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Iltalukemista innokkaille

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Iltalukemista innokkaille

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Brighton v Coventry preview
Brighton have lost their opening two games of the season and have a number of injury and suspension concerns ahead of the visit of Coventry.

Last season's top scorer Leon Knight completes his three-match ban, while defender Daniel Harding is suspended following his harsh red card in the midweek defeat to Plymouth.

Charlie Oatway and keeper Ben Roberts are still troubled by hamstring injuries, while Richard Carpenter, Chris McPhee, Simon Rodger and John Piercy are all absent.

Coventry manager Peter Reid could recall young striker Gary McSheffrey for the trip to the south coast, after he was left out of the side at Cardiff in midweek.

Reid opted to play with only Eddie Johnson up front to accomodate Tim Sherwood in midfield, but with Bjarni Gudjonsson a doubt because of a back injury McSheffrey is in line for a return to the starting line-up.

Eric Deloumeaux and Craig Pead are both ruled out by hamstring injuries for City, who have won one and lost one of their opening two games.

Derby v Ipswich
Derby have lost their opening two games of the season to Leeds and Leicester but manager George Burley may be tempted to name an unchanged side after an encouraging performance against The Foxes in midweek.

Winger Marco Reich and striker Junior came into the side at the expense of Marcus Tudgay and Pablo Mills and they could keep their places after lively displays.

Ipswich are set to be without Jim Magilton for the third successive match as the club captain struggles to overcome a thigh injury.

Stand-in skipper Jason de Vos suffered no reaction to his recent injury problems in the 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest on Wednesday and he looks set to start at Pride Park.

Manager Joe Royle brought in midfielder Tony Dinning at the City Ground in place of young striker Dean Bowditch and is likely to opt for the more cautious approach again.

Gillingham v Preston
Gillingham earned their first points of the season in Tuesday's entertaining victory over Leeds at the Priestfield Stadium, but their 2-1 win came at a cost.

Defender Nyron Nosworthy and midfielder Nicky Southall both picked up groin injuries which have ruled them out of the meeting with Preston.

Mark Saunders also suffered a minor hamstring strain but he is expected to be fit to face North End.

David Perpetuini, Darius Henderson, Alan Pouton and Ian Cox are all injured but will all step up their training next week.

Preston will be without key midfielder Dickson Etuhu after he was sent off in the midweek draw with Wolves for shoving striker Kenny Miller.

However, striker Ricardo Fuller will link up with the squad only hours after returning from the United States, where he got the all clear to resume playing after concerns about the condition of his knee.

Boss Craig Brown is monitoring a number of injury problems ahead of the long trip south, with Claude Davis, Paul McKenna and Eddie Lewis all doubtful.

Marlon Broomes is ready to return after completing a two-match suspension, while Callum Davidson should also come into contention

Millwall v Leicester
Millwall could hand a debut to new signing Adrian Serioux after the right-sided defender or midfielder received international clearance to play.

Player-manager Dennis Wise could bring himself back into the starting line-up after a marked improvement in his side's display when he came on as a second half substitute against Wigan in midweek.

The Lions have yet to score in their opening two games, so loan signing Stefan Moore could come under pressure for his place in the team from Neil Harris and Mark McCammon.

Leicester could again be without defender Matt Heath, who missed out at Derby in midweek because of a hamstring injury, so Martin Keown looks set to start as he did at Pride Park.

Micky Adams' side are definitely without suspended summer signings Dion Dublin and Danny Tiatto for the trip to south London, so Nathan Blake will continue up front with Jason Wilcox at left back.

The Championship favourites have started their campaign in good form with a draw against West Ham and a 2-1 victory over local rivals Derby.

Nottingham Forest v Crewe
Defender Wes Morgan is likely to make his first start of the season after completing a two match suspension, replacing either Jon-Olav Hjelde or Chris Doig at the heart of the Forest defence.

Forest have been without three centre halves for the first two games of the season, with Michael Dawson and John Thompson facing another month out of action after undergoing surgery recently.

Midfielder Kris Commons is close to full fitness and the chance of making his Forest debut, but Eoin Jess looks likely to keep his place in an unchanged midfield after Joe Kinnear's side impressed in the midweek draw with Ipswich.

Forest have drawn their first two games of the season and have lost only twice in the 19 games since Kinnear took charge.

Crewe were without on-loan defender Keith Briggs for the midweek defeat at Sunderland and he may miss out again at the City Ground.

If he does, then Anthony Tonkin and Billy Jones are likely to continue in the full back roles.

Manager Dario Gradi does not face any other injury concerns but may opt to make on or two changes after seeing his team well beaten on Tuesday.

Rotherham v Stoke
Rotherham manager Ronnie Moore could name an unchanged side for the third successive game after the Millers opened with draws against QPR and Burnley.

However, he does have promising defender Shaun Barker available again after a toe injury and he could return to the squad.

Summer signing Paul McLaren will make his first appearance for the reserves next week after overcoming a hamstring injury, but winger Andy Monkhouse is out for around six weeks with a knee injury.

Stoke striker Gifton Noel-Williams will be able to play after his red card in the midweek draw with Sheffield United was overturned on appeal.

With John Eustace Stoke's only injury concern with a long-term back injury, manager Tony Pulis will be able to name an unchanged team at Millmoor.

The Potters were beaten twice by Rotherham last season but are in good form away from home and have kept four consecutive clean sheets on their travels

Sheffield United v Reading
United boss Neil Warnock has hinted that he is set to name an unchanged starting line-up once again for the visit of Reading.

Warnock kept faith with the players who opened with a 1-1 draw at Burnley for the midweek goalless draw at home to Stoke City.

