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Schalke-Dortmund derby tops weekend bill

Published: Friday 13 April 2012, 9.55CET
A derby for Borussia Dortmund, one in Istanbul and a must-win game at the top of the Russian Premier-Liga for PFC CSKA Moskva are under the microscope in our weekend preview.

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Published: Friday 13 April 2012, 9.55CET

Schalke-Dortmund derby tops weekend bill

A derby for Borussia Dortmund, one in Istanbul and a must-win game at the top of the Russian Premier-Liga for PFC CSKA Moskva are under the microscope in our weekend preview.

Germany: FC Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund (Saturday 15.30)
Dortmund are aiming to cap what has so far been a memorable week on a high in the Ruhr Valley derby. Jürgen Klopp's side beat FC Bayern München 1-0 on Wednesday in what the German media called the "Bundesliga final", a result which extended the holders' lead over the UEFA Champions League semi-finalists to six points with four games remaining.

Arguably the toughest of their remaining fixtures comes on Saturday against arch-rivals Schalke. The derby, which is so prestigious that winning it is almost as important to the fans as lifting the championship, was on Dortmund minds minutes after sending Bayern home empty-handed. "We are happy for the moment, but Schalke are a very difficult opponent," said Klopp. "We can't pretend that we've beaten them already, so we need to stay very focused."

Russia: FC Zenit St Petersburg v PFC CSKA Moskva (Saturday 17.00)
It is now or never for CSKA as they strive to reel in league leaders Zenit, although even defeat would leave the champions with an eight-point cushion over Leonid Slutski's team with five matches to play. The Army Men's task has been made harder by the absence of centre-back Sergei Ignashevich, who joined Alan Dzagoev and Keisuke Honda on the long-term injury list when he broke a toe this week.

The only good news is the probable return of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev for his first appearance since sustaining a serious knee injury in August. Zenit defender Nicolas Lombaerts said: "CSKA lost to Lokomotiv Moskva before consecutive draws. Hopefully they'll lose against us as well."

Turkey: Beşiktaş JK v Galatasaray AŞ (Saturday 18.00)
The Süper Lig title will be decided by play-offs for the first time, starting this weekend. The 'Super Final', which will be contested on a round-robin basis between the top-four teams from the regular season, begins with Beşiktaş against Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe SK versus Trabzonspor AŞ, the latter fixture taking place on Sunday.

Leaders Galatasaray will consolidate their five-point advantage over Fenerbahçe – points carried into the play-offs are halved – with victory at the BJK İnönü Stadium, although Cimbom's record of only one win in their last 16 visits hardly augurs well.

Netherlands: PSV Eindhoven v AZ Alkmaar (Saturday 18.45)
Dutch Cup winners last weekend, fifth-placed PSV lost ground in the congested Eredivisie title race when they succumbed 2-1 on Wednesday to RKC Waalwijk. AZ, in second, also dropped points in midweek, Emir Bajrami's 90th-minute equaliser for FC Twente condemning them to a second successive 2-2 draw.

With free-scoring AFC Ajax three points clear at the top having triumphed in their last nine league matches, AZ are aware they need to return to winning ways if they are to remain in the Amsterdam club's slipstream. AZ striker Jozy Altidore, who scored twice against Twente, said: "We cannot afford to drop any more points. So the task is clear and with five matches to go we are still in the race."

Spain: Levante UD v FC Barcelona (Saturday 22.00)
In the next eight days Barcelona embark on another UEFA Champions League semi-final against Chelsea FC and host Liga pacesetters Real Madrid CF, who they trail by four points. First up for Josep Guardiola's side, however, is a trip to face overachieving Levante, fifth in the table and firmly in the hunt for a place in Europe's premier club competition next term.

"The only thing we are all thinking about now is our next game, which comes against a team who are having a great season," said midfielder Sergio Busquets, who has appeared in eight of Barcelona's ten successive top-flight wins, a run dating back to 19 February. "Levante is a difficult place to play but we're going into the match – as we have been in all of our recent encounters – treating it as a final."

Austria: FK Austria Wien v SK Rapid Wien (Sunday 16.00)
Hosting their second-placed city rivals in the 301st Vienna derby, Austria know that a win is essential if they are to prolong their hopes of a first title since 2006. Ivica Vastić's team are four points behind this weekend's opponents and five adrift of FC Salzburg, champions in two of the past three seasons.

While Austria are coming off the back of a midweek cup quarter-final victory, Rapid are working hard to ensure Steffen Hofmann is fit for Sunday. "It doesn't look too bad, I'm eager to get involved," said Rapid's captain of his thigh injury.

All times CET.

Last updated: 05/12/13 7.13CET