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'Derby d'Italia' comes early this weekend

Published: Friday 13 September 2013, 9.00CET
A rare early-season meeting of FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus is the weekend highlight, along with key games for several European contenders and a stylish encounter in France.

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Published: Friday 13 September 2013, 9.00CET

'Derby d'Italia' comes early this weekend

A rare early-season meeting of FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus is the weekend highlight, along with key games for several European contenders and a stylish encounter in France.

Italy: FC Internazionale Milano v Juventus (Saturday, 18.00)
The 'Derby d'Italia' usually comes in the middle of the season, so it will be a strange feeling for football fans to watch the game in late summer climes. Another change to proceedings has been an absence of the feisty declarations that usually accompany the week leading up to this fixture. "We have a lot respect for Inter, as they have a great coach [in Walter Mazzarri]," said Gianluigi Buffon. "They are not involved in European competition this season and will fight until the end for the title."

The Bianconeri will be without the injured Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vučinić against Inter, while Javier Zanetti will be unavailable for the Nerazzurri. "They are definitely a great team – the best in Italy in the last few years," said the 40-year-old.

Germany: Borussia Dortmund v Hamburger SV (Saturday, 18.30)
Hamburg twice beat Dortmund last season, including a 3-2 win in September which ended the then champions' 31-game unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga, HSV can be considered somewhat of a bogey side for Dortmund. They have also found the net in Dortmund (67) more than any other club.

However, coach Thorsten Fink is not expecting anything to come easy. "They have not dropped a point yet, but we'd like to be an annoying opponent," he said. "If we can deliver a top-notch performance, we have a chance of springing a surprise." However, key players Marcell Jansen and Rafael van der Vaart are only just back from injuries and may not be match fit. Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski is out with a knee problem.

Netherlands: FC Twente v PSV Eindhoven (Saturday, 20.45)
PSV are unbeaten this term, three wins and two draws putting them two points adrift of Eredivisie leaders PEC Zwolle. Their hosts this weekend, meanwhile, are third, one of six sides to have picked up eight points from their first five matches. PSV, beaten 3-1 in Enschede on the final day of last season, have not won there since 2005, when Ibrahim Afellay struck the decisive blow.

Midfielder Kyle Ebecilio, who joined Twente from Arsenal FC this summer, is confident that run will continue. "I think we are the favorites," he said. "We are good at picking each other out on the pitch, we create a lot of chances and our defence is well organised."

Spain: Villarreal CF v Real Madrid CF (Saturday, 22.00)
At least one of the four teams who have made perfect starts to the new season – FC Barcelona, Club Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal and Real Madrid – will lose their 100% record this weekend. Despite the prospect of facing world-record signing Gareth Bale on his debut, Villarreal captain Bruno is confident his side can continue their impressive return to life in the top flight.

"Madrid are coming back [to El Madrigal]; last year we dreamed of playing in games like these," said the 29-year-old. "Personally, I hope that all of their best players will face us. We are keen to show we can do well and even go for the win. We will go into the match with the calmness that comes with three victories."

France: AS Monaco FC v FC Lorient (Sunday, 14.00)
This pits together the two teams responsible for the most attractive football so far this season. Claudio Ranieri's stellar Monaco side are top of the table and yet to taste defeat, thanks largely to five-goal top scorer Emmanuel Rivière. "It's a great start to the season, which was not inevitable as there were so many possibilities over the course of the summer," said Monaco defender Ricardo Carvalho. "Our team is still under construction, so it is a bonus to also earn points and build confidence."

In order to add to that early-season momentum, Monaco require victory against Lorient. Christian Gourcuff's team have managed a respectable start to the campaign – two wins, two losses – despite notable injuries including FIFA U-20 World Cup winner Mario Lemina.

Last updated: 14/09/15 12.29CET

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