Midfielder Paul Thirlwell is almost fit but will not come into contention, while Simon Francis, Rob Kozluk and Jack Lester are all at least a fortnight away from returning from injury.

Reading will be without winger Glen Little at Bramall Lane after he picked up a hamstring injury during Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at West Ham.

He will be replaced on the left by summer signing Bobby Convey, while James Harper is facing a battle to be fit suffering a hip injury at Upton Park.

Full back Graeme Murty will make his 200th appearance for Reading

Sunderland v QPR
Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy hopes to name an unchanged side for the visit of newly-promoted QPR following a good performance from his team in the 3-1 midweek win over Crewe.

However, striker Kevin Kyle and defender Gary Breen will need to undergo late fitness tests after picking up minor hip and hamstring injuries respectively.

George McCartney missed out against Crewe through injury and his place is likely to go to Stephen Caldwell once again.

QPR manager Ian Holloway could be tempted to make changes after labelling his side's display in the 3-0 defeat at Watford 'embarrassing'.

Tony Thorpe looks almost certain to miss out after sustaining an ankle injury in that game and his place will go to Paul Furlong.

Lee Cook, Gareth Ainsworth and Marcus Bean are all pushing for places in the side, but Rangers are still without long-term injury victim Dan Shittu.

Watford v Burnley
Watford manager Ray Lewington is set to name an unchanged side after Monday's 3-0 demolition of QPR.

Jamie Hand is available to rejoin the squad after completing a two-match suspension, while Lloyd Doyley and Marcus Gayle are long-term injury victims.

Steve Cotterill is also expected to name an unchanged side for the trip to Vicarage Road after Burnley picked up draws in each of their first two games.

Robbie Blake will continue to play as a lone striker, while midfielder Micah Hyde will make a quick return to the club he left in the summer.

Wolves v Leeds
Wolves continue to be beset by injury problems, with Mark Kennedy and Joachim Bjorklund the latest players to be ruled out.

Kennedy has medial ligament damage and will be out for at least five weeks, while Bjorklund suffered a hamstring injury against Preston and will be missing for around a month.

Colin Cameron will replace Kennedy, with Kevin Cooper taking his place on the bench assuming he recovers from a slight ankle injury, while Lee Naylor will come in for Bjorklund with Mark Clyde switching to centre half.

Joleon Lescott is almost ready to return after a knee injury along with Carl Cort, but they will not be pressed into action at the weekend.

Leeds had hoped to sign West Brom captain Sean Gregan in time for him to make his debut at Molineux but have failed to agree a fee with Albion.

That means Kevin Blackwell is likely to name an unchanged side from the midweek defeat to Gillingham.

Michael Owen's transfer to Real Madrid gives new Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez the chance to open the Premiership campaign at Tottenham with Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros up front.

New signing Josemi is also likely to figure.

The only likely addition to the squad that played in Austria against AK Graz in midweek will be the inclusion of midfielder Igor Biscan, who was suspended from the Champions League match after being sent off against Marseille last season.

New Spurs boss Jacques Santini will be forced to make do without a host of big names.

Striker Robbie Keane is a long-term absentee with an ankle ligament problem, while Simon Davies is also ruled out despite being on the road to recovery following a shin operation.

Defenders Dean Richards, Anthony Gardner, Stephen Kelly and Mbulelo Mabizela all miss out with various knocks - while Timothee Atouba, Nourredine Naybet and triallist Edson Da Silva are included in a squad of 16 but awaiting international clearance.


Tottenham (from): Keller, Robinson, Naybet, King, Doherty, Bunjevcevic, Edman, Brown, Redknapp, Mendes, Davis, Atouba, Defoe, Kanoute, Da Silva, Ifil.

Liverpool (from): Dudek, Josemi, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Riise, Finnan, Gerrard, Diao, Biscan, Hamann, Kewell, Cisse, Baros, Sinama-Pongolle, Kirkland, Warnock, Potter, Whitbread, Welsh, Traore
Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren's plans for the Barclays Premiership opener against Newcastle at the Riverside have been hampered by injuries to Gareth Southgate and Franck Queudrue.

Centre-back Southgate sustained a knee injury in training on Friday, while fellow defender Queudrue injured his groin earlier this week, added to which winger Gaizka Mendieta has a back problem.

McClaren, though, is poised to hand debuts to new summer signings Jimmy Hasselbaink, Ray Parlour and Michael Reiziger, who has recovered from a shoulder injury sustained in pre-season.

Another of McClaren's new boys in Mark Viduka, however, is sidelined as the Australia international serves a two-match suspension to start the season.

Newcastle are without conjunctivitis victims Lee Bowyer and Andy O'Brien.

In addition, manager Sir Bobby Robson has been forced to rule out Jonathan Woodgate, Darren Ambrose and Steven Taylor after injury while Shola Ameobi (back), Titus Bramble (hamstring) and Laurent Robert (ribs) are all doubtful.

New signings Patrick Kluivert, Stephen Carr, Nicky Butt and James Milner are included in the squad.


Middlesbrough (from): Schwarzer, Boateng, Doriva, Downing, Ehiogu, Hasselbaink, Job, Juninho, Maccarone, Mendieta, Wilson, Nemeth, Parlour, Queudrue, Parnaby, Reiziger, Riggott, Southgate, Zenden, Nash.

Newcastle (from): Given, Harper, Carr, Bernard, Bramble, Elliott, Hughes, Butt, Dyer, Jenas, Milner, Robert, Brittan, Shearer, Bellamy, Ameobi, Kluivert, Chopra, Gate, Ramage.
Defender Florent Laville is Bolton manager Sam Allardyce's only absentee for Saturday's Premiership opener against Charlton at the Reebok Stadium.

