Real Madrid CF are aiming to move ahead of the pack on a busy night of European football.
There is significant league action tonight in Germany, France and Spain, where Real Madrid CF are aiming to charge back to the top of the Primera División.
Tight at the top
Just one point separates the top five clubs in Spain and Madrid travel to Real Valladolid knowing that a win will put them three points clear of RC Celta de Vigo and RC Deportivo La Coruña, who played on Tuesday. Of the nine other Spanish first division fixtures the clash between fifth-placed Deportivo Alavés and fourth-placed Valencia CF is arguably the pick.
Barcelona looking to build
Meanwhile, FC Barcelona face struggling Real Sociedad looking to build on Sunday’s 6-0 demolition of CD Tenerife and get back in the title hunt. However, coach Carles Rexach is refusing to take victory for granted. "People think that it is easy to beat teams who are lower in the table but it is much more complicated than that," he said.
Top four in action
In Germany, the top four in the 1. Bundesliga are all in action. BV Borussia Dortmund currently lead the way on 43 points and will look to cement their position with victory against struggling FC Hansa Rostock. After losing against FC Bayern München on Sunday, second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen face another tricky game when they play the inconsistent but occasionally brilliant FC Schalke 04.
Bayern missing five players
European and German champions Bayern travel to FC St. Pauli with Bixente Lizarazu, Pablo Thiam, Alexander Zickler, Hasan Salihamidzic and Michael Tarnat all missing through injury or suspension. Hamburg-based St. Pauli have won just two games all season, however, so Ottmar Hitzfeld's men will be confident of securing just their second league win in three months. The other major game in Germany sees third-placed 1. FC Kaiserslautern hosting Hamburger SV.
Juventus target cup win
In Italy, the Coppa Italia takes centre stage as Juventus FC meet Milan AC in the second leg of the semi-finals at the Delle Alpi stadium. The Turin side, seeking to become the first club to win the competition ten times, lead 2-1 after the first leg in Milan.
Di Canio out
There is more cup action in England where FA Premiership sides West Ham United FC and Chelsea FC meet in an FA Cup fourth-round replay for the right to face Preston North End FC in the last 16. West Ham manager Glenn Roeder will recall England Under-21 international forward Jermain Defoe to replace the suspended Paolo di Canio.
Lens eight clear
There are eight first division fixtures in France, with leaders RC Lens looking to maintain their eight-point lead at the top. They travel to AJ Auxerre while second-placed Olympique Lyonnais face struggling Stade Rennais FC.
Injury problems for Feyenoord
In the Netherlands, Feyenoord can go top of the Dutch Eredivisie on goal difference if they beat bottom-placed SC Fortuna Sittard. However coach Bert van Maarwijk will be without Jan de Visser, Ulrich van Gobbel, Ferry de Haan, Civard Sprockel, Ramon van Haaren and Pieter Collen, who are all injured. In Belgium’s Jupiler League, second meet third as KRC Genk face RSC Anderlecht - a win for the former would see them go top of the table at the expense of Club Brugge KV.
Sporting in action
In Portugal, finally, Sporting Clube de Portugal can extend their lead in the 1. Liga to four points if they beat CS Marítimo. Sporting’s Brazilian sharpshooter Mario Jardel will be aiming to add to his incredible season's tally of 28 goals from 18 games.