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Stern challenges for title hopefuls

Published: Friday 4 May 2012, 9.40CET
First plays second in Austria, Belgium and Hungary while AC Milan and Manchester City FC face a test of their title credentials as UEFA.com explains in our preview of Sunday's main action.

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Published: Friday 4 May 2012, 9.40CET

Stern challenges for title hopefuls

First plays second in Austria, Belgium and Hungary while AC Milan and Manchester City FC face a test of their title credentials as UEFA.com explains in our preview of Sunday's main action.

England: Newcastle United FC v Manchester City FC (Sunday 14.30)
Ebullient after Newcastle's 2-0 win against UEFA Champions League finalists Chelsea FC, Jonás Gutiérrez is relishing the prospect of facing leaders Manchester City FC in the first of two "big games" for the top-four hopefuls at the end of the season. Alan Pardew's team are level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur FC and one shy of Arsenal FC, in third, following Wednesday's success at Stamford Bridge, their seventh victory in eight outings.

"The squad and staff are working hard to do our best for those games, starting Sunday," the winger told the Newcastle website. "Manchester City know what is expected of them; they have to win if they want to be champions, so it will be a massive game."

Belgium: RSC Anderlecht v Club Brugge KV (Sunday 14.30)
The bubbly is on ice in Brussels with Anderlecht looking to seal their 31st Belgian title as Club Brugge come to the capital. Already six points clear of their guests at the end of the 30-game regular season, Les Mauves are now seven points ahead of second-ranked Club Brugge in the play-offs, and with just three games to go, a draw at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium would end the chase.

"On Sunday, we will just go for it," said goalkeeper Silvio Proto. "To pop the champagne corks after a game against Club Brugge would be really fantastic. That is what we are focusing on now. I have faith that things will go well on Sunday."

Austria: SK Rapid Wien v FC Salzburg (Sunday 16.00)
Three points above Rapid with four matches to play, Salzburg can take a huge step towards reclaiming the Bundesliga title they relinquished 12 months ago by winning in the Austrian capital. Salzburg coach Ricardo Moniz, whose team are unbeaten in all competitions since 3 March and play SV Ried in the cup final later this month, said: "We are physically very strong, everyone is fit again. That is very important for the decisive phase [of the campaign]. We are extremely hungry. We have the chance to do the double."

Moniz's charges won 3-1 when the teams met on 10 March while Rapid had earlier prevailed 4-2 in the sides' second meeting of the campaign in November, Salzburg's last away league defeat. Their other encounter, in August, finished goalless.

FYROM: FK Vardar v FK Rabotnicki (Sunday 16.30)
FK Vardar's hopes of clinching the league and cup double ended in Macedonian Cup semi-final defeat recently, but they can make amends by claiming their first championship title since 2003 if they continue their league form. Ten points clear at the top of the table with five games remaining, Vardar host Rabotnicki – Wednesday's losing cup finalists – in the 60th Skopje derby knowing a win will take them to within touching distance.

"We have beaten them twice already this season [1-0 and 2-1] and we have twice as many points as them in the league, but we're not deluding ourselves that it will be an easy derby," Vardar's captain and top scorer Filip Ivanovski told UEFA.com. "They are wounded lions." Vardar, however, remain one of only three teams in Europe still unbeaten in the league this term alongside Debrecen and Juventus.

Hungary: Győri ETO FC v Debreceni VSC (Sunday 18.00)
Seeking their sixth title in eight years, and their second domestic double in the last three seasons, Debrecen could go a long way to securing top spot as they visit second-ranked Győr.

Still unbeaten after 26 league games and five points above their hosts as they headed into the weekend, Debrecen are already on a high, having won the Hungarian Cup in midweek after their penalty shoot-out against MTK Budapest went into sudden death. Losing coach József Garami, mindful perhaps that a Debrecen double would put his side into the UEFA Europa League as losing cup finalists, had kind words for the victors, saying: "I'd like to congratulate Debrecen and wish them success in the league, and not just out of selfishness."

Italy: FC Internazionale Milano v AC Milan (Sunday 20.45)
Just one point adrift of Serie A's unbeaten leaders Juventus with two games to play, Milan know they have to beat city rivals Inter on Sunday if they are to stay in with a chance of defending their title. "Juve have still everything in their hands," said Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri. "But we want to bring the race to the last day of the season. Their recent draw against [US] Lecce shows that anything can happen."

Inter lost against Parma FC in midweek, falling three points behind SSC Napoli and Udinese Calcio in the chase for the last UEFA Champions League place. "We dropped crucial points, but the derby is the right match to bounce back," said Nerazzurri coach Andrea Stramaccioni.

All times CET

Last updated: 05/12/13 6.46CET

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