Laville made just five appearances at the start of what proved to be an injury-hit campaign for the Frenchman last season, and he is again on the sidelines with a knee problem for the visit of the Addicks.

Bolton have suffered heavy defeats in the opening match of their previous two campaigns.

Alan Curbishley will be the first manager in Charlton's 100-year history to have four England internationals challenging for first-team places when he picks his team.

With Danny Murphy and Francis Jeffers joining Chris Powell and Paul Konchesky at The Valley this week there is plenty of international-class competition for places in an injury-free squad.

Curbishley has spent around £7million on five new players this summer and is expected to consider all of them for the Bolton game.

Dennis Rommedahl is also likely to make his debut but goalkeeper Stephan Andersen and utility player Talal El Karkouri may struggle to make the cut.


Bolton (from): Poole, Barness, Santos, Nolan, N'Gotty, Speed, Giannakopoulos, Bridges, Pedersen, Okocha, Gardner, Davies, Jaidi, Campo, Hierro, Hunt, Jaaskelainen, Ferdinand, Haim Tal, Vaz Te.

Charlton (from): Kiely, Andersen, Young, Kishishev, Perry, Fish, Fortune, Hreidarsson, Powell, Rommedahl, Holland, Murphy, Euell, Stuart, Hughes, Konchesky, Bartlett, Johansson, Jeffers, Lisbie
Fulham boss Chris Coleman will take a depleted midfield to the City of Manchester Stadium when he renews acquaintance with former boss Kevin Keegan on Saturday.

Playmaker Steed Malbranque misses out with a groin injury which could keep him out for the first six weeks of the season, while fellow midfielder Lee Clark will also play no part after failing to shake off a troublesome calf knock.

New signings Andy Cole, Tomasz Radzinski and Claus Jensen are all in line to make their Premiership debuts for the club, but striker Luis Boa Morte is on Olympic duty with Portugal.

Keegan has no new injury concerns.

The City boss is set to start with both his new full-backs Ben Thatcher and Danny Mills, with Sun Jihai having only returned from Asian Cup duty on Thursday.

Paulo Wanchope is unavailable as he is on World Cup duty with Costa Rica, while new keeper Geert de Vlieger is a long-term injury absentee.


Fulham (from): van der Sar, Volz, Goma, Pearce, Bocanegra, Bonnissel, Knight, Djetou, Jensen, Legwinski, Diop, John, McBride, Cole, Radzinski, Pembridge, McKinlay, Crossley.

Manchester City (from): James, Thatcher, Distin, Reyna, Fowler, Sibierski, Macken, Mills, McManaman, Dunne, Barton, Bosvelt, Bischoff, Sinclair, Wright-Phillips, Anelka, Negouai, Jihai, Ellegaard, Sommeil.
Birmingham City will be without midfielder David Dunn as well as skipper Kenny Cunningham for Saturday's trip to Portsmouth but will hand debuts to Muzzy Izzet, Julian Gray, Mario Melchiot and Jesper Gronkjaer.

Blues also have a doubt over England international striker Emile Heskey who is suffering with a knee ligament injury he picked up against Osasuna last weekend.

Dunn is continuing to have treatment for a torn hamstring while central defender Cunningham will miss the first two games of the season through suspension and will be replaced by Martin Taylor. Darren Anderton will not figure as he is still short of match fitness.

Portsmouth striker Lomana LuaLua (groin) and defender Dejan Stefanovic (calf) face late tests, but midfielder Aliou Cisse (calf) has reported fit to face his old club.

Patrik Berger, who missed much of last season after knee surgery, is hopeful of recovering from a thigh strain to make his return.

Ex-Everton defender David Unsworth should make his debut after a bout of illness but fellow newcomer Andy Griffin may be only on the bench.


Portsmouth (from): Hislop; Primus, Stefanovic, de Zeeuw, Unsworth, Taylor, Stone, Berger, Quashie, Cisse, Berkovic, LuaLua, Yakubu, Hughes, Curtis, Griffin, Howe, Harper, Ashdown.

Birmingham (from): Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Martin Taylor, Upson, Lazaridis, Gronkjaer, Savage, Izzet, Gray, Forssell, Heskey, Morrison, John, Clapham, Clemence, Carter, Vaesen.
Crystal Palace begin their first season in the Premiership in six years at Norwich without striker Neil Shipperley and defender Danny Butterfield.

Shipperley is nursing a knee injury while Butterfield is out for six weeks with a hamstring problem.

New signing Sandor Torghelle is set to step in alongside last season's top scorer Andrew Johnson up front.

Emmerson Boyce could start after signing on a free transfer from Luton in the summer, while Danny Granville and Joonas Kolkka are expected to shake off minor knocks.

Hungary goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly has completed his transfer from Hertha Berlin but Julian Speroni, a summer signing from Dundee, will be preferred between the sticks. Defender Fitz Hall will come into the reckoning after completing his move from Southampton.

Nigel Worthington has a few injury concerns for his side's opener.

Centre-back Malky Mackay (groin), midfielder Phil Mulryne (groin) and goalkeeper Paul Gallacher (groin) are all major doubts, while new signing Youssef Safri is unavailable as he continues to recover from an infection following a hernia operation last season.

Striker Darren Huckerby (groin) looks to have shown no ill-effects from a run-out against Real Mallorca and should be available for selection.

New boys Thomas Helveg and Simon Charlton look set to start at the back, while on-loan Arsenal starlet David Bentley is expected to feature in midfield along with Sweden winger Mattias Jonson.


