Derby d'Italia dominates weekend lineup
Serie A's Derby d'Italia and a Russian regional derby are joined by a Georgian title battle and Robin van Persie's Arsenal FC reunion. UEFA.com previews the weekend action.
Italy: Juventus v FC Internazionale Milano (Saturday 20.45)
The Bianconeri and the Nerazzurri renew their traditional rivalry on Saturday when the Derby d'Italia takes place in Turin. The match comes at a crucial phase of the season, with Internazionale – boosted by six straight wins – now second in Serie A with a four-point gap still to close on leaders Juventus.
Full-back Yuto Nagatomo underlines the huge importance of the game: "We are going to play a big team but our spirits are high. It is not time to talk about the Scudetto, but we want to impress in Turin and try to beat the leaders. We have produced several fine away performances this term." Juventus celebrated their 115th birthday on 1 November and – as forward Fabio Quagliarella explained – beating Inter would be the best possible present: "I don't know if I will start, but what I know is that the game is a huge one. Obviously we hope to win."
Russia: FC Anji Makhachkala v FC Terek Grozny (Sunday 12.45)
The Makhachkala side host the regional derby between second-placed Anji, whose seven-match winning streak ended at FC Rubin Kazan last Sunday, and fourth-placed Terek, who succumbed to defeat by Premier League leaders PFC CSKA Moskva but trail Anji by just four points.
Both teams reached the Russian Cup quarter-finals in midweek, yet while Anji rested key players, Terek's had to endure a 120-minute examination from FC Lokomotiv Moskva. Two goals from the prolific Aílton finally earned Stanislav Cherchesov's charges a 3-1 win. "We need to get our 'wounded' players in shape," said Cherchesov. "We're travelling to our neighbours who are not the team they used to be, same as us. So we prepare for a tough match."
England: Manchester United FC v Arsenal FC (Saturday 13.45)
Fresh from becoming the first English side to topple Chelsea FC this term, the Red Devils are hunting their fourth straight victory in the Premier League at home to Arsenal. Inconsistency has dogged Arsène Wenger's side and Gunners fans have cause for concern ahead of this game, having seen their team lose seven of eight winless matches at Old Trafford. Last autumn's corresponding fixture brought Arsenal an 8-2 hiding, and United have scored ten goals in their last three league outings.
To make matters worse, Arsenal come up against their former striker Robin van Persie, who has hit seven goals in nine league appearances. "Saturday's game is not about Van Persie," said Wenger. "For us, what is important is the result at the end of the game, and the quality of our performance. We do not even talk about him."
Spain: Valencia CF v Club Atlético de Madrid (Saturday, 22.00)
Currently enduring their worst start to a domestic campaign for 13 years, 11th-placed Valencia may wish to have avoided an encounter with Europe's in-form team and the joint Liga leaders this weekend. Despite having won just three of their nine top-flight games this term, however, the Mestalla club's longest-serving player, midfielder David Albelda, feels a reaction is overdue. "Results haven't been as we would have wanted," the 35-year-old said.
"A lot of us here have been critical; we've been committing dreadful individual errors at times. The game against Atlético – who have developed a fantastic side – is one of those that provides extra motivation and our [respective] positions in the standings will count for little."
Georgia: Torpedo Kutaisi v Dinamo Tbilisi (Sunday, 15.00)
Last week Dinamo extended their advantage over their closest challenger to four points but the Kutaisi team can narrow it to one on Sunday. This contest between Georgia's oldest sides is sometimes called 'Georgia's Clásico' and always draws special attention.
No other clubs in the country have more than 50 meetings between them, though this time it will be more than just history on the line. Dinamo beat Torpedo 3-2 in a dramatic match in August, and Torpedo director Georgi Papiashvili expects the same kind of tension in Kutaisi. "We'll start selling tickets two days before the game. Our motivation and desire to get the revenge is much higher after that loss."
Belgium: Club Brugge KV v SV Zulte Waregem (Sunday, 18.00)
With three defeats in a five-game winless run, Georges Leekens's Club Brugge have lost the Belgian First League leadership and dropped to fourth, three points behind leading pair RSC Anderlecht and SV Zulte Waregem. The visit of the latter to the Jan Breydelstadion does not bode well for Leekens and co. Zulte Waregem have won four of their last five matches, impressing since coach Francky Dury returned after departing in 2010.
Between 2001 and 2005, Dury led the club from the third tier to the top flight – and even the UEFA Cup group stage in 2006/07. Dury is not getting carried away, however. "We will wait and see where this ends. We play a third match in eight days in Brugge. They are used to that, but we'll have to see how our team respond. I hope this winning run lasts a while longer," said Dury.