In Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Armenia the top two are matched in league action this weekend. Among the games is a traditional Athens derby, a reunion of a coach and his former assistant – both of whom have worked at the other's club – and a virtual title decider. Keep up to date with all the weekend results and scorers in the MatchCentre.
Germany: 1. FSV Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund (Sunday, 15.30)
Few would have predicted that at the end of October Mainz versus Dortmund would involve the Bundesliga's top two, but both are worthy of their lofty positions despite sobering German Cup exits this week. Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp, whose team lost on penalties to third-tier Kickers Offenbach, said: "We will see on Sunday how we cope with this. Also, we have lots of injuries." His Mainz counterpart Thomas Tuchel knows who was to blame for their elimination by second division TSV Alemannia Aachen – himself. "I picked the wrong tactics," he admitted. Tuchel pointed out, however, that while Dortmund are still in the UEFA Europa League, Mainz "can now focus on the Bundesliga".
Greece: Panathinaikos FC v Olympiacos FC (Saturday, 19.30)
Panathinaikos may be only one place behind their league-leading arch-rivals but they do not go into the derby on a high. A 1-0 loss at AEK Athens FC last weekend left them four points adrift and added to the disappointment of taking just one point from their first three UEFA Champions League games, though they did ease into the Greek Cup's last 16 on Wednesday by defeating third-tier Kozani FC 5-0. Olympiacos, meanwhile, are on a run of six straight wins since an opening-day defeat by Iraklis FC and, with no European football, have their focus solely on the Super League. They even got an extra rest for the derby as their midweek cup game was postponed.
Netherlands: PSV Eindhoven v FC Twente (Saturday, 20.45)
Twente's title defence has picked up since registering three 0-0 draws in their opening six games, and after four straight wins they trail pacesetters PSV by two points, the pair being the last unbeaten Eredivisie sides. "Last weekend we said that, if we wanted to have something at stake in Eindhoven, we first had to beat ADO Den Haag and Willem II," Twente coach Michel Preud'homme said. His team duly achieved that, winning 3-2 and 3-1 respectively, and may have Wout Brama back from a hamstring injury. Fred Rutten's PSV put ten past Feyenoord last Sunday but were restricted to a mere 2-0 by Vitesse on Wednesday. "The team saved energy for Saturday's big match," said Rutten, who will hope Jonathan Reis can add to the seven goals he has scored in his last four league games. "I can live with that."
France: Olympique de Marseille v Stade Rennais FC (Saturday, 21.00)
Champions Marseille will overtake Rennes with victory, and while the leaders suffered their first loss at home to Montpellier Hérault SC last weekend, Didier Deschamps' side are on an eight-match unbeaten streak in Ligue 1. Rennes have not won at Stade Vélodrome for ten years and coach Frédéric Antonetti is aware that despite setting the pace, they are underdogs. "We know that the top two in the end will be Marseille and Lyon," he said. Rennes are without suspended duo Kader Mangane and Jérôme Leroy but OM playmaker Lucho warned of "Rennes' huge physical strength", adding: "They started amazingly this season. A win would be good, it's always better to race from the front."
Belgium: KRC Genk v RSC Anderlecht (Sunday, 18.00)
This game has resonance for both coaches beyond the fact Genk top the table by five points from Anderlecht. Genk coach Frank Vercauteren was in the successful Anderlecht team of the 1970s and early 1980s and later coached the Brussels club. There he was assisted by Ariël Jacobs who, in November 2007, took over at the Anderlecht helm having been Genk's technical director between 2004 and 2006. Genk were unbeaten in their first 11 fixtures but went down 1-0 at KV Kortrijk last Friday. "We knew we would not finish the season unbeaten," said Vercauteren, whose side defeated KVV Coxyde in the Belgian Cup on Wednesday. "As a coach you can start shouting and swearing, but it's only human to lose a match eventually after such a good run. We don't live in the past, and we still have a good record so far. We shouldn't suddenly start doubting."
Armenia: FC Pyunik v FC Banants (Sunday, 18.00)
With three games to go in their bid for a tenth straight championship, second-placed Pyunik trail leaders Banants by two points, making this a virtual title decider. "This match is priceless," Banants coach Stevica Kuzmanoski said. "We know we cannot afford to lose. Even though a draw suits us, we will be looking for a victory. The best form of defence is attack." He is deprived of injured midfielder Artur Voskanyan while Pyunik defender Artur is suspended. Pyunik coach Vardan Minasyan said: "Despite everything, we have never changed our goal. We are looking to win the title and will give everything in order to make it ten in a row."
All times local. Greece is one hour ahead of CET, Armenia three hours ahead.
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