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Famous names looking for lift-off

Published: Friday 15 October 2010, 11.34CET
It may be early days but already two of the biggest names in England and Germany face potentially season-defining moments while Liga champions FC Barcelona host the pacesetters.
Famous names looking for lift-off
Everton's Tim Cahill takes on Jamie Carragher in the last Merseyside derby ©Getty Images features

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Published: Friday 15 October 2010, 11.34CET

Famous names looking for lift-off

It may be early days but already two of the biggest names in England and Germany face potentially season-defining moments while Liga champions FC Barcelona host the pacesetters.

It may be early days, but several clubs unaccustomed to life in the relegation zone already face big games, with VfB Stuttgart hoping a change of coach will do the trick against an FC Schalke 04 side also seeking an upturn in fortunes. Meanwhile, Everton FC host Liverpool FC in the Merseyside derby with both languishing towards the bottom of the Premier League. Keep up-to-date with all the weekend results and scorers in the MatchCentre.

Germany: FC Schalke 04 v VfB Stuttgart (Saturday, 15.30)
Stuttgart's decision to sack coach Christian Gross and promote his assistant Jens Keller may be bad news for Schalke ahead of the meeting of the Bundesliga's bottom two. Back in autumn 2008, struggling Stuttgart fired Armin Veh, replaced him with Markus Babbel and went on to finish third. In autumn 2009, Babbel was dismissed and Gross summoned; Stuttgart finished fifth. Now Schalke coach Felix Magath hopes this latest change will not herald an immediate revival. "For us, this is a chance as well as a danger," he said. "Jens Keller has only worked with the team for a couple of days. There is no way he can have changed that much in such little time."

Spain: FC Barcelona v Valencia CF (Saturday, 20.00)
Barcelona full-back Adriano believes his team "can ill afford any more slip-ups at home" as the champions prepare to welcome the Liga leaders. With a Camp Nou draw and defeat among their first six results, Josep Guardiola's side are five points worse off than at this stage last term while Valencia are five points better off. "We're going all out to win, with the attitude that from here on in it's three points or bust," Adriano continued. Unai Emery's team will be keen to improve on their recent record at Barcelona where they have lost their last three Liga games, shipping 13 goals.

Israel: Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC v Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (Saturday, 21.00)
Bloomfield Stadium will be packed to its 14,700 capacity for the first Tel Aviv derby of the season. Maccabi are riding high with four victories in succession, but have failed to beat their rivals in eight Premier League encounters since Yossi Shivhon, who joined Hapoel in the summer, scored an 89th-minute winner in a 2-1 triumph in March 2008. Since then Hapoel have won six of the derbies and drawn two. Maccabi's 1,800 tickets were snapped up in a matter of 40 minutes; a sign, perhaps, that their fans sense victory.

England: Everton FC v Liverpool FC (Sunday, 13.30)
The last time Everton and Liverpool went into a derby in the bottom three of the English top flight was 1899. The Reds are already in the relegation zone and the Blues may join them there after the bottom two, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and West Ham United FC, meet on Saturday. Never mind the saga of Liverpool's on-off sale, any loser at Goodison Park on Sunday could be staring at a football rather than financial crisis. New Anfield manager Roy Hodgson needs a win while Everton's David Moyes has a poor record in these games. He has not been helped by the news that midfielder Marouane Fellaini will miss the match and could be out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury. It was 2-1 to Everton in 1899, but Sunday's result is anyone's guess.

France: RC Lens v Stade Rennais FC (Sunday, 17.00)
Second-from-bottom Lens entertain a Rennes team on top of Ligue 1 for the first time since 1970. Lens have not won since beating rock-bottom AC Arles-Avignon in August, while Rennes are feeling no adverse effects from losing Jimmy Briand to Olympique Lyonnais and Ghanaian international Asamoah Gyan to Sunderland AFC. The Bretons are one of two clubs – alongside LOSC Lille Métropole – still undefeated in Ligue 1 this term. "We are benefiting from the efforts we've put into our work for the last two months," said Rennes general manager Pierre Dréossi.

Belgium: KRC Genk v R. Standard de Liège (Sunday, 18.00)
Frank Vercauteren's Genk lead the First League table as third-placed Standard – champions in 2008 and 2009 – come calling, with the Liege side having beaten second-placed RSC Anderlecht 5-1 in their last game while Genk could only draw 2-2 at KV Mechelen. However, Genk's Marvin Ogunjimi and league top scorer Jelle Vossen are on a high after registering their first goals for Belgium this week. "That is a good thing for Genk," said Vercauteren. "I saw them off in good spirits and am welcoming them back feeling even better."

Italy: AS Bari v S.S. Lazio (Sunday, 20.45)
A few months ago Lazio were struggling to avoid relegation, but six games into the new campaign the Biancocelesti head Serie A with 13 points. According to coach Edoardo Reja, the Rome outfit are doing so well because of a strong team spirit, explaining: "What counts is the connection the players have; that's what's helped us make the leap in terms of quality. We don't want to get above ourselves, but the fans should enjoy this moment." The feel-good factor would continue with a victory at Bari, where coach Giampiero Ventura hopes to have striker Vitali Kutuzov fit despite Achilles trouble. "We have been praised for the good football we are playing, but we must win," he said.

All times local, England is one hour behind CET.

Last updated: 15/10/10 15.44CET