Challengers meet in Italy and Spain

Serie A and the Primera División take centre stage with the top two coming together in each.

Players across Europe will be out to impress this weekend ahead of Wednesday's international programme. Hopefuls in Italy and Spain will get a perfect opportunity to do so as the top two go head to head in Serie A and the Primera División.

Sibling rivalry
Leaders AS Roma await the visit of Juventus FC to the Olimpico stadium on Sunday night in a game that many believe will have a huge say in where the title ends up this season. A point separates the two sides at the top of the Italian first division and a win for either would see them end the day leading the table - but a draw could let in Internazionale FC, who travel to Bologna FC earlier in the day. At the Delle Alpi stadium, Torino Calcio striker Cristiano Lucarelli, 26, will be up against his brother Alessandro, 24, a defender with Piacenza FC.

Valencia on top
New Spanish leaders Valencia CF host second-placed RC Celta de Vigo on Saturday evening, just three days after deposing Real Madrid CF at the summit. Four points separate the leading eight teams in Spain, and defeat for either side at the Mestalla stadium could see them plummet out of the top five if results go against them. Madrid, still reeling from Wednesday's defeat against Real Valladolid, hope to end their recent blip with a home victory against UD Las Palmas. Other crucial encounters see RC Deportivo La Coruña meet Villarreal FC and Real Betis Balmopié tackle Athletic Club Bilbao.

Lens look to extend lead
Le Championnat leaders RC Lens could move ten points clear with just nine matches remaining if they account for FC Metz at the Félix-Bollaert stadium and second-placed Olympique Lyonnais lose at Espérance Sportive Troyes AC on Saturday. Meanwhile, Olympique de Marseille continue their bid for a record eleventh French Cup win on Sunday. Old rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC stand between them and a place in the fifth round.

Capital gains for United?
The fierce struggle at the top of the FA Premiership in England continues with three of the four challengers facing testing away trips. Leaders Manchester United FC travel to Charlton Athletic FC on Sunday, while Arsenal FC, currently fourth, put their unbeaten away record on the line against Everton FC at Goodison Park. Saturday sees Liverpool FC visit an improving Ipswich Town FC side while second-placed Newcastle United FC face Southampton FC.

Bayern test for leaders
BV Borussia Dortmund, who moved four points clear at the top of the 1. Bundesliga on Wednesday, come up against reigning champions FC Bayern München at the Olympiastadion on Saturday. Bayern, unbeaten at home this season, are nine points adrift of the leaders, and need a victory to maintain their title hopes. Second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen are at home to struggling VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, while 1. FC Kaiserslautern visit SV Werder Bremen.

Dutch duel continues
Feyenoord and AFC Ajax, separated only by goal difference at the top of the Eredivisie, will be confident of victory on Sunday afternoon as they meet FC Groningen and RKC Waalwijk respectively. Meanwhile, Club Brugge KV's three-point lead in the Belgian first division could be under threat when they travel to meet lowly RAA Louviéroise - beaten just twice in ten home games this season.

Spring is in the air
With January but a distant memory, a number of the winter breaks are ending. The Czech first division is back under way, with leaders and current champions AC Sparta Praha seeking to make a winning return at home to mid-table SK Hradec Králové. It is a similar situation in Bulgaria, with leaders PFC Levski Sofia aiming to stave off the threat of PFC CSKA Sofia, who are now coached by Italian Luigi Simoni.