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Europe braced for weekend of drama

Published: Friday 16 May 2008, 23.55CET
The conclusion of the French and Italian title races and a series of cup finals will be among the highlights on a weekend of frenzied domestic activity all over Europe.
Europe braced for weekend of drama
Lyon can win a seventh successive French title this weekend ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 16 May 2008, 23.55CET

Europe braced for weekend of drama

The conclusion of the French and Italian title races and a series of cup finals will be among the highlights on a weekend of frenzied domestic activity all over Europe.
The tension is mounting in a host of countries around Europe this week as several battles for domestic league and cup honours head towards a thrilling conclusion.

Main prize
FC Internazionale Milano and Olympique Lyonnais are among those heading into the last day of their respective league seasons with their eyes firmly fixed on the main prize. Both clubs are bidding to retain their domestic crowns yet have stuttered of late, setting up intriguing finales in Serie A and Ligue 1. Inter, leaders by a single point in Italy, travel to lowly Parma FC on Sunday knowing they must at least match AS Roma's result at Calcio Catania to be certain of holding on to their Scudetto.

Two-point cushion
Lyon, for their part, have slightly more breathing space: they go to AJ Auxerre on Saturday with a two-point cushion over FC Girondins de Bordeaux, knowing that a draw would be good enough to secure a seventh consecutive French title – unless Laurent Blanc's men either win by more than eight goals at relegation-threatened RC Lens or record an eight-goal success while scoring at least nine goals more than Lyon on the day. SK Slavia Praha could also be celebrating on Saturday as well if they defeat FK Jablonec 97 on the last day of the Czech season, although city rivals AC Sparta Praha – two points adrift in second – will be looking to take advantage of any slip by winning at FC Slovan Liberec.

Artmedia target
Other teams hoping to be crowned on Saturday include FC Artmedia Petržalka, who will take the Slovakian title with three games to spare if they claim three points against Dukla Banská Bystrica and closest rivals MŠK Žilina fail to beat FC Senec. Beitar Jerusalem FC can also uncork the champagne in Israel before the season's end by seeing off second-placed Maccabi Netanya FC at home. In Slovenia, the title race will be over with two matches to spare should NK Domžale get a better result against FC Interblock than FC Koper manage against NK Drava.

Suspense
There will be no shortage of suspense in Ukraine on Sunday either as FC Shakhtar Donetsk try to protect their one-point advantage over FC Dynamo Kyiv, who face to tough trip to third-placed FC Metalurh Kharkiv. Victory at home to local rivals FC Metalurh Donetsk would complete Shakhtar's third title triumph in four years. Elsewhere, KS Dinamo Tirana will clinch the title on the final day of the season in Albania should they avoid defeat in their nerve-jangling clash with second-placed FK Partizani. In Montenegro, FK Budućnost Podgorica will be eager to wrap up the Prva crnogorska title by overcoming FK Dečić on Saturday and hoping both FK Zeta and FK Mogren fall short in their fixtures.

Cup finals
The weekend also includes several domestic cup finals. On Saturday, Portsmouth FC take on second-flight Cardiff City FC in the FA Cup final in England, Anorthosis Famagusta FC face APOEL FC in the Cypriot Cup final, FK Vėtra do battle with FBK Kaunas in Lithuania, Olympiacos CFP play Aris Thessaloniki FC in Greece and PFC CSKA Moskva meet high-flying FC Amkar Perm in the Russian Cup.

Dutch play-off
There are two more cup finals on Sunday, with Portuguese champions FC Porto aiming for another trophy against Sporting Clube de Portugal and KAA Gent taking on RSC Anderlecht in Belgium. The stakes will also be high in the Netherlands when AFC Ajax face FC Twente in the play-off final second leg for a UEFA Champions League qualifying-round place.

Last updated: 17/05/08 17.59CET

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