Norwich (from): Green, Drury, Fleming, Charlton, Helveg, Bentley, Holt, Francis, Jonson, Huckerby, Svensson, McKenzie, Brennan, Edworthy, McVeigh, Mulryne, Mackay, Gallacher, Ward, Henderson, Jarvis, Shackell

Crystal Palace (from): Speroni, Berthelin, Kiraly, Boyce, Powell, Popovic, Hudson, Granville, Leigertwood, Borrowdale, Riihilahti, Kolkka, Hughes, Black, Watson, Routledge, Derry, Freedman, Johnson, Torghelle, Hall
West Brom are without suspended midfielder Jason Koumas for Saturday's trip to Blackburn Rovers.

Albion are also missing striker Rob Hulse (stomach strain) and central defender Larus Sigurdsson who is continuing his recovery from a long-term knee injury.

Manager Gary Megson will hand starts to summer signings Riccardo Scimeca, Darren Purse, Jonathan Greening and Kanu on Albion's return to the Premiership.

Dwight Yorke will start for Blackburn after fighting his way back into favour at Ewood Park.

Boss Graeme Souness left Yorke out of the pre-season German tour but has been impressed enough with his training regime to guarantee him a starting place.

David Thompson is still not fully fit following a knee injury and joins long-term injury victim Steven Reid on the sidelines.

But Barry Ferguson is fighting for a midfield place alongside new signing Dominic Matteo after recovering from the knee problem which ruled him out for most of last season.


Blackburn (from): Friedel, Enckelman, Neill, Short, Amoruso, Johansson, Gray, Emerton, Tugay, Gresko, De Pedro, Matteo, Ferguson, Stead, Yorke, Dickov, Flitcroft, Gallacher.

West Bromwich Albion (from): Hoult, Scimeca, Purse, Gaardsoe, Moore, Albrechtsen, Robinson, Gera, Johnson, Greening, Kanu, Horsfield, Dobie, Clement, Sakiri, O'Connor, Gregan, A Chambers, Kuszczak
Patrick Vieira is unlikely to be seen in action for at least two weeks despite turning down Real Madrid to stay at Arsenal.

The Gunners captain is still struggling with a thigh injury sustained at Euro 2004 but France team-mates Thierry Henry (Achilles) and Robert Pires (calf) are in the Gunners squad for Sunday's Premiership opener at Everton.

However manager Arsene Wenger is concerned they are less than 100% match-fit and the same applies to winger Freddie Ljungberg (ribs).

Sol Campbell is still out with Achilles trouble and young striker Jeremie Aliadiere is sidelined for three months with a knee ligament injury from last Sunday' Community Shield. Dennis Bergkamp looks set to captain the champions as they go for their 41st consecutive unbeaten league match.

With Brazilian Edu still on a break after Copa America duty, Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas, 17, looks likely to figure again at Goodison Park. Newcomer Mathieu Flamini from Marseille has received international clearance and is also in the squad.

Everton striker Wayne Rooney and midfielder Li Tie are unavailable.

Rooney should be training in a fortnight following the broken bone in his foot that ended his Euro 2004 heroics, while Li Tie should be available in a month as he nears the end of his recovery from a broken leg.

Two of Everton's close-season signings, Marcus Bent and Eddy Bosnar, will be available.


Everton (from): Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Weir, Naysmith, Bosnar, Kilbane, Carsley, Gravesen, Osman, Watson, Pistone, Campbell, Bent, Ferguson, Wright, Clarke, Chadwick.

Arsenal (from): Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Cygan, Cole, Pennant, Gilberto, Fabregas, Flamini, Ljungberg, Svard, Hoyte, Bergkamp, Reyes, Henry, Van Persie, Senderos, Almunia.
Jose Mourinho has a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from as he prepares for his first competitive match as Chelsea boss.

The much-changed Blues open their Barclays Premiership campaign against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with only Dutch winger Arjen Robben (foot) doubtful and Portugal midfielder Tiago Mendes (groin) expected to be ruled out, while defender Robert Huth is suspended following his sending off at Old Trafford in May.

Adrian Mutu, Wayne Bridge, Joe Cole and Alexei Smertin have returned to full training after missing last weekend's tribute game for Gianfranco Zola.

United have no further injury worries following Wednesday's 2-1 win over Dinamo Bucharest but Darren Fletcher's suspension means that nine senior players will be missing for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

They are Louis Saha, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Kleberson, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Wes Brown who are all injured, Fletcher and Rio Ferdinand who are suspended, plus Cristiano Ronaldo and Gabriel Heinze who are playing in the Olympics.

Liam Miller is likely to replace Fletcher on the right of midfield but apart from that United should be unchanged on Sunday.


Chelsea (from): Cech, Cudicini; Johnson, Babayaro, Carvalho, Gallas, Bridge, Ferreira, Terry; Makelele, Smertin, Lampard, Cole, Duff, Geremi, Robben, Parker; Mutu, Kezman, Drogba, Gudjohnsen.

Manchester United (from): Howard, G Neville, Keane, Silvestre, Fortune, Miller, Djemba-Djemba, O'Shea, Giggs, Scholes, Smith, P Neville, Forlan, Bellion, Eagles, Richardson, Spector, Bardsley, Carroll, Ricardo
10) Djurgården - Halmstad
Djurgården, som spelade 2-2 mot Juventus i veckan kan komma att vila ett par spelare. Anfallaren Geert den Ouden har lämnat klubben och är således inte tillgänglig.
Halmstad har anfallaren Björn Anklev avstängd.

