By IAN HOLLIDAY
For much of this season, Bayern Munich has looked poised to run away with the Bundesliga title in the way that Borussia Dortmund did last year. Once riding a 12-match shutout streak across all competitions, the Bavarian club has cooled off considerably in recent weeks, just as last year's champions began to heat up.
Those trends in form showed on Saturday, as Dortmund looked dangerous despite being out-shot and out-possessed by its hosts. Mario Gotze put the defending champs on top in the 65th minute by firing home a bouncing ball that had eluded Jerome Boateng. The visitors created several more chances in the game, and weathered the few the hosts created to see out a 1-0 win that moves them within two points of Bayern.
While Dortmund only narrowed the gap in its table, Juventus retook the lead in Serie A this weekend with a 3-0 victory over Palermo. The Italian giants are level on points with Lazio, but ahead on goal differential. Juve has also played one fewer match than Lazio and third-placed AC Milan, which was forced to settle for a scoreless draw at Fiorentina on Saturday.
The big matches of the weekend in England were the battle of unbeatens between Manchester City and surprising Newcastle on Saturday and Liverpool's visit to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Sunday. In the former, City further demonstrated its title credentials with an easy 3-1 win. In the latter, the Reds got an 87th minute winner from former Chelsea fullback Glen Johnson to defeat their hosts 2-1.
Here's a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues:
Wins for Liverpool and Arsenal this weekend left the clubs level on 22 points with Chelsea and Tottenham. Those four clubs, plus Newcastle, which is currently third on 25 points, are the likely competitors for the Premier League's third and fourth spots in next year's UEFA Champions League. Spurs are in the best position at the moment, with two games in hand on their rivals. One of those matches will be played Monday night against Aston Villa. The other is a match against Everton that was cancelled by rioting back in August.
Chelsea 1, Liverpool 2
Norwich City 1, Arsenal 2
Everton 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Manchester City 3, Newcastle United 1
Stoke City 2, Queens Park Rangers 3
Sunderland 0, Fulham 0
West Bromwich Albion 2, Bolton 1
Wigan Athletic 3, Blackburn 3
Swansea City 0, Manchester United 1
Monday: Tottenham v. Aston Villa
While Real Madrid earned a difficult victory at Valencia, Barcelona took the lead against Real Zaragoza in the 18th minute and never looked back, cruising to a 4-0 home victory on Saturday. Those results begin the separation of Spain's big two from the pack this year, opening up a four-point cushion between second-placed Barca (28 points) and third-placed Valencia (24 points). Real leads the way with 31 points, and the gap seems sure to only get bigger as the season wears on.
Real Sociedad 0, Espanyol 0
Osasuna 0, Rayo Vallecano 0
Sporting Gijon 2, Getafe 1
Sevilla FC 1, Athletic Bilbao 2
Atletico Madrid 3, Levante 2
Villarreal 1, Real Betis 0
Barcelona 4, Real Zaragoza 0
Valencia 2, Real Madrid 3
Monday: Racing Santander v. Malaga
Juve's return to the top was helped mightily by scoreless draws from AC Milan at Fiorentina and Lazio at Napoli, as well as Udinese's 2-0 loss at Parma. Those four clubs – Juventus, Lazio, Milan and Udinese – have formed something of a "top tier" in Serie A through 11 match-weeks. Each of the four has six wins and a total of either 21 or 22 points. The next closest point-total belongs to AS Roma, which has 17. Juve's real advantage is its game in hand, which was scheduled to be played last week at Napoli, but was postponed.
Bologna 0, Cesena 1
Catania 1, Chievo Verona 2
Genoa 1, Novara 0
Juventus 3, Palermo 0
Parma 2, Udinese 0
Siena 2, Atalanta 2
AS Roma 2, Lecce 1
Inter Milan 2, Cagliari 1
Fiorentina 0, AC Milan 0
Napoli 0, Lazio 0
Dortmund isn't the only club chasing down Bayern in the Bundesliga table. Borussia Moenchengladbach is also on 26 points, two behind the leaders and level with Dortmund. In fact, 'Gladbach's result on Saturday was arguably more impressive than Dortmund's victory at Alianz Arena. Last year's 16th-placed finishers, who needed to win a playoff match just to stay in the top flight, got a hat-trick from Marco Reus en route to crushing a decent Werder Bremen side 5-0. Also within three points of Bayern is Jermaine Jones' fourth-placed Schalke, which put together a blowout win of its own on Saturday, defeating Timmy Chandler and Nurnberg 4-0.
VfB Stuttgart 2, FC Augsburg 1
Hamburg 2, Hoffenheim 0
Borussia Moenchengladbach 5, Werder Bremen 0
SC Freiburg 2, Hertha Berlin 2
Schalke 04 4, Nurnberg 0
VfL Wolfsburg 4, Hannover 96 1
Bayern Munich 0, Borussia Dortmund 1
Kaiserslautern 0, Bayer Leverkusen 2
Postponed: FC Cologne v. Mainz
PSG's slip-up against Nancy also cost the club its three-point lead in Ligue 1, as Montpellier defeated Marseille 1-0 to draw level with the Parisian club on 30 points. PSG remains ahead on goal differential, but only by the slightest one-goal margin. The two clubs are five points clear of their nearest competitors Lille and Stade Rennes, however, as both of those clubs are on 25 points. Lille played to a scoreless draw at Toulouse on Friday, while Rennes picked up a 2-1 away win at Lyon.
Brest 2, Sochaux 0
Valenciennes 2, AJ Auxerre 1
Paris St. Germain 0, AS Nancy Lorraine 1
AC Ajaccio 2, Caen 2
Dijon FCO 2, Bordeaux 0
Evian Thonon Gaillard 2, Lorient 1
Nice 0, St. Etienne 2
Montpellier 1, Marseille 0
Lyon 1, Stade Rennes 2
Toulouse 0, Lille 0
What did you think of this week's results? Think Bayern can hold off its challengers and win the Bundesliga this year? Which two English clubs not based in Manchester do you see qualifying for the champions league?