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Portuguese duels headline Easter weekend

Published: Friday 6 April 2012, 11.17CET
There are top-of-the table duels in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Spain, while SSC Napoli are looking to resurrect their form as previews the Easter weekend's action.

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Published: Friday 6 April 2012, 11.17CET

Portuguese duels headline Easter weekend

There are top-of-the table duels in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Spain, while SSC Napoli are looking to resurrect their form as previews the Easter weekend's action.

Portugal: SC Braga v FC Porto (Saturday 21.30)
The Portuguese Liga is bubbling to an exciting conclusion with the top three separated by just a point. Braga's 2-1 defeat by SL Benfica last weekend – which ended the Arsenalistas' 13-match winning run in the league – cost the Minho outfit top spot, but everything could change again on Saturday. Porto are the latest leaders, with Braga in third and Benfica sandwiched in between last season's UEFA Europa League finalists. The Eagles have a high profile game of their own in round 26: the small matter of a Lisbon derby on Monday against Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Czech Republic: FC Slovan Liberec v AC Sparta Praha (Saturday 19.00)
A sell-out crowd at the Stadion u Nisy will witness the battle for top spot, with the hosts, who were 12 points behind Sparta in October, looking to defend their two-point lead following a run of seven victories in eight matches. Sparta have won just four games in the same period and lost their once comfortable advantage. Slovan coach Jaroslav Šilhavý, an asistant coach at Sparta seven years ago, is vowing to take the game to the visitors. "We don't have the squad for a defensive approach," said Šilhavý, whose side have racked up 54 goals in 23 games this season, 14 more than their rivals, with 13 of those scored by 35-year-old veteran Jiří Štajner.

Spain: Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF (Sunday 21.30)
A record of just two wins in their last seven Liga outings has led to Valencia's grip on the third automatic UEFA Champions League qualifying spot loosening in recent weeks and Unai Emery's side are now nervously looking over their shoulder as Málaga CF and Levante UD continue to make progress. Their task gets no easier with a trip to leaders Madrid, unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions, who are eager to maintain their six-point advantage over FC Barcelona. "Our only thoughts are on this upcoming game against Valencia," said Kaká. "This is the most important match for us now as it is crucial we keep the distance between ourselves and our challengers."

Romania: CFR 1907 Cluj v FC Rapid Bucureşti (Saturday 20.30)
With ten rounds remaining, this almost certainly represents fifth-placed Rapid's last chance for a tilt at the title, as they trail leaders Cluj by nine points. Though winless in four league fixtures, a 1-0 Romanian Cup semi-final first-leg victory at FC Vaslui has boosted morale. "My biggest mistake was to say at the start of the season that we want to become champions," said Rapid coach Răzvan Lucescu. "This put huge pressure on my players. The cup is our best chance of playing in Europe next season." That said, Cluj have not shone of late in spite of a seven-match unbeaten sequence since the season's resumption and with captain Cadú, Rafael Bastos and Mário Jorge Makico Paulino all suspended and Pantelis Kapetanos struggling with a thigh strain, the visitors will hope to seize the day.

Italy: S.S. Lazio v SSC Napoli (Saturday 21.00)
The two-horse race between AC Milan and Juventus for the Scudetto monopolises the attention in Serie A but the contest for the third UEFA Champions League place is no less exciting. Fourth-placed SSC Napoli can catch Lazio with a victory at the Stadio Olimpico but the Partenopei will have to do it without the suspended Walter Gargano and Juan Zúñiga and injured duo Christian Maggio and Andrea Dossena. "We are facing a real emergency," said Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri, "but we want to play a great game at the Olimpico." Edoardo Reja is also pondering injury problems, with Miroslav Klose among those out. "The Napoli game will be decisive for us – a final," said the Lazio coach.

All times CET.

Last updated: 05/12/13 7.35CET

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