11) IFK Göteborg - Örebro
Hemmalaget, som har tre raka segrar bakom sig, är ordinarie.
Örebro, som har en seger, en oavgjord och en förlust på lagets tre senaste matcher får klara sig utan Gustaf Andersson, som är avstängd. Per Gawelin är avstängd och det är ett stort frågetecken kring tuffe mittbacken Mikael Danielsons medverkan.

12) Helsingborg - Hammarby
Helsingborg, som gjort 14 mål på de senaste fyra matcherna, väntas inte göra några förändringar i det lag som vann med 4-0 mot Elfsborg.
Hammarby väntas mönstra samma lag som vann med 2-0 mot isländska Akranes på torsdagskvällen. Jämfört med senaste allsvenska matchen är Alexander Östlund tillbaka i backlinjen efter sin avstängning.

13) GIF Sundsvall - Malmö FF
GIF Sundsvall kan långt ifrån ställa sitt bästa lag på benen mot serieledarna. Johan Andersson är avstängd och Fredric Lundqvist skadad. Frågetecken är det för sjuke Anderas Hermansson och skadade duon Patrik Eriksson-Ohlsson och Hasse Bergh. Anfallaren Cain Dotson är dock tillgänglig efter sin knäoperation.
Malmö FF har fyra raka matcher utan förlust men saknar avstängde försvararen Olof Persson och långtidsskadade Jörgen Ohlsson.
Strasbourg v Toulouse: Preview


STRASBOURG, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Strasbourg will be eager to pick up three points against Toulouse after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Bastia on the opening day of the season.

The Alsatians had a mediocre campaign last season and are hoping to do better this year but last weekend's result showed no reason for their fans to hope for any better in 2004-5.

Strasbourg midfielder Yves Deroff admits that a result at the Stade Meinau is essential for Antoine Kombouare's outfit.

Deroff told www.rcstrasbourg.fr: ``It will be our first match at the Meinau and as we lost at Bastia that means we are more or less obliged to win it.

``But there is no point putting unnecessary pressure on our shoulders.

``On the other hand if we really go for it we will light the stadium up just like we did last year.''

Deroff is optimistic he will play against Toulouse after missing the Bastia match but there are also doubts with Cedric Kante who had a tibia problem and Pascal Camadini who is able to run again after an ankle injury but may not be ready for action.

Definitely out is Karim Haggui who is with Tunisia at the Olympics and played for the Carthage Eagles in the 1-1 draw with Australia.

Toulouse, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, started well with a home draw with Lens and have named a 17-man party for the trip to Alsace.

The southerners have made some astute purchases and the likes of Stephane Dalmat and Daniel Moreira offer hope of a better season for Les Violets.

PSG v Caen: Preview


PARIS, August 13 (Olympics) - Paris St Germain got off to a losing start to the season last week and will be eager to get three points under their belts against newly-promoted Caen.

The Parisians were runners-up to champions Lyon and won the Coupe de France last season and are fancied by many to challenge for the Ligue 1 crown this term.

However, last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Rennes meant a poor start to the present campaign for coach Vahid Halilhodzic and his men.

Serbo-Montenegrin player Danijel Ljuboja will miss the first home match of the season at the Parc des Princes as he has an injured calf sustained against Rennes.

New signing Jerome Rothen, who joined the club from Monaco in the summer, is confident the capital club can bounce back against the club where he began his professional career before joining Troyes and then Monaco.

Rothen told www.psg.fr: ``It's something that's very important for me.

``It's four years that I have been dreaming of playing against Caen in a Ligue 1 match. The Stade Malherbe (Caen's ground) really deserves it.

``But I will be showing no sentiment on Friday and will be playing only for victory.''

As for Caen, their central defender Aziz Ben Askar has withdrawn after a scan revealed a muscle tear and he may even be sidelined for next week's match with Monaco.

The Normandy-based outfit drew their opening match last week with southerners Istres in a battle between two clubs who were promoted from Ligue 2.

AC Ajaccio v Metz: Preview


AJACCIO, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Many are expecting Ajaccio and Metz to again battle against the drop once more this season although it is a little premature to call this match a relegation dogfight.

Ajaccio were beaten by Sochaux 1-0 in their seasonal opener last week but Metz got three points in the bank with an opening day victory by the same scoreline against Nantes.

Defender Xavier Collin admits that the Corsicans must improve for their first home match of the campaign against the visitors from Lorraine.

``It wasn't undeserved (the defeat against Sochaux) and we were lacking when it came to free-kicks,'' said Collin to club website www.ac-ajaccio.com.

``Nevertheless we can still consider our performance to be encouraging.

``We lacked a cutting edge in attack and we have to work with our new signings to get the understanding going.''

The Corsicans had to wait until the last day to secure their Ligue 1 spot - ironically by beating Metz who had only just secured their status.

This season if they lose against Metz then it will look like another white-knuckle ride is in store.

Metz coach Jean Fernandez has named a 16-man squad for the trip to the Mediterreanean island and will feel a lot better after last week's result.

A further boost for the Lorraine club is the likely return of club captain Gregory Proment after injury problems.

``I am operational again but not 100%,'' said Proment on www.fcmetz.com. ``Now it is down for the coach to decide whether I play or not.''

Auxerre v Rennes: Preview


AUXERRE, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Even Auxerre's evergreen coach Guy Roux admits this season will be a struggle - and now the Burgundy club hosts a Rennes outfit that is on the crest of a wave.

The visitors from Brittany are buoyant after kicking off their campaign with a 2-1 win at home to Paris St Germain last week and will be hoping to capitalise with a simular result against an Auxerre team that has been ripped apart during the summer.

