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Stern tests in store for league leaders

Published: Friday 29 November 2013, 8.14CET
First plays third in Switzerland and Turkey, the top two meet in Croatia and stuttering Tottenham Hotspur FC take on a resurgent Manchester United FC side. Here comes the weekend.
Stern tests in store for league leaders
Basel striker Marco Streller (left) vies with YB's Dušan Veškovac last season ©AFP

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Published: Friday 29 November 2013, 8.14CET

Stern tests in store for league leaders

First plays third in Switzerland and Turkey, the top two meet in Croatia and stuttering Tottenham Hotspur FC take on a resurgent Manchester United FC side. Here comes the weekend.

Turkey: Fenerbahçe SK v Beşiktaş JK (Saturday 19.00)
Leaders Fenerbahçe aim to extend their five-game winning run in the Süper Lig which has earned them a six-point cushion and includes a 2-0 victory over another local rival Galatasaray AŞ. Against third-placed Beşiktaş, however, they will be without captain Emre Belözoğlu who could be sidelined for four weeks after sustaining a knee injury in training on Wednesday. Speaking about this Istanbul derby, Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel said: "We want to win and so do Beşiktaş. We have been going very well recently. The atmosphere within the team is very positive. We want to get three points and continue on our way."

England: Tottenham Hotspur FC v Manchester United FC (Sunday 13.00)
Fresh from registering their biggest UEFA Champions League away success – 5-0 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Wednesday – Manchester United head for north London to tackle a Tottenham side beaten 1-0 and then 6-0 (at Manchester City FC) in their last two top-flight outings. While André Villas-Boas's men have slipped to ninth in the Premier League, United are sixth, seven points shy of pacesetters Arsenal FC following a 2-2 draw at Cardiff City AFC last weekend. Chris Smalling, a scorer in Leverkusen, told United's in-house television station: "Nobody is really tired in the dressing room, the enthusiasm is really up and, if we can get a win at Spurs, we can consider this a good seven days."

Croatia: GNK Dinamo Zagreb v HNK Hajduk Split (Sunday 15.00)
With Hajduk threatening to dethrone Dinamo, this Eternal Derby fixture has added significance. A point behind the First League champions having played a game more, the Adriatic outfit have not won at Stadion Maksimir since 2008 – and before that 2003 when Milan Rapaić scored the only goal. If success in the capital comes every five years, this could be Hajduk's time. "We beat Dinamo [2-0 on 14 September] at our Poljud stadium, so we have a chance at Maksimir too," said Hajduk defender Mario Maloča. However, Dinamo midfielder Jerko Leko warned: "Since we can't qualify from our Europa League group, Hajduk could pay the price for our failure."

Switzerland: BSC Young Boys v FC Basel 1893 (Sunday 16.00)
A meeting of these teams remains one of the classic fixtures in Swiss football despite the Berne club not figuring in the title mix in recent Super League campaigns. The 16-point gap to Basel at the end of 2010/11 is the nearest the Stade de Suisse outfit have finished behind their rivals in the past three seasons – but 15 games into this term, that divide stands at just three points. Third-placed YB, who have not beaten the champions since 23 May 2012, face a Basel side brimming with belief after they completed a European double over Chelsea FC on Tuesday. "Our motivation for the match is huge, as is our confidence after the Chelsea game," said the frontrunners' No1 Yann Sommer.

France: Paris Saint-Germain FC v Olympique Lyonnais (Sunday 21.00)
Seventh in Ligue 1, Lyon have lost four of their six away fixtures this season, though they did prevail 2-1 at local rivals AS Saint-Étienne three weeks ago. Paris, in contrast, are flying – they stand four points clear at the summit, they have not been beaten since 2 March and they boast two of the division's three nine-goal top scorers, Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimović. "Getting through to the last 16 will enable us to focus on the league," said the Parisians' coach Laurent Blanc after the 2-1 midweek UEFA Champions League victory over Olympiacos FC that confirmed progress in Europe's premier club competition.

Spain: Athletic Club v FC Barcelona (Sunday 21.00)
Still undefeated at their new San Mamés home, fifth-ranked Athletic welcome the Liga leaders, whose morale was dented by a UEFA Champions League reverse at AFC Ajax on Wednesday. "We can't just shut up shop because when you sit back against them, sooner or later they will score," Athletic midfielder Ander Herrera explained. Sunday's hosts have played out two 2-2 home draws with Barcelona in the last two campaigns and Herrera is hoping his side can prove just as stubborn against Gerardo Martino's team this time around. "In those two games we deserved to win because we stayed true to our style and attacked them," the 24-year-old added.

All times CET

Last updated: 29/11/13 12.12CET

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