Weekend review: Champions League hopefuls warm up

It was an eventful weekend for Europe's top clubs ahead of the UEFA Champions League resumption.

It was an eventful weekend of domestic action for Europe's top clubs ahead of their return to UEFA Champions League action this week.

Four off for Galatasaray
There were mixed fortunes for the four teams contesting Group B in the second group stage. In Turkey, the leaders Galatasaray SK had four players sent off on Saturday as they lost a crunch match against city rivals Fenerbahçe SK 1-0. The only goal of the game came on 27 minutes from Milan Rapajic. Galatasaray will hope for better discipline on Wednesday when they take on a rested Liverpool FC.

Capello defends Totti decision
The other Group B tie this week sees AS Roma visit FC Barcelona on Wednesday. The Italian club's coach Fabio Capello left out playmaker Francesco Totti for the 0-0 draw against Brescia Calcio on Sunday. "I discussed it with him [Totti] before the match," Capello said. "He played on Wednesday for Italy and he has been travelling back and forth. In three days' time I need him healthy and rested for the match against Barcelona."

Barcelona battle back
Barcelona will be in confident mood after twice coming from behind to defeat RC Deportivo La Coruña 3-2 in Spain. The Catalans battled back through Luis Enrique, Javier Saviola and Patrick Kluivert. UEFA Cup hopefuls Valencia CF, meanwhile, went top after a 1-1 draw at Villarreal CF.

Porto prolific
Real Madrid CF lost the lead in Spain after going down 2-1 at Athletic Club Bilbao, hardly the best warm-up for their Group C game at home on Tuesday against FC Porto. The Spanish side are hoping to make it three second group stage wins out of three against an FC Porto team who won 4-1 at Vitória Setúbal, thanks to two goals from Heldér Postiga.

Sparta go down
AC Sparta Praha, who lead the way in the Czech Republic, did not prepare well for Tuesday's home match against Panathinaikos FC, going down 1-0 to second-placed FC Slovan Liberec on Saturday. The Group C side were beaten by Václav Koloušek's 62nd-minute strike which lifted Liberec within four points of their opponents. Panathinaikos, meanwhile, had a better time of it drawing level with Greek league leaders AEK Athens FC after a 1-0 win against Akratitos courtesy of Michael Konstantinou's 34th-minute strike.

Arsenal in good spirits
While Deportivo were beaten by Barcelona, their Group D opponents on Tuesday, Juventus FC, took top spot at the expense of Roma with a 2-1 win over AC Fiorentina. Arsenal FC will take on Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the other Group D encounter and the English club will be in good spirits after comfortably progressing to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 5-2 win over Gillingham FC. Leverkusen missed the chance to take top spot in the 1. Bundesliga after a 2-2 draw at FC St. Pauli.

Bayern back in form
In Group A, Boavista FC welcome FC Bayern München on Wednesday knowing Bayern are back in form after goals from Bixente Lizarazu and Brazilian Giovane Elber earned a 2-0 win at SC Freiburg. The Portuguese club had a less enjoyable time on Saturday, being held to a goalless draw by Gil Vicente FC. Like Liverpool, Manchester United FC had a free weekend because of the FA Cup. They take on FC Nantes Atlantique in the other Group A fixture on Wednesday with the French club hoping to bounce back after a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Lille OSC.

Brugge go clear
There were some other intriguing results this weekend, particularly on Sunday night. In Belgium, Club Brugge KV moved five points clear after snatching a 1-0 victory against reigning champions RSC Anderlecht on Sunday evening. Across the border in France, UEFA Cup challengers Olympique Lyonnais closed the gap on leaders RC Lens with a 3-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain FC. Also on Sunday evening, Newcastle United FC, 1-0 winners over Manchester City FC, joined Chelsea FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Fulham FC and Arsenal in the last eight of the FA Cup.