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Stakes high in capital derbies

Published: Friday 11 March 2011, 10.33CET
Derbies in Rome, Bucharest and Vienna give's survey of the weekend's fixtures some fizz while the Czech top two meet and Germany has a battle of soon-to-be ex-coaches.

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Published: Friday 11 March 2011, 10.33CET

Stakes high in capital derbies

Derbies in Rome, Bucharest and Vienna give's survey of the weekend's fixtures some fizz while the Czech top two meet and Germany has a battle of soon-to-be ex-coaches.

Germany: FC Bayern München v Hamburger SV (Saturday, 15.30)
Hamburg boss Armin Veh described this fixture as a game "between two stricken sides", with both clubs falling well short of expectations this season. Bayern, in fifth, have little hope of defending their Bundesliga title while Hamburg – two positions further back – are out of the all-important European places. This week it was also announced that Veh and Bayern coach Louis van Gaal would be leaving their posts at the season's end. Will that undermine their teams? "Only the future will tell," Veh said cryptically. "If you win, it works. If you lose, it might work eventually, but people start saying it doesn't." Bayern captain Philipp Lahm added: "The team have to respond now, every player has to do his duty."

Czech Republic: FC Viktoria Plzeň v AC Sparta Praha (Saturday, 17.20)
On a seven-game winning run, Sparta will look to go top in the Czech Republic for the first time this season as they meet First League frontrunners Viktoria Plzeň, who led them by 12 points during the autumn. Sparta coach Jozef Chovanec serves a touchline ban, but January signing Tomáš Pekhart – who scored 11 top-flight goals for FK Jablonec before the winter break – could make his league debut for the club. Plzeň have just one victory from their last four matches, and dropped two points with a missed penalty at 1. FC Slovácko on 5 March, yet Sparta cast-offs Pavel Horváth, Daniel Kolář and Jan Rezek have a point to prove. Coach Pabel Vrba said: "These players are at their best under pressure."

Romania: FC Rapid Bucureşti v FC Dinamo Bucureşti (Saturday, 19.00)
The Bucharest duo sit level on points in fourth and fifth spots in Liga I but, having fallen 12 adrift of leaders FC Oţelul Galaţi, neither can afford to slip up as they scramble for European qualification. Rapid are without suspended defender Marius Constantin, with captain Costin Lazăr also a doubt amid wrangles over a contract extension. "I only want players who are totally focused," said coach Marius Șumudică, whose side last beat Dinamo in August 2008. Dinamo boss Ioan Andone "could not sleep" after last week's 2-2 home draw with struggling CS Pandurii Lignitul Târgu Jiu, yet may rest easier given a victory at Rapid. "We still believe we can win the title, but to get back into the race we have to win our next three matches," he said. "Against Rapid anything can happen."

Italy: AS Roma v S.S. Lazio (Sunday, 15.00)
Eliminated by FC Shakthar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, Roma must attempt to blaze a trail towards next season's competition when they play fourth-placed S.S. Lazio in the 'derby capitolino'. Five points and two positions behind their city rivals, the Giallorossi have taken seven points from three Serie A outings since Vincenzo Montella took over from Claudio Ranieri. "We have a chance to respond immediately to the Shakhtar defeat," said Roma defender Nicolás Burdisso. "This is the most important game of the season." Lazio striker Sergio Floccari concurred: "The derby is always the game for us but this one is particularly important because it could be crucial in the race for the Champions League."

Austria: FK Austria Wien v SK Rapid Wien (Sunday, 16.00)

The 296th edition of the most celebrated Vienna derby finds 16-time champions Rapid sixth in the Bundesliga and eight points short of leaders Austria Wien. Midfielder Veli Kevlak is nursing a stress fracture of the kneecap and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink has torn a thigh muscle, leaving Rapid with two big pairs of boots to fill as they seek a repeat of their 1-0 success over Austria Wien at the Franz-Horr-Stadion earlier this term. However, their rivals expect a battle, regardless of who does or does not play. "Even if Rapid are a long way behind us, we have to give everything we've got in these matches," warned Austria Wien's right-back Florian Klein.

Spain: Sevilla FC v FC Barcelona (Sunday, 21.00)
With Gregorio Manzano's eighth-placed outfit striving to push themselves back into European qualifying contention, the Andalusians will not want to lose to table-topping Barcelona. A daunting task, yet not an impossible one according to Sevilla midfielder Diego Perotti. "Barcelona are the best, but little by little other teams are beginning to understand them more," the 22-year-old Argentinian said. "They play a different style of football to everyone else but we have to be focused and stand up to them. Beating Barcelona would not save our season but it would feel great."

Last updated: 07/12/13 5.55CET

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