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Excitement building in Germany and England

Published: Friday 21 September 2012, 10.39CET
FC Schalke 04 host FC Bayern München and Liverpool FC meet Manchester United FC, with big games in France, Russia, Spain and Finland also among the weekend highlights.

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Published: Friday 21 September 2012, 10.39CET

Excitement building in Germany and England

FC Schalke 04 host FC Bayern München and Liverpool FC meet Manchester United FC, with big games in France, Russia, Spain and Finland also among the weekend highlights.

Germany: FC Schalke 04 v FC Bayern München (Saturday 15.30)
Three wins from three have put Bayern top in Germany, but Schalke forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar likes a challenge. "We have a chance to show our fans what we can do and how far we've come as a side," he said. "To beat Bayern at home would be something special for everyone involved. We'll give it our best." Both teams missed penalties in winning their opening UEFA Champions League fixtures 2-1 and will look to be a little more clinical with their finishing. "Bayern are in good form and they've scored a lot of goals already, but we can't just focus on the opposition," added Huntelaar. "How we perform is the most important thing."

Russia: FC Terek Grozny v FC Lokomotiv Moskva (Saturday 18.15)
Five straight victories since a 5-0 loss to FC Alania Vladikavkaz have shot Terek to the top of the table. Having beaten FC Dinamo Moskva, FC Spartak Moskva, FC Rubin Kazan and FC Zenit St Petersburg in recent weeks, they will try to add Lokomotiv to their list of victims, though midfielder Maurício warned: "We can't get carried away. There are hard matches ahead." Lokomotiv are on song too, with coach Slaven Bilić in raptures after last Saturday's 1-0 defeat of Rubin. "Maybe the players think victories will come easily now," said the former Croatia boss. "But it is easier for me to bring them down to earth than to restore their confidence, so that's fine."

England: Liverpool FC v Manchester United FC (Sunday 14.30)
The footballing landscape has changed since these north-west rivals were the pre-eminent forces in English football, but games between the red halves of the cities remain intense. Sir Alex Ferguson is eager for fans to accentuate how much England's two most successful teams have in common, culturally. "It's a moment for those two great clubs to show why they're two great clubs," he said. Liverpool's glorious past seems distant at present as they await their first league win under Brendan Rogers. "This is no time to panic," said captain Steven Gerrard. "It has been a tough few weeks for us but I don't think it is anything we can't straighten out."

Finland: HJK Helsinki v FC Inter Turku (Sunday 17.30)
The Finnish title race will reach boiling point when HJK play host to Inter Turku, with only two points separating the top two in the Veikkausliiga with seven matches remaining. Inter's lead shrank on Monday, when a 3-3 draw against neighbours FC TPS Turku coincided with HJK's 4-1 win at Myllykosken Pallo-47, and the 2008 champions must hold their nerve if they are to keep at bay the side that have won the last three titles. "Of course there will be points to be won after this match, but the championship battle is often decided in games like these," said HJK midfielder Sakari Mattila. "It might turn out crucial that we regain top spot at this stage."

France: LOSC Lille v Olympique Lyonnais (Sunday 21.00)
LOSC will seek to bounce back after FC BATE Borisov handed them their heaviest European home defeat on Wednesday, having had one more day to recover than Lyon, who started their UEFA Europa League campaign against AC Sparta Praha. "Playing again four days after this setback might be the best thing for us," LOSC coach Rudi Garcia said in the wake of the 3-1 reverse. "We'll have to find solutions and make amends. We'll need our fans with us, though, to keep our chins up and move us forward." LOSC have not lost in their last four home games against Lyon.

Spain: Rayo Vallecano de Madrid v Real Madrid CF (Sunday 21.30)
Following the drama of their midweek UEFA Champions League win against Manchester City FC, José Mourinho's side dust themselves off for a visit to the Madrid suburb of Vallecas to face a Rayo team who are three points better off than the Merengues in the Liga. Rayo attacker Andrija Delibašić knows he and his team-mates can take little comfort from Madrid's shaky domestic form. "Even if Madrid only fielded seven or eight players, it wouldn't be easy," the Montenegrin international said. "Maybe they are not as on top of their game as they have been in the past, but they are still a great team."

All times CET

Last updated: 05/12/13 3.00CET