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Capital derbies take centre stage this weekend

Published: Friday 19 October 2012, 9.13CET
Capital derbies in London, Sofia and Vienna feature in's pick of the weekend action, as do meetings of the top two in Serie A, Romania's First Division and Slovenia.

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Published: Friday 19 October 2012, 9.13CET

Capital derbies take centre stage this weekend

Capital derbies in London, Sofia and Vienna feature in's pick of the weekend action, as do meetings of the top two in Serie A, Romania's First Division and Slovenia.

England: Tottenham Hotspur FC v Chelsea FC (Saturday 13.45)
Tottenham head coach André Villas-Boas faces his old club for the first time since leaving Chelsea in March and will be buoyed by the fact Spurs have not lost at home in the league to their London rivals since August 2005. The Blues may have started the season in impressive form, sitting four points clear at the summit, but Villas-Boas is optismitic home support can make the difference on derby day.

"It's important to win, get closer to the top and show improvement to keep the flow we had before the [international] break," said Villas-Boas. "You can see the buzz around the ground because everyone looks forward to it. It will be extremely hard and we are ready to fight. Our stadium is a very special place to play when the fans are behind us. If the fans put on a show I am sure the lads will respond."

Italy: Juventus v SSC Napoli (Saturday 18.00)
Napoli test their Scudetto credentials against the side with whom they are level on points at the peak of Serie A. "When we play at our best we can beat any team," said coach Walter Mazzarri, whose charges lost 4-2 to Juventus in the Italian Super Cup two months ago.

Though FC Internazionale Milano and S.S. Lazio are not far behind, Bianconeri midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini believes Napoli are "our main opponents in the race for the title". The Partenopei have the division's best defensive record, having conceded only three times in seven games, and also possess the league's six-goal top scorer in Edinson Cavani. Juventus, unbeaten in 46 top-flight matches, have registered more goals – 17 – than any other team.

Slovenia: NK Maribor v NK Olimpija Ljubljana (Saturday 20.00)
Under the canny guidance of Andrej Razdrh, Olimpija have moved into second place behind Maribor following six straight First League wins. They travel to the Styrian capital in high spirits, while the champions have endured a difficult October, with Maribor defender Aleksander Rajčevič saying: "The international break came at the right time for us after two defeats. Olimpija are really on the rise, but we need to get back into the winning rhythm and this is an excellent opportunity to do that." Both sides are missing players through injury or suspension, yet Maribor remain the favourites to take the points having fallen just once to their traditional arch-rivals since Olimpija returned to the elite division in 2009.

Bulgaria: PFC CSKA Sofia v PFC Levski Sofia (Saturday 15.00)
Second-placed Levski look the form team going into the clubs' 130th league meeting yet CSKA coach Stoitcho Mladenov says there is nothing to choose between them. "I expect another great derby," he said. "The stakes could not be higher. I think we're gradually improving and we're confident. There has never been a favourite in this derby – form is irrelevant." Lying fifth in the A League, CSKA trail their visitors by eight points and come up against a coach, Ilian Iliev, who never lost to the Reds as a player though is winless against them as a manager.

Austria: FK Austria Wien v SK Rapid Wien (Sunday 16.00)
One of these two capital sides could be top of the Bundesliga come Sunday night. If leaders FC Salzburg slip up at home to Wolfsberger AC 24 hours earlier, Rapid or Austria will take the lead with victory in the derby. Austria won 3-0 when the teams met in August, but Rapid's hopes of revenge may be hindered by the absence of talismanic captain Steffen Hofmann, who has bruising around his eyes. "His vision is still impaired – we will not risk anything," said Rapid coach Peter Schöttel.

Romania: CS Panduurii Târgu Jiu v FC Steaua Bucureşti (Sunday 20.30)
How quickly Steaua's host of internationals recover from their FIFA World Cup qualifying exertions could influence this clash of the First Division's two frontrunners. Ciprian Tătărușanu, Vlad Chiricheş, Mihai Doru Pintilii, Alexandru Bourceanu, Adrian Popa and Alexandru Chipciu figured in either one or both of Romania's matches this week, while Daniel Georgievski turned out twice for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In contrast, midfielder Alexandru Maxim was the only Pandurii player on duty for his country.

Pandurii, triumphant in all five home league fixtures this term, are relishing the visit of the leaders. "For a team from a small city outside Bucharest, it should be a source of satisfaction to be in second place and to have such an important match in store," said coach Petre Grigoraș.

All times CET

Last updated: 27/03/14 13.51CET