Messi keeps Barça on Real's coat-tails

Barcelona kept pace with Real Madrid in the La Liga title race with a narrow 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. Lionel Messi was unsurprisingly the architect of the win: laying on an assist for debutant Cristian Tello in the first half, before adding a second himself, drilling a shot into the net after good work from Dani Alves.

Having drawn their three previous games, Barcelona are now seven points adrift of Madrid in the league, who themselves have won six successive games in the league after their 1-0 victory over city rivals Getafe.

Getafe themselves were unbeaten in six but offered little threat after Sergio Ramos headed Madrid into an early lead from a Mesut Ozil corner.

In Serie A, Roma ran out comfortable 4-0 victors over Internazionale, who are now four games without a win. Strikes from Juan, Bojan Krkic and a double from the former Chelsea striker Fabio Borini ensured a miserable return for Inter coach Claudio Ranieri, in his first visit to the Stadio Olimpico since resigning from the Roma post a year ago. The win topped an excellent day for Roma, who also announced that their talismanic midfielder Daniele De Rossi has signed a new five-year contract, amidst interest from both Manchester City and Real Madrid.

At the top of the Bundesliga, both Bayern Munich and Schalke were held to 1-1 draws, with both now two points behind last year's champions Dortmund, who continued their excellent form with a 2-0 win at Nuremberg, with Lucas Barrios, a recent January target for Liverpool, tapping in a rebound to seal the win.