Thibaut Courtois has not had the kind of season he would have expected after he emerged from the 2018 World Cup in Russia as the tournament's stand out goalkeeper. He then completed a transfer to Real Madrid but struggled to replicate the kind of form he had shown at Chelsea and with Belgium.
However, if there is a game he might remember as having been a turning point for him at the Bernabeu, it could be this weekend's narrow win over an unfancied Huesca side. Gareth Bale's goal was the difference between the two teams, but Courtois can claim just as much credit as he made some crucial saves to help keep Real in touch with the teams at the top of the table.
Bundesliga title race
The Bundesliga has gained notoriety amongst the top leagues in Europe as one of the least competitive. Bayern Munich's domination has seen them win six consecutive titles. This season has had a rather different outlook, with Borussia Dortmund leading the way and the perennial champions struggling badly for form.
This weekend was a very positive one for Dortmund, as they navigated a tricky tie in a Ruhr derby against Schalke to win 2-1. Second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach also won 3-0 against Stuttgart while Bayern leapt into third place after they beat Nürnberg by a similar score line. This paints the picture of a very entertaining second half of the season in the German top flight.
Lionel Messi responded to finishing fifth in the list of Ballon D’Or finalists by producing a typical world-class performance for Barcelona. In the derby against Espanyol, the Argentine scored two goals and assisted another to leave the Catalans three points clear at the top of La Liga.
Hatem Ben Arfa
With three goals in his last three appearances for Stade Rennais, Hatem Ben Arfa is hitting a purple patch in Ligue 1. He scored a screamer this weekend as Les Rouges et Noirs won their second game on the trot. The maverick Frenchman has become a key component of manager Julien Stéphan’s side. The only time they have lost in the last six matches, he did not feature.
AC Milan had the chance to move to within a point of city rivals Inter when they hosted Torino on Sunday. They however failed to break down Il Toro and only mustered a 0-0 draw. Things could have been very different though, had striker Patrick Cutrone scored a very easy tap-in late on in the game. Instead, he conjured up a contender for miss-of-the-season to leave the Rossoneri ruing a missed opportunity.
RB Leipzig kicked off this weekend as one of the few teams with any hope of challenging Dortmund for the Bundesliga crown this season. They must have fancied their chances against a Freiburg team who had only won one of their last eight league matches. Instead, they were on the wrong end of a 3-0 thumping. They now find themselves 11 points adrift of the leaders.
“Under” markets in Eredivisie
An entertaining weekend in the Dutch top division produced an incredible 33 goals in nine matches. Out of those, five had Over 3.5 Goals and seven had Over 2.5 Goals.
Fans of Ligue 1
Four matches were postponed in Ligue 1 in the last week as a result of protests that have been taking place in mainland France. Consequently, some big names – among them Paris St. Germain, Olympique Lyon and Bordeaux – were missing in action.