The club's four French internationals - striker Djibril Cisse (to Liverpool), defenders Philippe Mexes (to Roma) and Jean-Alain Boumsong (to Rangers) and midfielder Olivier Kapo (Juventus) - have all moved on to pastures new.

And Roux, who has turned the club into a major force in his marathon 44-year stint in charge, has already admitted that he will settle for 17th place in Ligue 1 this season - in other words avoiding relegation is the only priority for his depleted club.

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Lille on day one has in fact left Auxerre bottom of the table - they were the only team to lose their opener by two goals.

Rennes made progress last season under coach Laszlo Boloni and the result against PSG seems to indicate another upwards turn in the fortunes of the club that is now the only team from Brittany remaining in the top flight after Guingamp's relegation.

Boloni will be looking for more of the same against the beleaguered outfit from Burgundy.

Bordeaux v Nice: Preview


BORDEAUX, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Both teams got off to losing starts last weekend but Bordeaux will be eager to get three points under the belt on their first match at home against Nice at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

Bordeaux had an agonising start to the season last week when they thought they had got a point at Marseille only for Laurent Batlles to score in the fifth minute of injury time at the Stade Velodrome with what was virtually the last kick of the match.

Leading the line against Nice will be much-travelled striker Lilian Laslandes who moved from Les Aiglons back to Bordeaux during the summer.

Laslandes was a key player in the Bordeaux team that won the 1999 Ligue 1 title and has been to Sunderland and Nice since that career high.

His time with Sunderland was a disaster but former French international Laslandes insists he has only positive recollections of his season with Nice.

He told the www.ogcnice.com website: ``In a corner of my head I always wanted to go back to Bordeaux to wear the colours that meant so much to me.

``When I arrived at Nice I was happy to sign for two years with an option for a third. I was just happy to get out of England.

``But Bordeaux, when Michel Pavon took over as coach, were looking for a third striker. They thought `why not get Lilian back'.''

Nice coach Gernot Rohr has named a 17-man squad for the trip to Bordeaux and his team are trying to get back to winning ways after losing the season's opening match to champions Lyon, also by a single goal.

Jacques ``Pancho'' Abardonado and Franco Dolci are sidelined with injuries for Les Aiglons.

Lens v St Etienne: Preview


LENS, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Lens play their first home match of the season at the Stade Felix-Bollaert against a St Etienne team that is still reacclimatising to top-flight football after winning promotion in May.

The northerners had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Toulouse in their opener last week while St Etienne lost 1-0 at home to Monaco in their first match back in the top flight, thanks to a goal in the first minute.

Lens will have their own selection problems for the match with two players on Olympic duty with Morocco - they are Yazid Kaissi and Bouabib Bouden.

Furthermore goalkeeper Sebastien Chabbert has a hand injury and does not feature in the 16-man party named by coach Joel Muller.

Charles-Hubert Itandje will be in the Lens goal for the match with Les Verts.

There has been good news for Alou Diarra who has received a call-up by new France coach Raymond Domenech for Wednesday's friendly with Bosnia-Herzegovina at Rennes.

Muller backs his player to make the most of his chance, telling club website www.rclens.fr: ``He is one of a group of 15 players including (Philippe) Mexes who can get to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.''

St Etienne coach Elie Baup, who took the reins when Frederic Antonetti was surprisingly dismissed after leading Les Verts to promotion, predicts a tough match at the Bollaert.

``They are one of the teams that was strengthened the most in the summer,'' Baup told club website www.asse.fr. ``(Eric) Carriere, (Daniel) Cousin, Diarra and (Jerome) Leroy are all good signings.

``As their president said they will be aiming for a place in Europe

Lyon v Sochaux: Preview


LYON, August 13 (Ligue 1) - This appetising fixture will see champions Lyon open their home campaign with a visit from a Sochaux team that has improved considerably over the past two seasons but has now been forced to rebuild.

Lyon, hunting their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title, have also considerably changed their team around and one of their principal signings in the summer was Pierre-Alain Frau who was top scorer for Sochaux and this week earned his first call-up by new France coach Raymond Domenech for next Wednesday's friendly at Rennes with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Lyon got off to a winning start last week with a 1-0 win at Nice and Frau admits it will be strange facing his former team-mates.

``I am under pressure but I am very happy,'' Frau told club website www.olweb.fr.

Referring to his call-up he said: ``When I came to Lyon that was one of my objectives. I am surprised it has happened so quickly but then again so much the better for that.

``I will do everything possible to play well with Lyon and continue on this path.''

Sochaux have had two excellent seasons but lost not only Frau but also their French international midfielder Benoit Pedretti to Marseille in the summer.

However, the Montbeliard-based club got off to a winning start last weekend at the expense of Ajaccio.

Sochaux boss Guy Lacombe has named a 16-man squad for the relatively short trip to the Stade Gerland and the main surprise is the call-up for 19-year-old youngster Aime Lavie, for what could be his first appearance for the first team

Monaco v Istres: Preview


MONTE CARLO, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Monaco will be hoping to pick up three more points on Saturday when newly-promoted Istres are the visitors to the Stade Louis II.

The Principality club, who were forced to offload several star players after reaching the Champions League final last season, got off to a winning start last week with a 1-0 win at St Etienne who like Istres were also newly promoted.

Now they will look to consolidate with more of the same against unfancied Istres who secured the third and final promotion place.

The two clubs have never met before at Ligue 1 level even though the Provence club is geographically not that far from the outfit from the Principality.

Much of the week has been overshadowed by discussions about a possible transfer of Shabani Nonda to Lyon but for now the 2002-3 Ligue 1 top scorer remains a Monaco player.

