As the English Premier League stepped aside to allow the magic of the FA Cup its rightful attention, the top European leagues didn’t hang around.
Juventus took a seven point lead over nearest challengers Roma with a 4-1 victory as Higuain scored his 19th league goal, while Dybala banged in an unstoppable free kick before adding another late on. Anything Juventus can do however, so can Roma, beating Torino with the same score line as Dzeko also took his tally to 19 for the season. Juventus have now gone an unbelievable 43 home games unbeaten in all competitions since August 2015, winning 36 and drawing seven.
The much more competitive Spanish league produced some interesting results where a Messi double, one of which was a 90th minute penalty, eventually saw struggling Barcelona beat Leganes in 17th 2-1. Bale stole the show for league leaders Real Madrid after he scored on his return from a lengthy spell on the side-lines, keeping his side a point clear with two games in hand. Atletico kept their hands on Champions League spot thanks to an incredible five minute hat-trick from striker Gameiro in a 4-1 win over Gijon.
A 90th minute Lewandowski goal rescued a point for Bayern, as RB Leipzig gratefully accepted the chance to move just five points behind the leaders by beating Gladbach 2-1. Koln’s Modeste became joint top scorer on 17 as he grabbed another goal at the weekend, while Dortmund and Hoffenheim picked up vital wins as they go head to head for third place. Carlo Ancelotti managed to make a few headlines when he raised a middle finger to Hertha Berlin fans, claiming he was spat at after the final whistle of the 1-1 draw.
Ligue 1 reached an intriguing stage as PSG were held to a goalless draw at home to Toulouse, with Monaco also drawing away to Bastia. Nice stepped up to join second place PSG on 56 points, just three behind leaders Monaco, as they overcame Lorient 1-0. Balotelli again hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons with his third red card of the season, this one for swearing at the referee. Lacazette added his 21st league goal as Lyon beat Dijon 4-2.
Familiar faces from English football showed they still had their talent by helping their teams in important games. Mauricio Isla, once of QPR, scored for current club Cagliari, while Gerard Deulofeu scored for AC Milan as former Blackburn striker Nikola Kalinic also found the net.
Nani and Simone Zaza were on the score sheet for Valencia, while ex-Liverpool flop Iago Aspas scored his twelfth of the season. Former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry bagged a goal for Werder Bremen, while former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric found the net twice for Hoffenheim. Clinton Njie and Florian Thauvin, on loan from Spurs and Newcastle respectively, scored important goals for current club Marseille in a 2-0 win over Rennes.