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Titles and European berths going to the wire

Published: Friday 4 April 2014, 11.27CET
Our weekend preview finds Fenerbahçe SK aiming to all but clinch the title at Galatasaray AŞ, FC Midtjylland out to do similar in Denmark and Everton FC challenging Arsenal FC.
Titles and European berths going to the wire
Arsenal got the better of Everton in the FA Cup quarter-finals ©Getty Images features

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Published: Friday 4 April 2014, 11.27CET

Titles and European berths going to the wire

Our weekend preview finds Fenerbahçe SK aiming to all but clinch the title at Galatasaray AŞ, FC Midtjylland out to do similar in Denmark and Everton FC challenging Arsenal FC.

Denmark: FC Midtjylland v Aalborg BK (Saturday 17.00)
The outcome of the Danish Super League title could, in effect, be decided if leaders Midtjylland get the better of second-placed AaB. Midtjylland are searching for a maiden championship and victory would leave them five points clear of their visitors – and at least nine in front of FC København and Brøndby IF – with nine games to go. AaB can overtake them with a win, however, and both coaches seem to feel the others are favourites.

"AaB are better equipped than we are," said Midtjylland coach Glen Riddershol. "They have a number of players who have played in the Champions League and UEFA Cup, and who won the championship back in 2008." By contrast, opposite number Kent Nielsen argued: "Many of our players have never been in this situation before. We have no idea how they will react when things get really serious."

Turkey: Galatasaray AŞ v Fenerbahçe SK (Saturday 19.00)
Frontrunners Fenerbahçe make the short cross-Bosporus trip to 'Europe' with a ten-point advantage over their rivals, who are five matches without a win in a period spanning their UEFA Champions League elimination at Chelsea FC. Fenerbahçe won the reverse fixture 2-0 in November and are confident despite second-placed Galatasaray's fine home record.

"We are very happy, ambitious and in form at the moment," Fenerbahçe midfielder Selçuk Şahin said. "We want to continue our winning streak and to be honest we want to clinch the title as early as possible. We will play the game with this mentality."

Switzerland: Grasshopper Club v FC Zürich (Saturday 19.45)
Following a successful start to the second half of the season, Zürich are now three games without a win or even a goal, including a 3-0 loss at bottom side FC Lausanne-Sport. "The fact we aren't scoring any more is worrying me most," said coach Urs Meier. "Our opponents are well aware of our style of play and creating chances isn't as easy for us any more."

To make matters worse, Zürich, in fourth, now meet their neighbours Grasshoppers on a run of four straight victories. The second-placed outfit – who sit three points behind pacesetters FC Basel 1893 – have scored a Super League joint-high 50 goals, seven of them coming from new signing Munas Dabbur in his first seven appearances.

Spain: Real Sociedad de Fútbol v Real Madrid CF (Saturday 20.00)
Despite some indifferent Liga form of late, fifth-ranked Real Sociedad remain firmly in the hunt for Spain's fourth UEFA Champions League berth and they welcome a Madrid team who have suffered their own recent top-flight dip. Defeats by FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC mean Carlo Ancelotti's men are lagging behind Barça and leaders Club Atlético de Madrid in the standings with seven games to play.

However, La Real defender Alberto de la Bella sounded a warning to his team-mates. "We are certain Madrid are coming here to give everything," he said. "So we'll look to stand up to that challenge and take all three points at the Anoeta."

England: Everton FC v Arsenal FC (Sunday 14.30)
Until recently Arsenal's focus was solely on the title race with Chelsea FC, Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC; a recent slump finds them seven points adrift of the Reds and in danger of losing the fourth UEFA Champions League slot to the other major club from Merseyside. Arsenal beat Everton 4-1 in the FA Cup quarter-finals last month but now are only four points above the fifth-placed side and have played a game more.

On a streak of five straight Premier League wins, in which time Arsenal have both lost and drawn twice, Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard said: "We still have a sour taste in our mouths from what happened [in the FA Cup]. We will try and put that right at home. I don't think we showed well down there and not only do we want to get the right result, we want to put on a performance at home."

Belgium: RSC Anderlecht v Club Brugge KV (Sunday 20.00)
Last week the Belgian First League commenced its six-team championship play-off in which each side started on 50% of their regular-season points' tally. Reigning champions Anderlecht began in third and fell a place with a 1-0 loss at R. Standard de Liège, who now lead the Brussels outfit by eight points and are two clear of Club Brugge, who saw off KSC Lokeren OV 5-1 to confirm themselves as the main challengers.

"Expectations are allowed to be high at a big club like Club Brugge," said 35-year-old forward Eidur Gudjohnsen. "Looking at the qualities of the players, the coach and the staff we have, the ingredients are there. We now just have to make sure we take the maximum out of it. I always say, at the end of a season you finish where you deserve to be."

All times CET

Last updated: 04/04/14 15.06CET