For Istres it is the second consecutive away fixture but that is no problem for a club that will have to play their first four home matches at Nimes before their new stadium is ready to host top-flight football.

They started the campaign with a 1-1 draw at Caen who were the other team promoted last summer but this will be their first real meeting with a heavyweight club.

However, Monaco have lost some of their lustre with the departures of the likes of Ludovic Giuly, Fernando Morientes, Dado Prso and Jerome Rothen.

Istres coach Mehmet Bazdarevic hopes to field an unchanged side on Saturday

Nantes v Bastia: Preview


NANTES, August 13 (Ligue 1) - Nantes will look to get off the mark for the season against a Bastia team that made a fine start to the campaign.

Bastia's 2-1 home win over Strasbourg was just what the doctor ordered for a team that only just stayed in the top flight last season but it was a less auspicious start for Nantes who were surprisingly beaten at Metz.

Nantes coach Loic Amisse has named a 16-man squad for the match at the Stade Beaujoire with Emerse Fae ruled out after injuring a thigh against Metz.

Amisse admits it is imperative for Les Canaris to get a win under their belts against the visitors from Corsica.

Amisse told club website www.fcna.fr: ``There is pressure for every match and we try to be operational and fit so we can win.

``Last year at Nantes we set the objective not to lose at home. We will begin our attempt to meet that challenge again against Bastia.''

Bastia's Tony Vairelles, who was capped by France during his spell with Lens, scored the winner against Strasbourg while playing in an unusual position behind two front men.

``It was a very positive outcome because the team is being rebuilt with new players, new staff and a new coach,'' he told www.sc-bastia.com.

``We must not make the mistake of thinking we have cracked it - the road will be long and hard - and we must now try and keep up to a good rhythm.''

Bjorn Kvarme is still not fit for Bastia while Pierre-Yves Andre and Youssouf Hadji must also be considered doubtful by coach Francois Ciccolini for the trip to Nantes.
Borussia M'gladbach v Borussia Dortmund: Preview


MONCHENGLADBACH, August 13, (Bundesliga) - Borussia Monchengladbach face Borussia Dortmund buoyed by the euphoria of playing at the newly-built 54,000 Borussia-Park.

Gladbach are now aiming to secure their first win of the season following last weekend's opening game draw against Arminia.

A 10-man Gladbach side, captained by new-boy Christian Ziege, restricted Arminia to very few clear-cut chances last week and left Bielefeld with a goalless draw.

But coach Holger Fach admits a sense of anxiety about playing at the new stadium for the first time.

He said: ``I feel a certain nervousness which cannot be compared with normal stadium openings.

``Most of my players are experienced and they know what to expect from this match.''

Stefan Korell (knee), Marcelo Pletsch (suspension) and gifted youngster Thomas Broich (foot) are unavailable for selection in the battle of the Borussias.

Dortmund, meanwhile, who lifted the Champions League in 1997, are aiming to bounce back from last week's 2-1 defeat at home to Wolfsburg.

The result came as a further blow to new coach Bert van Marwijk, who had already seen his side crash out of the Intertoto Cup at the Westfalenstadion.

But van Marwijk is approaching Saturday's clash at Gladbach in a positive frame of mind.

``It will be hectic and a great derby,'' van Marwijk said.

``There's a lot of pressure on Gladbach and they might be intimidated.''

Brazilian defender Dede returns for the van Marwijk's crestfallen side, but Christian Worns, Otto Addo and Christoph Metzelder all miss out through injury

Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin: Preview


MUNICH, August 13 (Bundesliga) - Hertha Berlin coach Falko Gotz returns to Munich this weekend looking to improve on the two defeats he suffered at the hands of Bayern during his reign as coach of relegation 1860 Munich last season.

Gotz is in confident mood despite seeing his side throw away a two-goal advantage to draw 2-2 against Bochum last weekend.

``We have the quality to hurt Bayern,'' he said.

Gotz appears to have created an attacking force in the capital city, but is still anxious about the leaky nature of his defence.

``We need to find the right balance between attack and defence,'' he added.

Bayern target Arne Friedrich may return to the right side of defence as Oliver Schroder is recovering from a bout of flu, while Dick van Burik is expected to play in the centre of the back four.

Gotz is otherwise likely to name an unchanged side with new signing Yildiray Basturk still short of match fitness.

For Bayern, much of the renewed optimism around the club has centred around the return to action of German midfielder Sebastian Deisler, although fans were left holding their collective breath on Wednesday when the 24-year-old failed to turn up to training.

However, his absence turned out to be due to flu and his return to the fold on Thursday should see him take his role in a formidable midfield alongside Michael Ballack, Torsten Frings and Ze Roberto on Saturday.

In fact, coach Felix Magath is unlikely to make any changes from the side that lifted the League Cup and started the season with a 2-0 win at Hamburg last weekend.

The clean bill of health could be put down to Magath's new training schedule, which allows all the club's veteran players to take Thursday mornings off.

``It's so they can use the morning to regenerate themselves,'' said the 51-year-old.

``The players over 30 need more relaxation. The body starts to deteriorate from the age of 29 and 30.

``The players will therefore be in pinnacle condition come Saturday.''

Meanwhile, Owen Hargreaves, linked with a move to England this week, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Tobias Rau are all fit and expected to take their places on the bench.

Hansa Rostock v Werder Bremen: Preview


ROSTOCK, August 13 (Bundesliga) - Hansa Rostock, tipped by many to struggle in the Bundesliga this season, will be looking for their first win of the new campaign against reigning champions Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Hansa coach Juri Schluenz is already a little concerned despite the scoreless draw at Freiburg on the opening day of the season.

