Soccer: Real maintains distance, Inter shows sign of life

Soccer: Real maintains distance, Inter shows sign of life. 46377.jpegFive points continue to separate Real Madrid from Barcelona, as the Portuguese magician José Mourinho waves his magic wand, so typically in his second term as manager. He comes, he sees, he conquers. In Italy, Inter continue their recovery with a defeat of arch rivals AC in the Milan derby.

England Premier League
All the pressure is on Manchester City tonight as the Blues travel to Wigan, equal on points with United, after the Reds won 3-0 against Bolton Wanderers FC. Arsenal dropped three points in an away defeat at Swansea City FC 2-3, Newcastle and Chelsea beat QPR and Sunderland 1-0, respectively, Liverpool and Tottenham drew (0-0 with Stoke City and 1-1 with Wolves). London's Tottenham and the two Manchester teams have their horns locked in the Premiership title race.

English Premier League after 21 games
1. Manchester City 48 (20 games)
2. Manchester United 48
3. Tottenham (19 games) 46
4. Chelsea FC 40
5. Arsenal 36
6. Newcastle United 36
7. Liverpool FC 35

Spain - Primera Liga
Wins for Real Madrid (2-1 away at Mallorca) and Barcelona (4-2 at home against Betis) and defeats for Valencia (0-1 at home to Real Sociedad), Levante (3-0 away to Athletic Bilbao) and Osasuna (0-2 at home with Racing Santander) mean that the Spanish Primera Liga is once again between Real and Barça, with the advantage going to Real. Athletic Club (Bilbao) moves into the pack pushing heavy-spending Malaga out.

Spanish Primera Liga after 18 games
1. Real Madrid 46
2. FC Barcelona 41
3. Valencia CF 34  
4. Levante UD 30
5. Athletic Club (Bilbao) 26
6. CA Osasuna 26
7. Sevilla FC 25

Italy - Serie A
The match of the day in Italy was the Milan derby, in which Inter continued a spectacular recovery to a disastrous start to the season, beating AC Milan 1-0 away and preventing their arch rivals from going top after Juventus dropped two points in a home draw 1-1 with Cagliari. Udinese went down 2-3 at Genoa, while Lazio had a comfortable 2-0 home win against Atalanta. It's anyone's title for the top five, Inter included!

Italian Serie A after 18 games
1. Juventus 38
2. AC Milan 37
3. Udinese Calcio 35
4. SS Lazio 33
5. Inter Milan 32
6. AS Roma 27 (17 games)
7. SSC Napoli 27 (17 games)

France - Ligue 1
Wins for PSG (3-1 against Toulouse, knocking the adversary out of the top seven), Montpellier (1-0 at home against Lyon), Rennes (2-0 away at Caen), Marseille (2-0 at home against Lille) and Saint-Étienne (1-0 against Sochaux) means a closer-knit pack behind the leaders Paris Saint Germain and Montpellier.

French Ligue 1 after 20 games
1. Paris Saint-Germain FC 43
2. Montpellier Hérault 40
3. LOSC Lille Métropole 36
4. Olympique Lyonnais 35
5. Stade Rennais 35
6. Olympique de Marseille 34
7. AS Saint-Étienne 33

Portugal - Primeira Liga
Benfica and FC Porto won, meaning the Portuguese Primeira Liga is also a title race between South and North. Benfica made short work of Vitória FC (Setúbal) 4-1 at home, while FC Porto received and beat Rio Ave by 2-0. Braga moves up to third place ahead of Sporting, winning the game 2-1, with Marítimo (Madeira) close behind after a 1-1 draw at Paços de Ferreira on the Continent. Académica de Coimbra and Vitória SC (Guimarães) swap places after the home defeat for Académica in Coimbra by 0-2.

Primeira Liga after 15 games
1. SL Benfica 39
2. FC Porto 37
3. SC Braga 31
4. SC Portugal 28   
5. CS Marítimo 26
6. Vitória SC (Guimarães) 20
7. A. A. Coimbra 18

Germany - Bundesliga
No games this week. The Bundesliga restarts after the winter break on January 20.

German Bundesliga after 17 games
1. FC Bayern Munchen 37
2. Borussia Dortmund 34
3. FC Schalke 04 34
4. VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach 33
5. Werder Bremen 29    
6. Bayer 04 Leverkusen 26
7. VfB Stuttgart 23

Russian Premier League - Final standings (League closed for winter)

Russian Premier League after 30 games
1. FC Zenit St. Petersburg 61
2. PFC CSKA Moskva 59
3. FC Dinamo Moskva 55
4. FC Spartak Moskva 53
5. FC Lokomotiv Moskva 53

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey