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Following the leaders

Published: Saturday 9 November 2002, 0.40CET
Milan and Munich host two of the weekend's most attractive fixtures, with AC Milan and FC Bayern München taking on their respective national champions.

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Published: Saturday 9 November 2002, 0.40CET

Following the leaders

Milan and Munich host two of the weekend's most attractive fixtures, with AC Milan and FC Bayern München taking on their respective national champions.
Juventus FC's match against AC Milan might have the marquee value but it is another northern side, Internazionale FC, who expect to occupy the high ground in Italy this weekend.

Tenancy of top spot
Héctor Cúper's men are three points clear of the rest in Serie A after winning 4-3 at Empoli FC in midweek - and can extend their tenancy of top spot with a home success against Udinese Calcio on Saturday.

Mixed fortunes
The following day, the second and third-placed teams meet at San Siro, with the latter missing several players through injury. Igor Tudor, Paolo Montero, Antonio Conte and David Trezeguet are all absent for Juventus. For Milan, it is the opposite problem, with Rivaldo, Filippo Inzaghi, Andriy Shevchenko and Jon Dahl Tomasson vying for forward places.

De Canio debut
Elsewhere, S.S. Lazio and AC Chievo Verona welcome Parma AC and Atalanta BC, while new Reggina Calcio coach Luigi De Canio takes his bow against Modena FC.

Top of the table clash
The focus of attention in Germany will be the top-of-the-table fixture between FC Bayern München and champions BV Borussia Dortmund. Leaders Bayern take a two-point advantage into the game at the Olympiastadion, against the only unbeaten team in the 1. Bundesliga.

Training ground fight
It has been a mixed week for Ottmar Hitzfeld's side. They might have ended a run of four games without a win by beating Hannover 96 in the German Cup, but that was overshadowed by a training-ground fight between team-mates Bixente Lizarazu and Niko Kovac.

TSV on the rise
If Bayern lose, they could be caught by city rivals TSV 1860 München, who visit Hamburger SV. Elsewhere, FC Schalke 04 host Bayer 04 Leverkusen, while Hertha BSC Berlin entertain FC Hansa Rostock.

Athletic crisis
Another coach under pressure is Athletic Club Bilbao's Jupp Heynckes. Athletic crashed out of the Spanish Cup against third-division opponents on Wednesday, and can expect little sympathy from Club Atlético de Madrid on Sunday.

Cup casualties
Athletic's Basque rivals Real Sociedad lead the Primera División and will hope to maintain that position at home to RC Deportivo La Coruña. Second-placed Valencia CF, another cup casualty, seek a restorative result against Real Betis Balompié.

Manchester derby
The top three sides in England are in action on Saturday. Circled in bold on the fixture list is Manchester United FC's trip to Maine Road, home of Manchester City. Arsenal FC, who lie second, are up against Newcastle United FC, while Premiership leaders Liverpool FC take their unbeaten record to Middlesbrough FC.

The chasing pack
The aim for the chasing pack in France is to overhaul the front two, Olympique Lyonnais and AJ Auxerre, who both won on Thursday. Paris Saint-Germain will go top if they beat FC Sochaux Montbéliard on Saturday, but must do so without injured star Ronaldinho.

Tough assignment
OGC Nice and Olympique de Marseille trail the Parisian side on goal difference and can boost their title hopes with victories against AS Monaco FC and En Avant Guingamp. Nice's is arguably the tougher assignment as Monaco make the short trip to the Stade du Ray for the Riviera derby.

Local bragging rights
Local bragging rights will also be at stake in Greece, where AEK Athens FC face Olympiakos Piraeus FC - a less than easy introduction to the Alpha Ethniki for new Olympiakos coach Srecko Katanec. In Sweden, meanwhile, a record crowd is expected at the Råsunda stadium as champions Djurgårdens IF FF take on AIK Solna in the Swedish Cup final.

Last updated: 09/11/02 18.44CET

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