``We need to clinch 40 points as soon as possible,'' said Schluenz.

``And we need to collect the points on a regular basis to keep the pressure off our shoulders.''

Hansa may have a good home record against Werder, including a 3-1 victory last season, but not all is well at the club.

Defender Razundara Tjikuzu has been linked with a move to Hamburg.

``Everything is possible at the moment,'' he said, raising speculation that he will join Klaus Toppmoller's team.

Meanwhile, Werder's long-serving coach Thomas Schaaf, recently voted the Bundesliga's coach of the year for last season, faces a different team worry - trying to keep his strikers happy.

Four proven finishers are vying for the two frontrunning roles - new signing Miroslav Klose, Ivan Klasnic, Nelson Valdez and Euro 2004 hero Angelos Charisteas.

Valdez was a late substitute for Klose last week, scoring the 84th minute winner over Schalke.

Sports director Klaus Allofs said: ``We have to see whether they can deal with the situation. It's like playing for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.

Mainz v Hamburg SV: Preview


MAINZ, August 13 (Bundesliga) - Mainz coach Jurgen Klopp has vowed his team will bounce back from defeat in their first-ever Bundesliga match last weekend when they tackle Hamburg on Saturday.

The newly-promoted outfit were given a harsh welcome to the top flight last week, suffering a 4-2 defeat at Stuttgart,

Klopp is determined his team will ``work brutally hard to show our true face against Hamburg''.

Hungarian defender Tamas Bodog, who was on the scoresheet at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium last Saturday, added: ``We've got a chance against every team if our defence stands tall and our midfield plays fast enough.''

A wave of euphoria has hit Mainz ever since they were promoted to the Bundesliga, and a sell-out crowd of 18,500 will rock the Bruchwegstadion against Hamburg.

Klopp is not expected to tinker with his line-up as Christoph Teinert (thigh), Mimoun Azaouagh (glandular fever) and Michael Falkmayer (anterior cruciate ligament) remain sidelined.

Hamburg will be looking to kick-start their season after a disappointing few weeks.

After crashing out of the Intertoto Cup, things got worse with a 2-0 loss at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga opener last weekend.

The northerners travel to Mainz without Collin Benjamin (broken hand) and with Benjamin Lauth lacking match fitness.

Meanwhile, the club have expressed an interest in Rostock defender Razundara Tjikuzu, but their attempts to bring Everton's Denmark midfielder Thomas Gravesen back to Germany have hit a snag.

``Everton turned down our offer,'' sports director Dietmar Beiersdorfer said.

``He is a top player and it's very hard to fund a deal. But we will not give up trying.''

Nurnberg v VfB Stuttgart: Preview


NUREMBERG, August 13 (Bundesliga) - Stuttgart coach Matthias Sammer has warned his players not to underestimate newly-promoted Nuremberg when the sides meet on Saturday looking to maintain 100% starts to the Bundesliga campaign.

Nuremberg impressed last Saturday in winning 3-1 at Kaiserslautern in their first match back in the top flight, and Sammer, whose team brushed aside Mainz 4-2, knows the league leaders are unlikely to have it all their own way this weekend.

``They've had a smashing start,'' he said. ``Their stadium will be sold out and we need to be fighting from the first second.

``You always make the biggest mistakes when you're completely satisfied.''

Brazilian striker Cacau will look to continue his superb start to the season following a hat-trick against Mainz.

However, Sammer will have to do without striker Marco Streller (calf) and defender Fernando Meira, who is representing Portugal at the Olympics.

Wolfgang Wolf's team head into their first home match aiming to build on last week's comfortable win.

The youngest team in the top flight showed Kaiserslautern how it should be done and secured three points through goals from Ivica Banovic, Robert Vittek and Lars Muller.

They are likely to be given a sterner test this weekend, though, and will be without injured duo Lawrence Aidoo and Marek Nikl as they seek their first victory over Stuttgart since 1994.

Striker Vittek, who has recently penned a contract extension which will keep him at the club until 2009, has found his feet in the Bundesliga and will be looking to add to his opening-day goal.

``I'm finally playing in the Bundesliga,'' said the 22-year-old.

``That's what I have always wanted and I'm feeling very comfortable.''

Schalke 04 v Kaiserslautern: Preview


GELSENKIRCHEN, August 13 (Bundesliga) - Schalke will be hoping for much more from their Brazilian striker Ailton when they tackle Kaiserslautern on Saturday.

Ailton, recently voted Germany's footballer of the year, was disappointing in last week's season opener at Werder Bremen where a late goal by substitute Nelson Valdez cost Schalke a share of the spoils.

And the club is also in trouble off the field with eccentric winger Jorg Bohme being fined again for becoming involved in a scuffle at a local disco.

On the injury front, Sven Kmetsch and Marco van Hoogdalem have been ruled out of the Kaiserslautern clash.

Meanwhile, `Lautern coach Kurt Jara will be looking for a significant defensive improvement after a 3-1 defeat against Bundesliga new boys Nurnberg last weekend.

Ferydoon Zandi was the only Red Devil on target, while former German international Carsten Jancker and Christian Nerlinger gave disappointing debuts.

``We need to win more tackles in defence,'' said Jara.

``Once we do that, we should start winning games again.''

Hany Ramzy, Ioannis Amanatidis, Ciriaco Sforza, Marco Engelhardt, Christian Timm and Patrick Wittich are all unavailable for the match.

Youngster Juergen Gjasula picked up an ankle injury in practice and will probably miss the rest of the month.
(BBC, Sky-Sport, Sportin Life, NewsNow, Svenska Spe, Soccernet


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