Fulham then took all three points with a swift-counterattacking movement that handed a shock defeat to the London club.
The loss saw Spurs move out of third position to just four points above Arsenal and six points above Everton in fourth spot, with both clubs having a game in hand on Spurs.
Just when the top-four race was looking settled, Spurs were handed a big loss and opened the race back up again—making them big losers this weekend.
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Valencia faced a tough encounter when Real Betis came to town this weekend, but emerged as a big winner after defeating their opponents 3-0 on the night.
Two late goals blew the scoreline out more than it probably should have been, but the reality was that Valencia deserved all three points here, and they ended up getting just that.
With Malaga enduring their fourth game in a row without a win, Valencia were able to move into fifth spot on the La Liga table—just two points off the fourth-placed Real Sociedad.
Valencia are rapidly closing in on a European berth next season after a strong showing in the Champions League this year, and their win this week took them a big step closer to doing just that.
Loser: Paris St. Germain
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Paris St. Germain found themselves with a key matchup in Ligue 1 this week against Saint-Etienne, who had been in brilliant domestic form of late. The league leaders held a four-point lead over second-placed Lyon and knew that a win would at least keep that margin intact for another week.
And after two quick goals to PSG, it seemed likely that they would take all three points on the night, before allowing Saint-Etienne back into the match with two second-half goals.
They would finish with a 2-2 draw and a key opportunity missed to pull away in the title race, given the fact that both Lyon and Marseille finished without wins also.
Had they hung on to their lead here, the French domestic title could have been all but over for PSG. But as it stands, they're a long way from safe in 2013.
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Arsenal showed in the Champions League during the week that they are more than capable of mixing it with the best sides in world football—nearly recording a stunning victory over Bayern Munich.
The Gunners, however, took arguably their biggest step forward this year when they converted that European form into domestic success this weekend. They beat one of their bogey teams this year, Swansea City, on their home ground 2-0, to show that they are still one of the league's top teams.
Other results around the league this week also fell in Arsenal's favor, with Tottenham's defeat at Fulham giving Arsene Wenger's men a huge boost in their top-four quest.
The North London club are now just four points off fourth spot, and with a game in hand on Spurs, will definitely have a big chance at a European berth next season.
It couldn't have been a better weekend for Arsenal, really.
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Southampton have been strong in the Premier League of late this season—particularly at home—but few would have thought that they could take down the men from Merseyside this weekend.
Brendan Rodgers' side were on a roll domestically with three straight wins, and against a relegation battler here, were largely expected to not only pick up the three points, but do it in style.
Alas, it was not to be.
Liverpool were smacked 3-1 by their opponents on the night—leaving them now three points adrift their Merseyside rivals Everton in seventh position.
With Tottenham losing, the Reds also squandered a key chance to move up in the race for fourth spot in 2013, with the loss here seemingly dooming them to another season without Champions League football. Barring a minor miracle in the latter stages of the season, that is.
They should have been winners this weekend, but they finished as big losers.
Winner: Manchester United
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Manchester United had endured a somewhat frustrating two months with a cruel Champions League exit to Real Madrid and an almost tragic exit in the FA Cup to Chelsea as well.
The last time they'd played Reading, they almost embarrassed themselves with a close 4-3 victory that they probably didn't deserve and were seemingly under pressure to find their winning ways again here.
And whilst it was just the one goal to Wayne Rooney, the win seemingly got United back on the right track once more—extending their domestic winning streak to six straight matches. Moreover, they kept another clean sheet in this one, giving them the third best defense in the league in 2013.
Throw in the fact that Manchester City lost, and their lead on top of the table is now an insurmountable 15 points, you'd say it was a pretty good weekend for the Red Devils.
Title No. 20 is seemingly coming their way later this year.
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All season, Lyon have slowly been trying to catch Paris St. Germain in the French Ligue 1.
And yet that grand plan has seemingly unravelled for Lyon in the past three weeks, with their recent loss this weekend to Bastia the latest nail in the coffin for the French heavyweights.
PSG drew 2-2 away to Saint-Etienne this week, meaning that a win from Lyon here against the 14th-placed Bastia would see them pull within one win of their league rivals. Which, given their recent struggles in the two weeks prior to this, would seem like a huge victory.
Yet, it would not be a victory for Lyon at all, with lowly Bastia running riot over their opponents 4-1 on the night—seemingly putting a huge dent in Lyon's title campaign.
The Ligue 1 race is not over, with the gap between the two teams still only five points. However, given PSG's failings this week and how low Bastia really are in the French competition this season, it's hard not to see Lyon as one of world football's biggest losers this weekend.
Winner: Bayern Munich
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It wasn't like Bayern Munich needed to prove themselves domestically in this match, or that they even needed the points in the title race, but their 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen was indeed a huge result.
Having been stunned 2-0 by Arsenal during the week, and coming up against a strong opponent away from home, Bayern could have been forgiven for taking this one easy and resting players—knowing that their mammoth lead in the German Bundesliga was in the bag.
Yet with their midfield and attack humming once more, the Bavarian club showed that they simply weren't going to roll over against the home side here—netting the game-winning goal in the final minutes of play to ensure that their undefeated record away from home this year remained in tact.
Bayern had very little to play for in this one, but they still managed to switch on and come away with a huge win. It was completely deserved for Jupp Heynckes' side, who continue to prove just how big the gap in class is when it comes to German football.
Who do you think were the weekend's big winners and losers?
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