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Six countries come alive for new football season

Published: Friday 15 July 2011, 10.00CET
With the leagues in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary kicking off this weekend, picks out the best of the opening-day fixtures.

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Published: Friday 15 July 2011, 10.00CET

Six countries come alive for new football season

With the leagues in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary kicking off this weekend, picks out the best of the opening-day fixtures.

The dust seems to have only just settled on the 2010/11 season but already the new term is rumbling into action as domestic leagues in Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary kick off this weekend. picks the best of the opening-day fixtures.

Austria: FC Salzburg v FK Austria Wien (Sunday, 16.00)
Nine of the ten Austrian Bundesliga coaches make 2010/11 runners-up Salzburg their pre-season title favourites, with the six-time champions' coach Ricardo Moniz alone in thinking SK Sturm Graz are top tips to defend their crown. Third last term, Austria Wien come to Mozart's home city knowing they are up against it. "We will attack but it is going to be difficult, no question," said coach Karl Daxbacher, who lost midfield dynamo Julian Baumgartlinger to 1. FSV Mainz 05 this summer and is looking to Emir Dilaver, 20, to fill the gap.

Denmark: SønderjyskE v FC København (Sunday, 16.00)
There have been a lot of summer changes at København but few are betting against them landing a fourth successive Danish Superliga title. Even Odense BK, runners-up the last three seasons, are talking only of "moving closer to FCK" rather than past them. Jesper Grønkjær, William Kvist and Zdeněk Pospěch have followed coach Ståle Solbakken out of the capital club, with Pape Paté Diouf and Christian Grindheim drafted into a side now led by Roland Nilsson. They have a tough opener away to a SønderjyskE outfit who have made shrewd investments, namely Tommy Bechmann, Jonas Troest and Hallgrimur Jonasson.

Hungary: Paksi SE v Kecskeméti TE (Sunday, 19.00)
With titleholders Videoton FC postponing their first fixture to focus on their UEFA Champions League campaign, 2011 runners-up Paks and cup winners Kecskemét take the limelight. Featuring only Hungarian players, Károly Kis's Paks drew some acclaim last season, and should the NBI championship remain outside Budapest for an unprecedented fourth straight year, they will be in the running along with KSE, beaten 1-0 by Paulo Sousa's Videoton in last weekend's Super Cup. Third last term, Ferencvárosi TC lead the line in defending the capital's honour, with the city still reeling from MTK Budapest's relegation.

Slovakia: MŠK Žilina v MFK Košice (Sunday, 19.30)
With ŠK Slovan Bratislava launching their title defence on Friday, Žilina will look to start as they mean to go on against Košice. Pavel Hapal's side surged to the top of the Slovak 1. Liga last season only to sink to third in the final reckoning. Runners-up in 2010/11, FK Senica may struggle with key defender Filip Lukšík and striker Ondřej Smetana moving on, yet Slovan intend to return to action even stronger, having retained the services of forward Filip Šebo – a UEFA Champions League scorer against FC Tobol Kostanay on Tuesday – and signed midfielder Jiří Kladrubský from AC Sparta Praha.

Slovenia: NK Maribor v ND Gorica (Saturday, 20.00)
Champions Maribor enter the campaign with many predicting title No10 but FC Koper, NK Domžale and a rejuvenated NK Olimpija Ljubljana have other ideas. Domžale drew first blood last week as they claimed the Super Cup with a 2-1 victory over a Maribor team with UEFA Champions League distractions: Darko Milanič's men are closing in on a third qualifying round spot. They will need to be at their best against perennial challengers and four-time Slovene First League champions Gorica on Saturday, with their opponents seeking revenge for a 6-0 home drubbing in April.

Switzerland: BSC Young Boys v FC Basel 1893 (Saturday, 20.15)
The big question in Switzerland is, can anyone stop Basel? Coach Thorsten Fink hopes not, saying: "We don't have to say too much about what Basel expect – after winning the last two titles we are going for a hat-trick." Young Boys will attempt to put doubt in FCB minds under former Basel coach Christian Gross, and Fink added: "With this coach and their new signings, YB are placing pressure on themselves to win the league." However, with Marco Streller and Alexander Frei up front and rising stars Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri behind them, the crown remains Basel's to lose.

All times CET

Last updated: 06/12/13 10.06CET

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