What a weekend! Real Madrid clinched LaLiga, Burnley and Everton both rode out wins to keep their respective hopes of avoiding Premier League relegation alive, and the Bundesliga had tons of drama as Borussia Dortmund lost a seven-goal thriller despite leading with less than 10 minutes to go.
There was also fun in Serie A’s title race as neither AC Milan nor Internazionale wish to give up, and Ligue 1 provided a few sparks as two familiar rivals went head to head. Here are Rob Dawson, Julien Laurens, Sam Marsden and James Tyler with what you need to know from around Europe.
Go to: Talking points | Top goals | troubled teams | MVP Weekend
Four talking points
Jackson, Burnley continue their remarkable great escape
What a job Mike Jackson has done! Since the sacking of Sean Dyche on April 16, Jackson has led Burnley to three wins and a draw from his four games in charge — not bad for a man whose previous experience as a manager came at Shrewsbury and Tranmere. Not only has Burnley’s form given them a chance of avoiding relegation, but it’s also given Jackson a chance of landing the top job permanently.
Vincent Kompany and Wayne Rooney are among the names being mentioned to take over in the summer, but if Jackson can keep Burnley in the Premier League with a thrilling great escape, why would they want to change?
In only a short space of time, he’s got the squad playing for him while also reigniting their belief. Against Watford on Saturday they were behind until the 83rd minute before two goals in three minutes secured a fantastic comeback. Jackson might not be a big name, but he’s already achieved big things. –Dawson
Real Madrid clinch LaLiga
It was party time in the Spanish capital on Saturday as Real Madrid beat Espanyol 4-0 to wrap up their 35th LaLiga title with four games to spare. Many will point to the lack of competition at the top end of the table — Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have been irregular, while Sevilla’s challenge fizzled out down the stretch — but credit must also go to Carlo Ancelotti and his players for their remarkable consistency . They have lost just three times in breezing to a second title in three years, wrestling the trophy back from Atletico.
– Hunter: How Real Madrid fought for their 35th LaLiga crown
– Ancelotti becomes first manager to win big five European leagues
The image of the weekend, as the players headed to celebrate with their fans at Cibeles, came from Ancelotti, who in winning the Spanish league became the first coach to win the five big European leagues following success in Italy, England, Germany and France. He was photographed with a Madrid scarf, sunglasses and a cigar, surrounded by players. « The BOSS, » wrote Vinicius Junior.
On Vinicius: here’s a quick shout-out for the Brazilian after a season in which he’s emerged as one of the best youngsters in the game, but this title will probably be remembered for the impact of Karim Benzema. The Frenchman, who scored against Espanyol, has 26 goals this season, 11 more than anyone else in the league, and has become the symbol of this title-winning Madrid side. –Marsden
Ale Moreno and Luis Garcia hail Real Madrid’s consistency as they secured their 35th LaLiga title with a 4-0 win vs. Spanish.
Marseille win remind Lyon what might have been for them
Sunday’s clash sums it up so well. Lyon are seventh in Ligue 1, 10 points behind second-place Marseille, and yet it was OL who walked away convincing and comprehensive winners on Sunday.
Lyon have struggled all season with consistency, having one good game, two bad ones and the same again and again. Sunday was further proof: two weeks after a humiliating 2-1 loss at Brest, they were capable of putting up a performance like this in the hostile Velodrome atmosphere: solid defensively, inspired at times offensively and with their young prospects Castello Lukeba and Malo Gusto carrying them. Manager Peter Bosz was smart in his choices (Bradley Barcola starting on the right, Thiago Mendes and Houssem Aouar in midfield), a phrase that we haven’t said much this season considering some of his shocking decisions at other points during a tough season.
As always, though, the two Olympiques, Marseille and Lyon, offered a great spectacle and Lyon continued their superb run against their rivals, with only one loss in their last 14 encounters. However, what will happen next weekend away at the bottom of the table Metz? Which version of Lyon will we see then? — Laurens
Serie A is Milan’s to lose, but Inter are still right there
The 2021-22 Italian season has three rounds of games left, and it’s still too close to call at the very top as both sides of Milan won this weekend to keep it neatly poised.
Milan left it late to beat Fiorentina 1-0, needing a goalkeeper gaffe for Rafael Leao to break the deadlock in the 82nd minute and clinch the three points that seemed destined to elude them. (With an xG of 1.56 on 13 shots, just three of which truly threatened, it had all the makings of « one of those days » until Pietro Terracciano misplayed a pass and let Leao atone for an earlier miss.)
Meanwhile, Inter strode to a 2-0 lead on the road at Udinese with first-half goals from Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez, but had to hang on in the final 15-20 minutes after Ignacio Pussetto cut the lead to one and caused some nervous times.
