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Title rivals in Spain, Italy, France test credentials

Published: Friday 14 December 2012, 10.08CET
Derbies are the entree before Sunday's main course is served, with FC Barcelona v Club Atlético de Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain FC v Olympique Lyonnais the choice cuts.

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Published: Friday 14 December 2012, 10.08CET

Title rivals in Spain, Italy, France test credentials

Derbies are the entree before Sunday's main course is served, with FC Barcelona v Club Atlético de Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain FC v Olympique Lyonnais the choice cuts.

England: Queens Park Rangers FC v Fulham FC (Saturday 16.00)
Without a win in their first 16 games – a Premier League record – QPR are eight points from safety and staring down the relegation barrel. The challenge of leading them out of the mire falls to Harry Redknapp, who replaced Mark Hughes at the helm last month and has a bit of previous in the miraculous escapes department with Portsmouth FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC. This may be his toughest rescue act yet. He has started with three draws and now comes a west London derby against Fulham, who were wobbling themselves until Monday's 2-1 triumph over Newcastle United FC. Redknapp has injected a bit of belief, but as midfielder Stéphane Mbia said: "It is up to the players to get us out of this."

Turkey: Galatasaray AŞ v Fenerbahçe SK (Saturday 18.00)
Life will pause for 90 minutes in Turkey when Istanbul giants Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe go head to head. Reeling from their shock midweek Turkish Cup loss to second-tier 1461 Trabzon, UEFA Champions League contenders Galatasaray will establish a five-point lead over their second-placed opponents with victory. "The derby is very important for us," said Cimbom coach Fatih Terim. "We'll do everything possible not to let the result of the cup match affect this game." Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel added: "For two to three weeks we've been thinking about this match. We have to remain calm, whatever the situation."

Italy: S.S. Lazio v FC Internazionale Milano (Saturday 20.45)
After leapfrogging SSC Napoli into second spot last weekend following their 2-1 home win against the Partenopei, Inter face another test of their Scudetto credentials. Andrea Stramaccioni's team are four points behind Juventus – who on Sunday host Atalanta BC – ahead of their trip to the Stadio Olimpico, where fourth-placed Lazio, eight games unbeaten, have defeated AC Milan, AS Roma and Udinese Calcio this term. "Lazio are playing well, they're a big team with big players," said Inter captain Javier Zanetti. "Playing in Rome has never been easy for us, so we must stay focused."

Belgium: SV Zulte Waregem v KRC Genk (Sunday 14.30)
It is second against third in Belgium but on Thursday there was a world between them as Genk romped to a 5-0 away win in the first leg of their Belgian Cup quarter-final tie. Mario Been's side opted not to return home after the match, staying on as they prepare for a game that could see them overhaul their opponents in the First League table. Forward Elyaniv Barda, who claimed a goal and four assists in Waregem in midweek, warned: "It will be a very different contest. We must not misjudge this result, because cup competitions are governed by different laws. Zulte Waregem are better than that. "

Spain: FC Barcelona v Club Atlético de Madrid (Sunday 21.00)
A Fernando Torres double helped the Rojiblancos to their last win at the Camp Nou – a 3-1 victory in February 2006. Since then Atlético have drawn once and lost seven times away to Barcelona, shipping 25 goals in the process. This time around, however, Xavi Hernández believes the leaders are in for a sterner test against the Liga's second-placed outfit. "This is one of the most attractive games of the season," said the 32-year-old. "Atlético have lost very few matches this term and in Falcao they have a striker who can make all the difference." Indeed, the Colombian international hit five against RC Deportivo La Coruña last weekend.

France: Paris Saint-Germain FC v Olympique Lyonnais (Sunday 21.00)
Second entertain first in Ligue 1 and PSG can move above their rivals on goal difference if they triumph. The momentum is certainly with them – Carlo Ancelotti's men have won their last two games 4-0, most recently inflicting a first home defeat of the campaign on upwardly mobile Valenciennes FC on Tuesday. "A lot of things have changed over the last ten days," observed Ancelotti, who had said his club were in crisis after a 2-1 loss at OGC Nice on 1 December. Lyon have beaten Olympique de Marseille, champions Montpellier Hérault SC and arch-rivals AS Saint-Étienne since then, before Wednesday's 1-1 home draw with lowly AS Nancy-Loraine.

All times CET

Last updated: 04/12/13 7.38CET

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