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A View From Europe: Mel makes immediate impact as Almeria earn first win

We take a look at all of the standout results and hot talking points from the weekend across the biggest leagues on the continent - La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

La Liga: Almeria actually win!

La Liga

The wait is over: Almeria have finally done it! All it took for Los Rojiblancos to finally seal a victory was to appoint their third manager of the season and one with an 11.5 per cent winning rate from his last two jobs.

Former West Brom coach Pepe Mel is the new man in the dugout and while a somewhat understated figure, the goalscorer of their iconic winner, Leo Baptistao, is typical of his team's season.

The Brazilian has always been a stylish player, only to fall frustratingly short, mimicking his team, who have been good at times this season but not seen games through. However, Baptistao's first-half strike from Largie Ramazani's cross ended their 31-game winless run stretching back to last season.

With them 14 points from safety, Baptistao's goal may not spark a survival push but the way the Almeria fans have reacted to their campaign means they might make a statue of him.

Like Mel, Claudio Giraldez made a winning start in his new job. Celta Vigo triumphed 2-1 at Sevilla to give them a five-point cushion over third-bottom Cadiz, who lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad on Friday.

The bottom three might now be set but it is a different story towards the top. Real Madrid are eight points clear after winning 4-2 at Osasuna thanks to a Vinicius brace, although the home side's Ante Budimir is 9/1 for the Pichichi after moving onto 15 goals for the season, one behind 7/4 Jude Bellingham.

However, it was another tough weekend for Girona, whose issues against a low block were again on show as they lost 1-0 at Getafe.

Barcelona took advantage to move second with a brilliant 3-0 win at Atletico Madrid but that victory is arguably overshadowed by Athletic Bilbao beating Alaves 2-0, a result that moved the Basques above Atleti and into fourth without anyone really noticing.

Los Leones have won 11 of their 15 home games this season and at 1/1 to finish in the top four, Ernesto Valverde is making a serious case to be named coach of the season.

La Liga Results:

  • Real Sociedad 2-0 Cadiz
  • Mallorca 1-0 Granada
  • Osasuna 2-4 Real Madrid
  • Getafe 1-0 Girona
  • Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Alaves
  • Sevilla 1-2 Celta Vigo
  • Las Palmas 0-1 Almeria
  • Villarreal 1-0 Valencia
  • Rayo Vallecano 2-0 Real Betis
  • Atletico Madrid 0-3 Barcelona

Serie A: Inter still on top after a good weekend for the Roman clubs

Serie A

Inter Milan showed little sign of any Champions League hangover as they deservedly broke the deadlock against Napoli thanks to Matteo Darmian's smart finish from an Alessandro Bastoni cross.

Simone Inzaghi's side controlled the rest of the game but Napoli, themselves eliminated from Europe in midweek, kept chipping away and their improvement under interim coach Francesco Calzona continued as former Nerazzurri defender Juan Jesus headed home an equaliser.

A 1-1 leaves Inter top of the standings, 14 points clear of rivals Milan, who claimed a 3-1 victory at struggling Verona and are making the most of Juventus' slump. 

The Bianconeri have given up a bit since losing at Inter early in February, winning just once. Their latest disappointment was a 0-0 draw at home to Genoa, despite having 17 shots, and their frustration was evidenced by Dusan Vlahovic's stoppage-time dismissal. 

The Serb will now miss the trip to Lazio on 30th March, part of a double-header against the Biancocelesti, who they also face in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals three days later.

For their part, Lazio started life without Maurizio Sarri with a 3-2 win at Frosinone and his former assistant Giovanni Martusciello commented post-match that Sarri resigned "to get this reaction out of them".

Igor Tudor is expected to take over and facing his former club in his first game at the helm, the Croatian will feel they have a better chance of handing him an opening victory than their odds of 19/10 suggest.

There was also more joy for Roma who continue to push the top four after their 1-0 win over Sassuolo. However, that was not enough to catch Bologna, who beat Empoli by the same scoreline and are 5/4 for a Champions League finish, although their trip to the Giallorossi on 20th April could prove pivotal.

