With the FA Cup in full flow this weekend, the other top European Leagues were in full swing after their winter break.
In Spain, Barcelona were at the centre of a highly controversial match at Real Betis, which ended 1-1. Luis Suarez grabbed a well-deserved equalizer, shortly after the Catalan club were denied a clear goal, which was wrongly disallowed as the officials had ruled it did not cross the line. The Spanish League is the only one of the top European leagues not to introduce goal-line technology due to financial issues, and it came back to bite Barcelona on this particular occasion. Espanyol dealt a 3-1 blow to title chasers Sevilla, while their closest rivals Atletico Madrid could only manage a point away to Alaves. Real Madrid meanwhile went four points clear at the top with a game in hand after beating Real Sociedad 3-0.
The Serie A produced some interesting results in the title chase, apart from leaders Juventus who marched on with a 2-0 win at Sassuolo. AC Milan however could not get past Udinese, who defeated them 2-1, while their rivals Inter breezed past Pescara in a 3-0 win. Second placed Roma suffered a damaging loss to Sampdoria, while their closest challengers Napoli failed to overcome Palermo in a 1-1 draw.
The German league also reached an important stage as the top three all picked up three points, with Bayern, Leipzig and Eintracht winning against Werder Bremen, Hoffenheim, and Schalke respectively. Koln thumped bottom-placed Darmstadt 6-1 in an unsurprising victory, but 13th placed Monchengladbach edged out Bayer Leverkusen in a 3-2 thriller. Dortmund could only manage a 1-1 draw with Mainz.
In France, league leaders Nice stormed to another victory, beating Guingamp 3-1 with to another Balotelli goal. Marseille put five past Montpellier as they push for Europe, a Gomis hat-trick helping them along their way. Lille produced a shock 2-1 at fourth placed Lyon, while yet another Cavani goal wasn’t enough to overcome Monaco in second, as a last-minute equalizer rescued a point for the away side at the champions.