The Rome derby between AS Roma and S.S. Lazio is the pick of the action on a fine weekend of European football.
Both clubs go into their 120th meeting on the back of impressive results in Europe. Roma won at Valencia CF in the UEFA Champions League nine days ago, while Lazio negotiated a tricky away tie at Wisla Krákow on Wednesday to reach the UEFA Cup quarter-finals. Although a return trip from Poland might appear to put Lazio at a disadvantage, Roma could have the greater hurdle to overcome. Captain Francesco Totti, who scored twice at the Mestalla, is struggling with flu.
Serie A leaders Juventus FC are also missing players for the journey to Udinese Calcio. Alessandro Del Piero has recovered from a thigh injury but fallen victim to flu, while Pavel Nedved has a chest problem. Meanwhile, Internazionale FC, who are three points behind in second place, travel to Bologna FC. Coach Héctor Cúper is expected to rest Christian Vieri and play Gabriel Batistuta alongside Alvaro Recoba, whose three-match Champions League ban has been upheld by UEFA.
Top of the bill in Spain is Valencia's home game against Club Atlético de Madrid. The defending champions need a win to keep pace with league leaders Real Madrid CF, and will fancy their chances against injury-hit Atlético. The visitors are without Fernando Torres and goalkeeper Germán Burgos - who left hospital on Thursday after successful surgery to remove a kidney tumour - plus the suspended Luis García.
Madrid, meanwhile, are likely to field Francisco Pavón in central defence with Fernando Hierro and Luis Helguera out for the visit of Real Racing Club Santander. The Merengues have a one-point advantage over Real Sociedad, who have a Basque derby at home against Deportivo Alavés, with Valencia a further point adrift. Elsewhere, FC Barcelona host Real Valladolid, while Real Betis Balompié head to cup finalists RCD Mallorca.
The title race continues apace in France. AS Monaco FC, who lead on goal difference from Olympique de Marseille, take on fourth-placed FC Girondins de Bordeaux at the Stade Louis II in a game crucial to both clubs' Champions League ambitions. Monaco are the form team, having defeated FC Gueugnon 5-0 in a League Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 500 extra police have been drafted in to keep the peace at Marseille's match against Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Vélodrome. PSG won the November meeting of these arch-rivals, so Alain Perrin's men will be out for revenge. Defending champions Olympique Lyonnais, who are four points behind the front two in third place, entertain AJ Ajaccio.
FA Cup intrigue
In England, the spotlight falls on the FA Cup. The outstanding quarter-final tie brings together Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Highbury. There are possible giant-killings as First Division sides Sheffield United FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC face Leeds United AFC and Southampton FC respectively. In the weekend's only Premiership game, Liverpool FC and Bolton Wanderers FC meet at Anfield.
The top and bottom teams in Germany will want to carry cup form into the league. FC Bayern München, who set up a DFB-Pokal final meeting with 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Wednesday, play it again against semi-final opponents Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the Olympiastadion. Kaiserslautern, meanwhile, are home to 1. FC Nürnberg. Another struggling side, VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach tackle BV Borussia Dortmund, who are second in the table, ten points behind Bayern. Elsewhere in Europe, the league programme resumes in Hungary and Romania after the winter break.