Serie A Results:

  • Empoli 0-1 Bologna
  • Monza 1-0 Cagliari
  • Udinese 0-2 Torino
  • Salernitana 0-1 Lecce
  • Frosinone 2-3 Lazio
  • Juventus 0-0 Genoa
  • Verona 1-3 AC Milan
  • Roma 1-0 Sassuolo 
  • Inter Milan 1-1 Napoli

Bundesliga: Leverkusen maintain their lead


They don't like making it easy but Bayer Leverkusen maintained their unbeaten record this season, triumphing 3-2 in a topsy-turvy game at Freiburg to reopen their 10-point lead at the top of the table.

After coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday, Xabi Alonso's side may feel they need a reset and the international break could be coming at a good time.

Bayern Munich had closed the deficit to seven points with Saturday's 5-2 win at Darmstadt. Harry Kane grabbed his 31st league goal of the season, a record for a debut Bundesliga season, while there was also a brace for Jamal Musiala.

RB Leipzig opened the weekend with a 5-1 victory at Cologne, who dropped to 17th after Mainz beat Bochum 2-0 and it looks like a two-way shootout between Die Bullen and Borussia Dortmund for the final Champions League place. 

Der BVB defeated sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 but are still six points behind Stuttgart in third, whose fantastic season continued with a 3-0 win at Hoffenheim, Serhou Guirrassy netting his 22nd goal of the campaign.

There was also some other headline news, with Wolfsburg firing Niko Kovac after Saturday's 3-1 loss to Augsburg, their 11th game without a victory. Managing director Marcel Schafer suggested the side needed a "new impulse" after dropping to 14th and they are 6/4 to snap their streak in their next game against Werder Bremen.

However, the headline game of round 27 will be Der Klassiker as 9/20 Bayern host 5/1 Dortmund.

Bundesliga Results:

  • Cologne 1-5 RB Leipzig
  • Union Berlin 2-1 Werder Bremen
  • Wolfsburg 1-3 Augsburg
  • Mainz 2-0 Bochum
  • Heidenheim 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach 
  • Darmstadt 2-5 Bayern Munich
  • Hoffenheim 0-2 Stuttgart
  • Freiburg 2-3 Bayer Leverkusen
  • Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

Ligue 1: Mbappe may just have a role to play

Ligue 1

The headline is tongue in cheek following Luis Enrique's recent comments that Kylian Mbappe may see his domestic minutes reduced as the Paris Saint-Germain boss plans for life without his captain.

Mbappe's reaction has been borderline adolescent, even sulking off to the stands after being substituted but the 25-year-old proved his point with a second hat-trick of the season in Sunday's 6-2 win over Montpellier. With 59 points from 26 matches, PSG are now 12 points clear of Brest after Lille held Les Pirates 1-1.

Another Breton outfit also had their say on Sunday as Lorient boosted their survival hopes thanks to Tiemoue Bakayoko's late equaliser at his former club Monaco.

The 2-2 draw was another blow for home boss Adi Hutter, whose side missed the chance to move above Brest and into second.

Bottom club Clermont kept their faint hopes of survival alive by beating worryingly sluggish Le Havre 2-1 but Metz's two-match winning run was stunted by a defeat at Reims by the same scoreline.

Nice ended their six-game streak without a victory by winning 3-1 at Lens, while Lyon may now be aiming at a European finish.

Friday's 3-2 victory at Toulouse means they head into the international break sat 10th in the standings.

While they are 100/1 for a top-six placing, Les Gones have ample opportunities to take points off those above them before the end of the campaign.

Ligue 1 Results:

  • Toulouse 2-3 Lyon
  • Nantes 1-3 Strasbourg
  • Lens 1-3 Nice
  • Brest 1-1 Lille
  • Monaco 2-2 Lorient
  • Clermont 2-1 Le Havre
  • Reims 2-1 Metz
  • Rennes 2-0 Marseille
  • Montpellier 2-6 PSG

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