– ESPN+ viewers’ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
It looks arguably easier for Inter from here — besides a Coppa Italia final against Juventus, they face three of the bottom six to close out their campaign, while Milan still have Atalanta and Sassuolo on the schedule — but Milan’s two-point lead is all the motivation they should need. Well, that and the fact that the Shield would be their first since 2010-11.
Don’t expect this one to wrap up cleanly; given the twists and turns of the title race down the stretch, there are still some shocks ahead. — Tyler
Three must-see goals
Lucas Perez strikes for Cadiz in must-win match
One point can make all the difference in the fight to stay in LaLiga and Lucas Perez’s stunning free kick earned Cadiz an unlikely one at Champions League-chasing Sevilla on Friday.
Youssef En-Nesyri had given Sevilla a first-half lead at the Sanchez Pizjuan but Cadiz, who won at Barcelona two weeks ago, leveled through Perez’s set piece which found the very top corner from all of 30 yards. As things stand, that point is the only thing separating Cadiz and Granada, who occupy the third and final relegation spot, with four nail-biting games to go. –Marsden
Keita keeps his cool for Liverpool
Playing in the early kick-off after a Wednesday night in the Champions League, Liverpool’s trip to in-form Newcastle had « trap game » written all over it. Naby Keita’s winner at St. James’ Park was a well-worked team goal in its own right, but it was also vitally important in the context of the title race.
When the pressure was on, Keita rolled his foot over the ball to deceive the goalkeeper before his finish, which eluded three defenders on its way to goal. Ice cold. –Dawson
Cool, calm and collected 🤩
—Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 1, 2022
Bochum’s Locadia puts BVB through the spin cycle
We should have known Borussia Dortmund had one more collapse in them this season, right? And Saturday’s felt like the most Dortmund collapse of all: after falling 2-0 down at home to Bochum inside the opening eight minutes (classic!), an Erling Haaland hat-trick (so Dortmund) including two penalties had them leading by the hour mark. Case closed, right?
Then came a little bit of magic from Jurgen Locadia in the 81st minute to make it 3-3 and, well, you know where it goes from there. (Mark « 85th minute penalty for the visitors » on your bingo card.) But the joy was Locadia’s finish to tie the game: taking advantage of some gentle defending by Manuel Akanji, the Dutch forward calmly cushioned Milos Pantovic’s outswinging cross on his instep, swiveled off Kanji’s hip and thundered it low beyond a helpless Marwin Hitz. It was a slick finish that silenced the Dortmund fans and set the stage for the remarkable comeback win. — Tyler
Two teams that should be worried
Atletico Madrid won the title last season, but they are looking over their shoulders this year. Saturday’s defeat to Athletic Club leaves them fourth in the table heading into next weekend’s Madrid derby. By the time they play Real Madrid, they could have even fallen to fifth because Real Betis play twice before then.
Diego Simeone’s side don’t have the most appealing run-in, either. Madrid may have already won the league, but they will take great glee in denting their rival’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. Atletico then travel to Elche before finishing the season against Sevilla and Real Sociedad, two sides competing with them for a top-four position. –Marsden
After their 1-0 home defeat against Nice on Sunday, Bordeaux have now conceded 85 goals in the league this season! 85! In 35 matches in Ligue 1, that averages out to 2.42 goals per game. That is mind blowing!
It’s by far the worst defense in Europe’s big five leagues. It is 15 goals more than the second worst one in France (Saint-Etienne). They have now won only one of their last 13 league matches. They are second from bottom, yet only four points behind Saint-Etienne in the relegation playoff position with three games to go.
So it is not all over for them but they are so bad defensively (and offensively too to be fair) that they still need a miracle to stay up. They have changed manager (Vladimir Petkovic out, David Guion in), have expelled some players (Laurent Koscielny), have recruited new ones (Josuha Guilavogui, Marcelo) but it is still not working. We thought Bordeaux, six-time French champions (the last time in 2010) were too big to go down. Well, they are almost there. — Laurens
Jordan Pickford gives Everton a lifeline
If Everton stay in the Premier League — and it’s still a big ‘if’ — they may look back at Jordan Pickford’s performance in the second half against Chelsea as a pivotal moment.
Ahead thanks to Richarlison’s 46th-minute goal, Pickford made a string of saves to ensure Everton earned a narrow 1-0 win. One shot hit him square in the face, but style doesn’t really come into it doesn’t matter when you’re battling relegation. There was also a remarkable double-save when Mason Mount’s shot squirmed onto the post, bounced across goal and Pickford recovered to appear at the other post and repel Cesar Azpilicueta’s thundering low effort. Then, from the ensuing corner, Pickford denied Antonio Rudiger’s close-range shot at the back post.
Everton are still in the bottom three, but have a game in hand over Leeds United and Burnley, meaning Frank Lampard’s side have got five games to save themselves. If Pickford can stay in this kind of form, they will at least be hard to beat.
The England No.1 looks up for the fight, but Lampard will need a few others to match his goalkeeper’s intensity and passion if they’re to survive. –Dawson