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Bayern plotting Dortmund's downfall

Published: Friday 30 November 2012, 9.25CET
FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund meet in a clash of German titans, with the city derbies in Zurich and Haifa among the weekend programme's more esoteric delights.

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Published: Friday 30 November 2012, 9.25CET

Bayern plotting Dortmund's downfall

FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund meet in a clash of German titans, with the city derbies in Zurich and Haifa among the weekend programme's more esoteric delights.

Germany: FC Bayern München v Borussia Dortmund (Saturday 18.30)
Ahead of the Bundesliga's clash of the titans, table-topping Bayern lead Dortmund by 11 points, so a victory is crucial for Jürgen Klopp's men if they are to maintain their dream of a third successive German championship. Dortmund, currently third, have won their last four league games against Bayern, and captain Sebastian Kehl said: "Of course we will try to win on Saturday, but Bayern have a clear points advantage and are very consistent."

Bayern prevailed 2-0 at SC Freiburg on Wednesday to become 'winter champions', yet skipper Philipp Lahm wants more. "We will be at the top for the winter and that is very important," Lahm said. "However, we still have a few games until the break and we want to increase our lead, finish top of our Champions League group and reach the next round of the German Cup. We will keep our focus."

Netherlands: AFC Ajax v PSV Eindhoven (Sunday 20.45)
Ajax can close the gap on leaders PSV to three points at the Amsterdam ArenA. Frank de Boer's fourth-placed side have dropped valuable points this autumn, failing to win in four games around their UEFA Champions League encounters with Manchester City FC, yet have nonetheless taken maximum plunder from their last two. Meanwhile, PSV's eight-match Eredivisie winning streak ended with a 2-1 home defeat by Vitesse last weekend – though they produced plenty of chances.

PSV captain Mark van Bommel still thinks this is a good time to take on Ajax, whom the pacesetters beat 4-2 in Amsterdam in the season-opening Dutch Super Cup. "It is a good thing we now have to go to Amsterdam," said the 35-year-old. "I would only be worried if we had played well against Vitesse and not created any chances."

Switzerland: Grasshopper Club v FC Zürich (Sunday 16.00)
This city derby will be a tale of the haves and the have-nots, with Super League frontrunners Grasshoppers' success this season in stark contrast to a grim time for Zürich, whose form – especially at home – prompted them to get rid of coach Rolf Fringer on Monday.

Seventh place in the ten-team table is a grim position for a club that beat AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League just a couple of years back. Having appointed youth coach Urs Meier as caretaker boss, FCZ president Ancillo Canepa said: "When things go badly there are many reasons – it is not just the coach's fault." Grasshoppers' form, meanwhile, is not as great as their lofty league status suggests – they have collected only two points from their last four outings.

Austria: FC Salzburg v FK Austria Wien (Sunday 16.00)
Second entertain first in a meeting of Austria's highest-scoring sides, with both teams having registered 39 times in their first 17 Bundesliga games. Home advantage may be a crucial factor for Salzburg, who have won their last four matches at the Stadion Salzburg and defeated Austria Wien 1-0 in the capital in September. The Viennese club, however, have triumphed in their last six league fixtures and, with Salzburg missing four central defenders through injury and suspension, there may be weak spots to probe.

"Austria have a good team and it's obviously no surprise that they are at the top of the standings," said Martin Hinteregger, who will anchor the Salzburg rearguard. "We have to win this game. We simply cannot afford to lose against Austria."

Israel: Hapoel Haifa FC v Maccabi Haifa FC (Sunday 19.15)
An emotional contest at the best of times, this Haifa derby has the added factor of both sides unexpectedly languishing at the wrong end of the Premier League. Tenth in the 14-team competition, Maccabi fired coach Reuven Atar and promptly beat Beitar Jerusalem FC on Monday in their first game under his replacement, former Israel defender Arik Benado, who said: "We are starting a whole new process. I believe things will turn our way soon."

Benado will be up against his ex-international team-mate Nir Klinger, whose Hapoel squad have won only one of their 11 league fixtures – and are rooted to the foot of the division. "We can't stop thinking about this game," said Klinger. "It is never only about three points – and given the circumstances, it is even bigger than that."

Last updated: 04/12/13 18.58CET