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United's Chelsea challenge tops weekend bill

Published: Friday 3 February 2012, 16.07CET
Claudio Ranieri heads home with FC Internazionale Milano, city rivals meet in Istanbul and Chelsea FC look to derail Manchester United FC. sifts through the league fixtures.

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Published: Friday 3 February 2012, 16.07CET

United's Chelsea challenge tops weekend bill

Claudio Ranieri heads home with FC Internazionale Milano, city rivals meet in Istanbul and Chelsea FC look to derail Manchester United FC. sifts through the league fixtures.

Germany: Bayer 04 Leverkusen v VfB Stuttgart (Saturday 15.30)
Having lost their final pair of 2011 league games, Stuttgart kicked off 2012 with two more defeats, slipping from eighth to tenth in the Bundesliga, and eight points off the European places, the last of which is occupied by Leverkusen. Dispiriting as this may be for the Swabians, midfielder Christian Gentner at least has seen worse. "The current situation cannot be compared with the pressure we were under last season," he said, recalling a struggle against relegation. "We will have to wait for our chances against Leverkusen and take them when they come."

Cyprus: AEL Limassol FC v APOEL FC (Sunday 14.00)
APOEL are riding high in the UEFA Champions League, but have much to do at home. Ivan Jovanović's side may only be one point off the pace but they have struggled to score in the last two months and take on high-flying AEL in Limassol having already suffered two 1-0 losses to Pambos Christodoulou's side this season – once in the Cypriot Cup and both times in APOEL's own back yard. "The fact they have beaten us twice already this season doesn't concern me," said Jovanović. "We have shown that we are a team that doesn't have complexes."

Italy: AS Roma v FC Internazionale Milano (Sunday 15.00)
Inter coach Claudio Ranieri visits his home town – and his old club – with neither side able to afford to drop points as they chase UEFA Champions League finishes. Sixth-placed Roma are five points adrift of Inter, who are a further five off Udinese Calcio in the all-important third place. Both conceded four goals in midweek: Diego Milito hit all Inter's goals in their 4-4 draw with US Città di Palermo, but Roma lost 4-2 at Cagliari Calcio, with coach Luis Enrique concluding: "I'm very disappointed with our performance. We have to solve our problems quickly or we are going nowhere."

England: Chelsea FC v Manchester United FC (Sunday 17.00)
United's biggest rivals in recent seasons, Chelsea, may struggle to take their unbeaten home league record against the Red Devils to a tenth game since 2002. The Blues snatched a 1-1 draw at promoted Swansea City AFC on Tuesday but had Ashley Cole sent off – and he will miss the United game. With his side trailing the joint leaders by 12 points, Chelsea boss André Villas-Boas said: "At the moment it makes no sense to talk about winning the league, we're competing for the Champions League, we will face United at the weekend and see after that game what we can do."

Turkey: Fenerbahçe SK v Beşiktaş JK (Sunday 19.00)
Second plays third in this derby match and with both teams losing on Thursday, each will be desperate to claw back ground on city rivals and league leaders Galatasaray AŞ. The hosts will look to captain Alex and Miroslav Stoch to provide their inspiration, especially the latter, who has been in prime form since the turn of the year with four goals in six top-flight outings. Fenerbahçe defender Joseph Yobo said: "We need to learn lessons from our Samsunspor defeat. The atmosphere of the derby will be totally different." Aykut Kocaman's side are undefeated at home this season and close to full strength, which cannot be said of Beşiktaş. The visitors are missing a raft of key individuals including Ricardo Quaresma and Manuel Fernandes. Yet midfielder Fabian Ernst is upbeat. "Names are not important, functioning as a team is. Whoever plays in the derby will do his best."

France: Olympique de Marseille v Olympique Lyonnais (Sunday 21.00)
Four days after setting up another meeting in the League Cup final, Marseille and Lyon will have a dress rehearsal for that contest in the league, with just a point separating OL – in fourth – from OM in fifth. Marseille coach Didier Deschamps acknowledged that Lyon's 2-0 win against his side at the Stade de Gerland on 18 September was "a clear one", but expects "a high-level encounter on Sunday" between the two UEFA Champions League contenders, who remain in contention for four trophies this term.

All times CET.

Last updated: 13/12/17 14.34CET