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European review

Lionel Messi was at his mercurial best once again, while AC Milan wrapped up their week in style.

Real maintain advantage; Milan return to summit; Dortmund march on

Lionel Messi underlined his standing as the best player on the planet as Barcelona romped home, but Real Madrid continue to set the pace in Spain. AC Milan put the finishing touches to a productive week to take to the front in Italy, while Borussia Dortmund's winning run continued in the Bundesliga. Elsewhere, there was no separating the top two in France and PSV Eindhoven suffered a rare defeat to throw the Eredivisie title race wide open.
Primera Liga
Real Madrid remain 10 points clear at the top of the Primera Liga after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo once again get his name on the scoresheet as they swept aside Racing Santander to secure their 20th victory in 23 league outings. Barcelona continue to cling to the hope that Real will suffer a severe dip in form and offer them the chance to retain their title, with Messi having kept them in contention by netting four times in a comprehensive 5-1 hammering of third-placed Valencia. The battle for fourth spot, and the final UEFA Champions League place, remains as tight as ever, with just two points now separating Espanyol in fourth from Osasuna in tenth.
Serie A
Fresh from hammering Arsenal 4-0 in the Champions League, AC Milan returned to the Serie A summit on Sunday as they made light work of a trip to rock-bottom Cesena. Juventus' remarkable unbeaten run now sits at 23 games and counting, with the Bianconeri ensuring that they remain just a point off the leaders with a comfortable victory over Catania. Things do not get any easier for Claudio Ranieri and Inter Milan, though, with a fourth defeat in five outings leaving them six points adrift of the top four. Napoli are also hoping to force their way into that pack before the season is out and they warmed up for a midweek meeting with Chelsea with a 3-0 win over Fiorentina.
A slow start to the season left reigning champions Borussia Dortmund playing catch-up in Germany, but they are now firing on all cylinders and saw off Hertha Berlin on Saturday to claim their sixth successive win and their 13th victory in their last 16 games. Borussia Monchengladbach are also in decent form right now, with victory over Kaiserslautern keeping them within three points of Dortmund at the top of the table. Bayern Munich saw another two points slip through their grasp in a 0-0 draw with Freiburg and they have now slipped to third. Legendary Spanish striker Raul passed a personal landmark in Schalke's 4-0 win over Wolfsburg, with his early effort taking him onto 400 career goals.
Ligue 1
Paris St Germain were involved in a four-goal thriller with closest challengers Montpellier on Sunday, with both sides netting in the final eight minutes to ensure that they took a share of the spoils. Marseille took in a ninth game without defeat to keep them moving in the right direction, with a 1-1 draw with Valenciennes seeing them clamber into fourth. At the bottom, times are tough for Sochaux, Nice and Auxerre, with all three unable to break out of their winless runs and offer their respective survival bids a welcome shot in the arm.
PSV Eindhoven came unstuck for just the third time this season over the weekend, with a shock 3-0 defeat by Groningen helping to keep things interesting in Holland. Just five points now separate the top six clubs, with the Eredivisie title still very much up for grabs. Heerenveen are the form side at the moment, as they picked up a fifth straight win on Friday, while Ajax remain in the hunt as they bounced back from their Europa League defeat by Manchester United with a 4-1 mauling of NEC Nijmegen.
Things continue to go from bad to worse for Rangers after seeing Old Firm rivals Celtic all but wrap up the SPL title. The Gers, fresh from entering administration, were surprisingly beaten 1-0 on home soil by Kilmarnock, allowing Celtic to open up a 17-point lead at the summit with an impressive 5-0 victory over Hibernian - their 15th win in a row. The battle to avoid the drop now looks like being a straight scrap between Hibs and Dunfermline, with the bottom two locked together on 19 points.
Best of the rest
Panathinaikos and Olympiakos won again to pull even further clear in Greece, with the title race having quickly become a two-horse race. Galatasaray remain in full control of the Turkish top flight, with a six-point lead having been opened up on arch-enemies Fenerbahce. There is a three-way tussle at the top in Portugal, with FC Braga and Porto having picked up victories over the weekend to close on league leaders Benfica.
Ranking Player Team Competition Rating (10) Key stats
1 Lionel Messi Barcelona La Liga 10 Scored four goals
2 Andrea Pirlo Juventus Serie A 10 Scored a goal and made two assists, made more than 100 passes for the 4th time in this Serie A campaign
3 Kiko Casilla Espanyol La Liga 10 Made seven saves and seven high claims
4 Jean-François Gillet Bologna Serie A 10 Made five saves, kept a clean sheet, became the only 'keeper with two assists amongst the top-5 European leagues
5 Juan Pablo Sporting Gijón La Liga 10 Made nine saves
6 Stefan Kießling Bayer 04 Leverkusen Bundesliga 10 Scored two goals and made an assist
7 Joel Matip FC Schalke 04 Bundesliga 10 Scored a goal and assisted another
8 Giorgio Chiellini Juventus Serie A 9 Scored his second goal of this campaign, completed 75 of his 82 passes (91%)
9 Klaas-Jan Huntelaar FC Schalke 04 Bundesliga 9 Made five shots on target, scored a brace
10 Robinho AC Milan Serie A 9 Scored a goal and assisted another

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