European Look Ahead: Liverpool set for United, top Italian sides meet and more

European Look Ahead: Liverpool set for United, top Italian sides meet and more

European Soccer

European Look Ahead: Liverpool set for United, top Italian sides meet and more

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EvraLiverpool (Getty Images)


By JOHN BOSCHINI

It's FA Cup weekend again in England, and the field is down to 32 teams.

Liverpool are well out of the Premier League title race, and their Champions League hopes are diminishing quickly, but fans will find some solace in the domestic cups, especially after the club reached the Carling Cup final earlier this week. The Reds will host Manchester United at Anfield in a game that should be about two of best teams in England facing each other but might instead turn into cross-section of how much racism still permeates the English game. Patrice Evra is expected to face Liverpool for the first time since the incident between him and Luis Suarez that resulted in the latter being suspended for eight matches and unavailable for this rematch.

Over in Italy, Udienese will test Juventus' title credentials on Saturday as Serie A's third-place team travels face the table leaders. Should Udienese pull off the upset they would move equal with Juventus on points in a tight title race that includes AC Milan and a hard-charging Inter Milan.

Most of the other title contenders around Europe will try to stave off upsets as the Serie A, the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie's tables show no clear frontrunners for the title.

Here is a look ahead to the action going on in Europe this weekend:

ENGLAND

Aside from Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey's head-to-head matchup and the Liverpool-United clash, a lot of the focus in England will be on the Queens Park Rangers-Chelsea tilt that features the first meeting between Anton Ferdinand and John Terry since their incident resulted in Terry being criminally charged with racial abuse.

Arsene Wenger is also in the spotlight and has come under increasing pressure since Arsenal's brief resurgence, with the club now sputtering after three straight losses. The Gunners face another tough test when Aston Villa comes calling in their FA Cup matchup. Arsenal will be desperate for a decent cup run as their silverware drought persists. For those with a soft-spot for Cinderella runs, Paolo Di Canio's Swindon Town look to make the Round of 16 despite being a League Two side.

FRIDAY

Watford vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2:45 p.m.
Everton vs. Fulham, 3 p.m.

SATURDAY

Queens Park Rangers vs. Chelsea, 7 a.m.
Liverpool vs. Manchester United, 7:45 a.m.
Blackpool vs. Sheffield Wednesday, 10 a.m.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Swansea City, 10 a.m.
Derby County vs. Stoke City, 10 a.m.
Hull City vs. Crawley Town, 10 a.m.
Leicester City vs. Swindon Town, 10 a.m.
Millwall vs. Southampton, 10 a.m.
Sheffield United vs. Birmingham, 10 a.m.
Stevenage vs. Notts County, 10 a.m.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Norwich City, 10 a.m.
Brighton vs. Newcastle United, 12:15 p.m.

SUNDAY

Sunderland vs. Middlesbrough, 8:30 a.m.
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa, 11 a.m.

GERMANY

A three-way tie at the top of the table could persist into next week as all three teams should take care of business. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have a combined +45 goal differential at home this season and will look to avoid dropping results to Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg, respectively. Schalke travels to a Cologne team that is only four points off the drop. Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen face off in a tense bout as both teams chase the Champions League.

FRIDAY

Hannover vs. Nurnberg, 2:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

Bayern Munich vs. VfL Wolfsburg, 9:30 a.m.
Borussia Dortmund vs. TSG Hoffenheim, 9:30 a.m.
FC Augsburg vs. Kaiserslautern, 9:30 a.m.
Hertha Berlin vs. Hamburg SV, 9:30 a.m.
Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen, 9:30 a.m.
FC Cologne vs. Schalke 04, 12:30 p.m.

SUNDAY

Mainz vs. SC Freiburg, 9:30 a.m.

SPAIN

Real Madrid and Barcelona go back to abusing the rest of La Liga after their intense Clasico this past week. However, there are some other games worth watching outside of the top two. Osasuna and Athletico Madrid are both trying to sneak into the Champions League spots, with the winner of Monday's game getting a massive boost.

SATURDAY

Espanyol vs. Mallorca, 12 p.m.
Rayo Vallecano vs. Athletic Bilbao, 12 p.m.
Real Madrid vs. Real Zaragoza, 2 p.m.
Villareal vs. Barcelona, 4 p.m.

SUNDAY

Real Betis vs. Granada, 6 a.m.
Levante vs. Getafe, 10 a.m.
Real Sociedad vs. Sporting Gijon, 10 a.m.
Racing Santander vs. Valencia, 12 p.m.
Malaga vs. Sevilla, 3:30 p.m.

MONDAY

Osasuna vs. Atletico Madrid, 3 p.m.

ITALY

Inter Milan should continue their impressive surge up the Serie A table with a trip to relegation-threatened Lecce. The rest of the field will be focused on breaking out of a mid-table that separates eighth-place Palermo and 17th place Siena by only five points.

SATURDAY

Catania vs. Parma, 12 p.m.
Juventus vs. Udinese, 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY

Fiorentina vs. Siena, 6:30 a.m.
AS Roma vs. Bologna, 9 a.m.
Cesena vs. Atalantaa, 9 a.m.
Chievo Verona vs. Lazio, 9 a.m.
Genoa vs. Napolia, 9 a.m.
Lecce vs. Inter Milana, 9 a.m.
Palermo vs. Novara, 9 a.m.
AC Milan vs. Cagliari, 2:45 p.m.

FRANCE

While Paris-St. Germain is being linked with just about every high-profile transfer target, Carlo Ancelotti is trying to create some distance between PSG and the rest of the field. Stade Rennes and Marseille face off as both teams try desperately to stay in the Champions League picture.

SATURDAY

AJ Auxerre vs. AS Nancy Lorraine, 1 p.m.
Brest vs. Paris St Germain, 1 p.m.
Lorient vs. Sochaux, 1 p.m.
Lyon vs. Dijon FCO, 1 p.m.
Nice vs. Montpellier, 1 p.m.
Toulouse vs. Caen, 1 p.m.
Lille vs. St Etienne, 3 p.m.

SUNDAY

Evian Thonon Gaillard vs. Bordeaux, 11 a.m.
Valenciennes vs. AJ Ajaccio, 11 a.m.
Stade Rennes vs. Marseille, 3 p.m.

NETHERLANDS

PSV Eindhoven and league-leading AZ Alkmaar look to put some distance between them and the rest of the field with games against mid-table teams.

FRIDAY

PSV Eindhoven vs. Vitesse Arnhem, 2 p.m.

SATURDAY

Heerenveen vs. FC Utrecht, 12:45 p.m.
NAC Breda vs. De Graafschap, 1:45 p.m.
SC Heracles Almelo vs. Excelsior, 1:45 p.m.
Roda JC Kerkrade vs. AZ Alkmaar, 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY

Feyenoord Rotterdam vs. Ajax, 6:30 a.m.
RKC Waalwijk vs. VVV Venlo, 8:30 a.m.
FC Twente vs. FC Groningen, 8:30 a.m.
NEC Nijmegen vs. ADO Den Haag, 10:30 a.m.

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What do you think of this weekend's games? Do you see an upset in the Bundesliga? Will Juventus hold on to their lead?

Share your thoughts below.

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