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Noisy neighbours meet again in Manchester

Published: Friday 7 December 2012, 11.34CET
Derby matches in Manchester, Athens and eastern France dominate the weekend skyline, with great games in store at the top ends of the Italian and Danish leagues.

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Published: Friday 7 December 2012, 11.34CET

Noisy neighbours meet again in Manchester

Derby matches in Manchester, Athens and eastern France dominate the weekend skyline, with great games in store at the top ends of the Italian and Danish leagues.

England: Manchester City FC v Manchester United FC (Sunday 14.30)
Sir Alex Ferguson labelled United's defending in last weekend's 4-3 win at Reading FC as "like a cartoon cavalcade", with eyebrows being raised at the usually obdurate Red Devils' vulnerability to crosses. "It's a worry, a concern," added Sir Alex, whose side have fallen behind in 15 games this season. "If we perform like that on Sunday, God knows what'll happen to us." Still, United's subsequent 1-0 home defeat by CFR 1907 Cluj hit them significantly less hard than a 1-0 loss at Borussia Dortmund and an early exit from Europe did City, who trail their neighbours by three points at the top of the table. "Now we've got to move on," said City midfielder Scott Sinclair – and what better way to do so than by creating a bit more noise to unhinge the neighbours?

Greece: Panathinaikos FC v Olympiacos FC (Sunday 18.30)
Rarely has a meeting of Greece's biggest footballing rivals seen such a huge gulf divide the two Athens teams. Defending champions Olympiacos head the standings and are 16 points clear of Panathinaikos in sixth, with the Greens' slow start having resulted in Juan Ramón Rocha replacing Jesualdo Ferreira as coach three weeks ago. Olympiacos boss Leonardo Jardim knows all about the passion this fixture inspires. "It's about the prestige, the sheer will to win," he said. This week, Olympiacos beat Arsenal FC while Panathinaikos lost 3-1 to the Gunners' arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur FC, though goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis felt that UEFA Europa League performance augured well. "Matches like the one against Tottenham help us gain experience and confidence," he said. "That will be helpful ahead of the derby against Olympiacos, where victory is a must."

Denmark: FC København v FC Nordsjælland (Sunday 19.00)
Nordsjælland took the Danish title from under FCK's noses on the final day of last term, and that memorable May occasion will not have been forgotten when the Superliga's front two meet again. A victory would give the Lions from the capital a 12-point lead going into the winter break, and with just 13 more games to come in the spring, the championship would be more or less theirs. Beaten 6-1 at Chelsea FC on Wednesday, Nordsjælland have had little time to pick themselves up as they travel to Parken Stadion, where intimidating statistics are lined up against them. FCK have taken 28 points from a potential 30 at home this season, and in their 17 previous home matches with Nordsjælland have won 12, drawn three and lost only twice.

Italy: FC Internazionale Milano v SSC Napoli (Sunday 20.45)
"I think the Scudetto is beyond us but I see more confidence in my players every day and the statistics can encourage us," said Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri ahead of Sunday's third v second encounter with Inter. Napoli won at Inter for the first time in 17 years last term, and the Partenopei were at their fiery best last weekend when humbling Pescara Calcio 5-1. The Nerazzurri, meanwhile, returned to winning ways against US Città di Palermo after a three-match lull. Surprisingly, Mazzarri decided not to rest Edinson Cavani for Napoli's UEFA Europa League game against PSV Eindhoven on Thursday. "Whenever I give him a rest, he plays badly in the following game, and I need him to be 100% ready for Inter," the coach said of the Uruguay striker, who has scored ten goals in 12 league outings this campaign.

France: AS Saint-Étienne v Olympique Lyonnais (Sunday 21.00)
A ten-game unbeaten streak has lifted St-Etienne to third place, five points short of Ligue 1 leaders Lyon in the run-up to the Derby du Rhône. The Stade Geoffroy-Guichard has been a 30,000 sell-out since Tuesday, with the 'Chaudron' (cauldron) heating up nicely as Les Verts seek their first home success against OL since 1994. "It's a very important game, in terms of the standings, our city, our fans," said their coach Christophe Galtier. St-Etienne have already overcome Paris Saint-Germain FC twice this term and have had extra time to prepare for the match, given Lyon were in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday. However, Rémi Garde's men have seen off Olympique de Marseille (4-1 away) and champions Montpellier Hérault SC in recent weeks and are not to be underestimated.

All times CET

Last updated: 04/12/13 7.39CET

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