Back to the grind

Europe’s players return to their day jobs this weekend after the international break and Spain plays host to the weekend’s biggest fixture as Sevilla’s bright start to the season faces the biggest test possible.

Sevilla have been finding the net regularly this season
Sevilla have been finding the net regularly this season

The Uefa Cup holders make the daunting trip to the Nou Camp in what promises to be a flowing, attractive match and can take confidence from the fact that they outplayed Barcelona to claim the European Super Cup less than two months ago.

A television contractual wrangle has meant the larger public have not yet had the opportunity to see Juande Ramos’ side but those that have seen Sevilla have seen a free-scoring side that has won four out of their fist five games.

However it is Barcelona who lead the way having taken their now customary position at the top of La Liga.

But, despite the flying start, Barca’s coach, Frank Rijkaard, says he still has a lot on his mind.

The European Champions are without leading striker Samuel Eto’o until the New Year through injury and Ronaldinho has yet to find the form that has seen him crowned world player of the year for the last two seasons.

Hot pursuit

Valencia currently lie in second and are another side in a rich vein of form playing what some would call a classic game with two wide men in Vicente and Joaquin and two old-fashioned target men in Fernando Morientes and David Villa.

They travel to Celta Vigo on Sunday while Real Madrid, under new coach Fabio Capello, continue their renovation and quest for their first silverware in four years with a short trip to neighbours Getafe.

Didier Drogba has been in fineform for Chelsea this season

Didier Drogba has been in fine
form for Chelsea this season

Atletico Madrid are another side who have started promisingly under a new coach but will be without Maxi Rodriguez for the visit of Recreativo on Saturday and for the next six months after the Argentinian international damaged knee ligaments in his country’s friendly with Spain on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Europe Liverpool’s manager Rafa Benitez is hopeful the Dutch international Dirk Kuyt can play some part in his team’s home fixture with Blaburn rovers after the stiker was the centre of a club versus country row during the week.

Benitez accused the Dutch FA of mishandling an injury Kuyt picked up in the match against Bulgaria on Saturday.

Back in blue

Joe Cole says he is ready for action after a lengthy injury spell as his Chelsea side travel to high-flying new boys Reading on Saturday.

Manchester United lead the Premiership on goal difference and travel to Wigan while Arsenal can hope their many internationals can shake off the jet lag and continue their resurgence at home to lowly Watford.

In Italy Inter Milan will hope to secure three points at home to newly promoted Catania and Palermo are looking to keep pace and maintain their bid for a Champions League spot at home to another new Serie A arrival, Atalanta.

AC Milan are still trying to eradicate their points deduction from the summer’s match rigging scandal and are away at Sampdoria on Saturday.

In Germany Bayern Munich host high-flying Hertha Berlin while heavyweights Hamburg and Schalke slug it out at the AOL Arena.

Marseille are looking the likeliest candidate to stop Lyon from turning Le Champinnat into a procession for the sixth season in a row.

They make the long trip north to Lens on Sunday and insist French international Franck Ribery will not be heading for the exit in January while the champions play host to neighbours St Etienne.

Source : Al Jazeera

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