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French rivals top weekend bill

Published: Saturday 9 August 2003, 0.50CET
The top two teams in Ligue 1 last season meet on Saturday night as the 2003/04 campaign gets into gear.

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Published: Saturday 9 August 2003, 0.50CET

French rivals top weekend bill

The top two teams in Ligue 1 last season meet on Saturday night as the 2003/04 campaign gets into gear.
The top two teams in France's Ligue 1 last season meet this weekend as the new campaign gets into gear across Europe.

Title rivals
On Saturday night, 2002/03 runners-up AS Monaco FC visit champions Olympique Lyonnais after mixed fortunes for the pair on the opening day. While Monaco cruised to a 2-0 win against FC Girondins de Bordeaux, Lyon's title defence began with a 1-0 defeat by Lille OSC. Lyon know a victory is vital even at this early stage, with midfield player Vikash Dhorasoo saying: "This is a match we must win - an important game against one of our title rivals."

Pauleta debut
Monaco were the only team to beat Lyon twice last term and striker Shabani Nonda, who nearly joined the champions over the summer, said: "It is a six-pointer, but we are prepared for that." The other French highlight will be Pauleta's Paris Saint-Germain FC debut in the away game at LOSC.

Bayern test
After last week's spectacular opening to the Bundesliga season produced 28 goals, FC Bayern München travel to Hannover 96 searching for their first win there in 17 years. Both go into the match on the back of victories - Bayern overcoming Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1, Hannover securing an excellent 3-0 win at Hamburger SV - and Saturday's home team already look an improvement on the side that finished eleventh last time out.

Sunday service
Bayer 04 Leverkusen may only have narrowly escaped relegation in 2002/03, but they sit top of this season's embryonic table having beaten SC Freiburg 4-1, and head to Eintracht on Sunday full of confidence. That day's other game sees Hertha BSC Berlin, 3-0 losers against SV Werder Bremen last week, in action at VfB Stuttgart.

Heat wave
All afternoon kick-offs will go ahead as scheduled, after the German Football Association decided against putting games back to the evening due to the heat.

English showdown
There is still a week to go before the English Premiership begins, but the country's two leading clubs - Manchester United FC and Arsenal FC - face off on Sunday in the annual FA Community Shield, the equivalent of other nation's super cups.

Record chasers
Premiership champions United, now without midfield players David Beckham and Juan Sebastián Verón, go into the match at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium looking to win the shield for a record 15th time, but have lost on their last four appearances in the fixture. FA Cup holders Arsenal will hope to retain the shield they won 12 months ago against Liverpool FC.

Big kick-offs
The big Istanbul clubs start their annual race for the Turkish title with Besiktas JK keen to maintain their ascendancy over Galatasaray SK and Fenerbahçe SK. Elsewhere, the Scottish Premier League commences with Rangers FC hoping to stay ahead of Celtic FC, while RSC Anderlecht look set to provide stiff opposition for Club Brugge KV in Belgium.

Licence to thrill
Elsewhere, the Polish Ekstraklasa begins after a summer where clubs have been concentrating on meeting strict new licensing criteria, while the leagues in Romania and Serbia and Montenegro also kick off.

Last updated: 09/02/11 18.58CET

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