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Double jeopardy in France

Published: Friday 27 September 2002, 7.35CET
A number of teams are striving to stay top of their respective tables this weekend.

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Published: Friday 27 September 2002, 7.35CET

Double jeopardy in France

A number of teams are striving to stay top of their respective tables this weekend.
Something is likely to give when joint French leaders OGC Nice and AJ Auxerre take their near-identical records to FC Sochaux-Montbéliard and FC Nantes Atlantique this weekend.

Surprise package
Goal difference alone divides the sides, with surprise package Nice edging ahead. However, the newly promoted Riviera club are without four key players - Yoann Bigné, José Cobos, Noé Pamarot and Romain Pitau - for the trip to Sochaux tomorrow night. Those absences could be sorely felt against a Sochaux team who have lost just once in eight games.

Auxerre test
The three points will be just as hard to come by for Auxerre. Guy Roux's men go to Nantes in search of a pick-me-up from their UEFA Champions League defeat by BV Borussia Dortmund. The French programme is notable, too, for Olympique de Marseille's 800th league match at home against AC Ajaccio tonight.

Irresistible juggernauts
How to stop a juggernaut. That is the problem facing Arsenal FC and FC Bayern München's opponents this weekend as the English and German league leaders seek to strengthen their positions of primacy.

Mixed fortunes
Bayern visit Bayer 04 Leverkusen tomorrow looking for their sixth win in seven league games. Klaus Toppmöller's men finished above Bayern last term, but now find themselves looking up to the visitors - and 13 other 1. Bundesliga teams - after a false start to the campaign.

Restorative result
How Leverkusen could do with Michael Ballack and Zé Roberto, who return to the BayArena with their new side. Both teams failed to win on midweek Champions League duty, but Leverkusen's need for a restorative result is by far the greater.

Meeting of Borussias
Elsewhere, the Borussias meet at the Westfalenstadion with champions BV Borussia Dortmund taking on VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. Bottom club 1. FC Kaiserslautern visit 1. FC Nürnberg, while VfL Bochum 1848 host fellow high-fliers SV Werder Bremen.

Arsenal travel well
In England, Arsenal travel to fifth-placed Leeds United AFC boosted by Wednesday's Champions League triumph at PSV Eindhoven - their first away success in the competition in nine games. Arsène Wenger's double winners have travelled better in the Premiership and defend an away unbeaten run stretching back two seasons.

English calendar
Leeds manager Terry Venables will want a repeat of the form which brought victories against Manchester United FC and Newcastle United FC. Elsewhere, second-placed Liverpool FC visit Manchester City FC, while Chelsea FC entertain bottom club West Ham United FC in the London derby at Stamford Bridge.

Ground move
The most talked-about game in Spain is the one between Real Betis Balompié and FC Barcelona in Huelva. The match will take place at RC Recreativo de Huelva's ground, and not in Seville, as Betis start a two-match stadium ban.

Ronaldo out
Leaders RC Celta de Vigo try to maintain their 100 per cent record at home against Málaga CF while second-placed Valencia CF host Rayo Vallecano. Another unbeaten side, Real Madrid CF, visit Real Valladolid without the injured Ronaldo.

Milan on a roll
The third week of the Italian season sees the return of AC Milan defender Alessandro Nesta to former club S.S. Lazio. There will be no room for sentiment, though, as the Rossoneri look to add to their impressive midweek scalp of Deportivo and two Serie A wins.

Old boy's reunion
Marco Di Vaio will also be up against some familiar faces as Juventus FC, fresh from a 5-0 dismantling of FC Dynamo Kyiv, host Parma AC. The other two teams with perfect records, Internazionale FC and Piacenza FC, play AC Chievo Verona and Bologna FC respectively.

Eastern surprise
Foremost among the Romanian fixtures is the capital derby between FC Rapid Bucuresti and FC Dinamo Bucuresti, while Polish champions Legia Warszawa face a test at surprise early leaders GKS Katowice.

Last updated: 28/09/02 20.38CET

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