Atletico denied, Lewandowski v Haaland and Laporta back: European talking points

AFP , Monday 8 Mar 2021

Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski
Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski (L) and Dortmund's Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland gesture during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and BVB Borussia Dortmund in Munich, southern Germany, on March 6, 2021. (AFP)

Real Madrid thwarted Atletico in the derby, Bayern Munich triumphed in the 'Klassiker' and AC Milan kept up the pressure on Inter in Serie A. Meanwhile Joan Laporta is back at Barcelona.

AFP Sport rounds up some of the main talking points from across the continent:

- Benzema denies Atletico -

Atletico Madrid's apparent march towards the Spanish title has been slowed in recent weeks and their latest failure to get the better of city rivals Real has kept the race for La Liga alive.

Luis Suarez's goal had Atletico on course for victory at the Wanda Metropolitano, only for Karim Benzema to conjure a magnificent 88th-minute equaliser.

It is the fourth time in six games that Diego Simeone's side have dropped points, and the seventh straight derby they have failed to win since the 2018 UEFA Super Cup. Real are unbeaten in 10 derbies in La Liga, but at least Atletico need not face their neighbours again this season.

Atletico's lead at the top is down to three points from Barcelona and five from Real, although they still have a game in hand.

- Lewandowski outdoes Haaland in 'Klassiker' -

Borussia Dortmund were not even in the Bundesliga's top four coming into the weekend, so Saturday's 'Klassiker' against leaders Bayern Munich was hardly a title showdown. But it was a clash between Germany's two superstar centre-forwards, Robert Lewandowski and Erling Braut Haaland.

The evening began well for Dortmund at the Allianz Arena as Haaland drilled in the opener and then scored to make it 2-0 inside nine minutes.

The brace took Haaland to 19 in 19 Bundesliga games this season, and 29 in 28 in all competitions, but Lewandowski is a cut above even the Norwegian sensation.

The Pole scored twice, including a penalty, against his old side to bring Bayern level. Leon Goretzka got a late winner, before Lewandowski completed his hat-trick for 4-2.

That's 31 in 23 in the league for Lewandowski, and 37 goals altogether this season. Bayern stay two points clear of RB Leipzig at the top, while Dortmund are sixth.

- Laporta back at Barca -

Joan Laporta has returned for a second spell as president of Barcelona after a landslide election victory, and supporters will hope he can revive the club's fortunes as well as convince Lionel Messi to stay.

"I am convinced he wants to stay, and yes, he has already congratulated me for winning," said Laporta of Messi, whose contract expires in June.

The 58-year-old was previously president between 2003 and 2010, a period in which Messi emerged and Barca won four La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues.

Meanwhile Messi set up goals for Jordi Alba and 18-year-old Ilaix Moriba as Barca won 2-0 at Osasuna to extend their unbeaten league run to 16 games and leave them three points behind leaders Atletico. Next up is the second leg of their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain in which they must overturn a 4-1 deficit, surely an impossible task.

- Milan keep pressure on Inter -

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was out injured but joined his AC Milan teammates -- after finishing his stint guest-presenting the Sanremo music festival -- for the 2-0 win at Hellas Verona which kept the pressure on Serie A leaders and city rivals Inter.

Rade Krunic and Diogo Dalot scored for the Rossoneri, who are back on track after back-to-back defeats by Spezia and Inter last month.

Milan are three points behind Inter, who play on Monday against Atalanta. Next up for Stefano Pioli's team is Manchester United in the Europa League.

- Humiliation for Marseille -

The mood at Marseille had been more positive following the appointment of Argentine Jorge Sampaoli as the new coach of the former European champions, a club who seem to perennially be in crisis or on the verge of one.

However on Sunday, as they wait for Sampaoli to complete a week's self-isolation following his arrival in France from Brazil, Marseille were sent packing from the French Cup by fourth-tier Canet-en-Roussillon.

A team featuring the likes of Dimitri Payet and Arkadiusz Milik were humbled 2-1 in the last-32 tie, played at a rugby league ground in the southern city of Perpignan.

"It's an embarrassment," admitted midfielder Boubacar Kamara. Sampaoli's first game will be against Rennes in Ligue 1 on Wednesday.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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