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Fierce rivalries lead choice weekend lineup

Published: Friday 1 March 2013, 9.55CET
UEFA.com's survey of the weekend action takes in derbies in Istanbul and north London, key matches in Cyprus and the Netherlands, and Spain's sixth Clásico of the season.

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Published: Friday 1 March 2013, 9.55CET

Fierce rivalries lead choice weekend lineup

UEFA.com's survey of the weekend action takes in derbies in Istanbul and north London, key matches in Cyprus and the Netherlands, and Spain's sixth Clásico of the season.

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona (Saturday 16.00)
The visiting Liga leaders are 16 points clear of their third-placed opponents and have not lost a top-flight game at the Santiago Bernabéu since May 2008. Tuesday's Copa del Rey defeat by José Mourinho's side – their second reverse in three matches – has dented Barcelona's morale, however, and the Catalan team will look to respond in the Spanish capital.

"We've had a fantastic season to date but when you are eliminated from a competition by Madrid it always hurts," said midfielder Xavi Hernández after the 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate) midweek loss at Camp Nou. "The two biggest trophies are still to play for and we just need to find our form," he added.

AC Milan v S.S. Lazio (Saturday 20.45)
Having lost ground to Lazio last weekend when they drew 1-1 with FC Internazionale Milano, Massimiliano Allegri's fourth-placed Milan can leapfrog the Rome club into third by triumphing at San Siro. Consequently, Rossoneri goalkeeper Marco Amelia knows just how significant his side's 27th Serie A match of the campaign is.

"By winning on Monday [2-0 against Pescara Calcio] Lazio overtook us, so a victory would be invaluable," he said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the three points in the derby and now we are facing a side eager to protect their position in the table. But we are a great team, as the Barcelona game showed, and we will prove it again."

Lazio will be without striker Miroslav Klose (knee) and captain Stefano Mauri, who has not recovered from the right ankle injury he sustained against SSC Napoli on 9 February.

FC Twente v AFC Ajax (Saturday 20.45)
Steve McClaren stood down as Twente coach on Tuesday with the Tukkers in fifth position, having failed to win any of their six Eredivisie fixtures in 2013. Interim boss Alfred Schreuder, promoted from his position as McClaren's assistant, is not intending to make big changes in a bid to stop the rot.

"In the second half at sc Heerenveen [a 2-1 defeat last Saturday] we played well," he said. "We can build on that. Everyone thinks differently about football but, looking at the bigger picture, we will continue in the same way."

With ten matches to play, Twente are six points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven and four shy of second-placed Ajax, whose own winless sequence stretched to three games in all competitions when they lost 3-0 at home to AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Cup on Wednesday.

AEK Larnaca FC v APOEL FC (Sunday 17.00)
Second-placed APOEL aim to extend their run of Division A victories to four when they visit AEK, a team six points worse off in third – but one who shocked Ivan Jovanović's side 2-1 in Nicosia in November. Closing in on a berth in the end-of-season play-offs, APOEL will draw level with Anorthosis Famagusta FC if they prevail and the leaders come unstuck at Ethnikos Achnas FC.

Jovanović has been boosted by the January arrival of striker Dudu Biton, who scored his third goal in as many top-flight outings during Wednesday's 1-0 win against Ethnikos Achnas – when AEK equalised in added time to draw 2-2 at champions AEL Limassol FC.

Tottenham Hotspur FC v Arsenal FC (Sunday 17.00)
Tottenham go into Sunday's north London derby driven not only by the chance to avenge November's 5-2 loss to the Gunners but also by the opportunity to move seven points clear of their neighbours in the race for a UEFA Champions League spot.

Gareth Bale has been in inspired form for André Villas-Boas's team in recent weeks and the Welsh international's last-gasp winner at West Ham United FC on Monday lifted them into third position, five points behind Manchester City FC and two above Chelsea FC in fourth.

"The gap to second isn't big," said Villas-Boas. "We face Arsenal and it is a big opportunity to increase the distance to them. Our priority is to establish our position and hopefully get a more comfortable cushion between us and Chelsea and Arsenal. To go seven points clear of Arsenal is a better margin, but it is not enough."

Beşiktaş JK v Fenerbahçe SK (Sunday 18.00)
This meeting of Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe, third and second respectively, will be more than just a city rivalry as both Istanbul sides continue their pursuit of Turkish Super League leaders Galatasaray AŞ. Fenerbahçe miss Sezer Öztürk because of an ankle injury, while Beşiktaş are without Hugo Almeida, Dentinho and Mustafa Pektemek, and have fitness doubts about midfielders Oğuzhan Özyakup and Necip Uysal.

The Black Eagles' chances look even less positive considering they have not won a home league game in 2013. Their visitors have a perfect away record in the same period. "We have good form in the league," said Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman. "I have no doubt the players will put in a huge effort to win this match. A victory would be a big boost for the team."

Last updated: 04/12/13 6.46CET

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