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Old acquaintances and renewed rivalries top bill

Published: Friday 18 October 2013, 9.23CET
Old friends meet in Madrid, first plays third in the Eredivisie, Southampton FC seek an Old Trafford first and a rivalry is renewed in Italy. picks out the weekend's key matches.

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Published: Friday 18 October 2013, 9.23CET

Old acquaintances and renewed rivalries top bill

Old friends meet in Madrid, first plays third in the Eredivisie, Southampton FC seek an Old Trafford first and a rivalry is renewed in Italy. picks out the weekend's key matches.

Germany: Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96 (Saturday, 15.30)
Following their first Bundesliga defeat of the season at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach last time out, Dortmund are a point short of FC Bayern München at the summit as they look to bounce back against fifth-placed Hannover. Still troubled by injuries to key players including Sebastian Kehl, İlkay Gündoğan and Łukasz Piszczek, coach Jürgen Klopp must also do without suspended centre-back Mats Hummels.

With an important UEFA Champions League match at Arsenal FC looming, Klopp was relieved to have the international break to ensure six of his potential XI had time to shake off knocks sustained against Gladbach. If statistics are anything to go by then Dortmund should relish this fixture: Hannover have kept one clean sheet in their last 39 Bundesliga encounters with Dortmund, while Mirko Slomka's team are still to pick up an away point this term.

Spain: Real Madrid CF v Málaga CF (Saturday 16.00)
Familiar faces cross paths at the Santiago Bernabéu when tenth-placed Málaga, under the tutelage of ex-Madrid midfielder and coach Bernd Schuster, meet Carlo Ancelotti's men, who have La Rosaleda alumnus Isco in their ranks. The 21-year-old swapped the Costa del Sol for the Spanish capital in June but despite his inspiring form in recent weeks, Madrid find themselves five points behind pacesetters FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid.

"We have a lot of respect for Isco but every player has to look after their own club, and for us there are three very important points to play for," said Málaga defender Weligton. "We will look to produce our best but will need to impose our rhythm to get a result."

England: Manchester United FC v Southampton FC (Saturday 16.00)
Even the most optimistic Southampton fan would not have dreamed that their side would be fourth in the Premier League, four points clear of Saturday's hosts Manchester United, after seven games. However, this is exactly the position they are in. Mauricio Pochettino's charges are built on a tight defence, boasting the division's best record of just two goals conceded. The south-coast team will be on their guard, though, having gained only one point from 14 Premier League trips to Old Trafford.

"We'll do anything not to be beaten," said Saints forward Jay Rodriguez. "We're well organised and we've worked hard throughout the season so far. It's about team spirit and showing we're hard to beat." In case they needed extra motivation, Southampton go into the match knowing they can inflict successive home defeats on United for the first time since May 2002.

Netherlands: FC Twente v AFC Ajax (Saturday 20.45)
First welcomes third at the top of the Eredivisie on Saturday as Ajax go to Twente. The Amsterdam club lie a point behind both their opponents and PSV Eindhoven, and will need to improve on a disappointing away record to leapfrog the joint leaders. Frank de Boer's charges are without a win in four on the road having lost twice and drawn twice but can take solace from the fact the Enschede outfit have not beaten them at home in the league since 8 November 2009.

"Both sides are teams who want to have the ball and take the initiative," said Twente coach Michel Jansen, undefeated on home soil this term. "I am curious to see how my players cope with the fact the Ajax match is the first one we play as leaders."

Bulgaria: PFC CSKA Sofia v PFC Levski Sofia (Saturday 15.00)
CSKA may be fourth in the Bulgarian A League and four points clear of their neighbours in sixth but the Reds will be wary of a Levski squad eager to impress new coach Antoni Zdravkov following his appointment as Slaviša Jokanović's successor last week. "We will plan two or three things for the Sofia derby," Zdravkov said after last Saturday's 5-0 Bulgarian Cup victory at PFC Pirin Gotse Delchev. "We will approach the game with more confidence. It was a tough decision for me to take charge of the first team as we don't have enough time to prepare for the derby but I am not worried."

If CSKA have one thing in their advantage, it is the derby experience of boss Stoycho Mladenov: he played in 16 of them and has now coached in nine.

Italy: ACF Fiorentina v Juventus (Sunday 15.00)
Fiorentina have become renowned for attractive, attacking football under coach Vincenzo Montella yet even the former AS Roma and UC Sampdoria forward will be happy to win ugly when his side face Juventus in Florence on Sunday. "We want to beat Juve to make our fans happy," said Montella. "This is a special game for our supporters and we hope to win, regardless of whether we play the best football."

The Viola will have to do it without leading forward Mario Gomez, though they can call on in-form Giuseppe Rossi, while the Old Lady are deprived of injured strikers Mirko Vučinić and Fabio Quagliarella. "Juve are still in pole position for the Scudetto," said Rossi. "But we will try to beat them."

All times CET

Last updated: 10/12/13 10.29CET

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