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Bastia - Metz

Bastia’s fight against the drop continues against 15th-placed Metz on Saturday. The Corsican outfit tumbled another spot to 19th following last weekend’s 1-0 away defeat to Sochaux, despite another admirable performance from François Ciccolini’s men.

Since defeating Auxerre 3-0 in the League last month, Metz had drawn their last four Ligue 1 encounters before travelling to Sochaux in midweek for their re-scheduled Week 27 clash. The first time these two sides met this season it was Metz that ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.

Caen - Rennes

Stade Michel d'Ornano


Caen (17th) cannot afford to slip this Saturday when they host poor travellers Rennes (7th) at the Stade Michel d’Ornano.

Rennes are still searching for their first away win of the season after last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Metz, where Ligue 1 top scorer Alexander Frei equalised with his 13th strike of the campaign.

Caen, whose recent good form came to an end with a 2-0 loss at the hands of an efficient Nantes side, find themselves back in the thick of the relegation dog-fight and will once again turn to the shooting boots of top-scorer Sébastien Mazure (9 goals) for inspiration.

Rennes are missing captain Cyril Jeunechamp through suspension

Istres - Nice

Stade des Costières de Nîmes


Istres host Nice in a must-win game for the Ligue 1’s bottom club if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation come May.

Despite their recent good form under the new Gravelaine-Gasset coaching duo, Istres suffered their 13th defeat of the season in a plucky 2-1 reverse to leaders Lyon last start and now find themselves seven points from safety with just nine games remaining.

Veteran right-back Sébastien Pérez, who injured his knee in a challenge with Lyon’s Florent Malouda, looks set to be sidelined for at least two weeks.

Côte d’Azur side Nice, who are 14th, have been struggling since Christmas and their recent scoring woes continued with last weekend’s goalless home draw with Strasbourg.

Lens - Bordeaux

Stade Felix-Bollaert


Lens welcome a Bordeaux side fresh from a timely 2-0 win against Saint-Etienne last weekend.

While Les Sang et Or left the Stade Vélodrome feeling hard done by last weekend following their 2-1 defeat by Marseille, the recent revival under Coach Francis Gillot sees them just a solitary point behind Saturday’s rivals Bordeaux, and a mere five points from fifth-placed Auxerre.

And victory for the northerners, for whom skipper Jérôme Leroy continues to excel, would see them leapfrog above their rivals in the standings.

Meanwhile, Les Girondins finally ended their recent run of poor form and relieved some of the pressure on Coach Michel Pavon with last weekend’s win over Les Verts.

Monaco - Marseille

Stade Louis II


"As long as there's a mathematical chance of catching Lyon, we'll be keeping one eye on them," said Marseille striker Steve Marlet this week. Eight points back with nine games to go, that might sound optimistic, but Lille, Monaco and Auxerre have all failed to punish Marseille's slip-ups recently and it's perhaps understandable if they are looking as much up at the leaders as they are down at the teams chasing second place.

That will surely change, though, when Philippe Troussier's side travel to the Stade Louis II to face one of their direct competitors for a Champions' League spot. Marseille picked up a good win at home to Lens last Saturday, but it took two goals from Steve Marlet to do it and the former Fulham striker is suspended this weekend.

Troussier's options up front have also been hit by the news that Habib Bamogo will miss the next two to three weeks with a thigh complaint. In addition, the ex-Japan boss has had to deal with a mini-rebellion this week after senior players Eduardo Costa, Philippe Christanval and Demetrius Ferreira refused to play with the reserves.

Not the best time to face Monaco perhaps, but Marseille will take comfort from their recent record in the principality – three wins from the last six matches, with only one success for the hosts. Didier Deschamps's men also face a tough midweek trip to Strasbourg, and have not recorded a victory in five Ligue 1 outings.

And there is a question mark over how the group will react to their Champions' League exit. Sunday's 2-2 draw with Auxerre may well have been entertaining, yet Monaco twice squandered the lead and looked the most likely of the two to concede in the dying minutes. Despite that, Deschamps insists that, "right now the team is in good spirits," and he knows all too well that club President Michel Pastor will accept nothing less than another crack at the Champions' League jackpot next term.

Nantes - Ajaccio

La Beaujoire


Nantes’ continued resurgence under Coach Serge Le Dizet will be sorely tested by fellow strugglers Ajaccio this Saturday at La Beaujoire.

Both sides are coming off vital wins last weekend after Les Canaris fought off a tenacious Caen, 2-0 – with another goal from Romanian teenage sensation Claudiu Keseru – while the Corsican side’s comfortable 1-0 over Paris Saint-Germain saw them jump back ahead of island rivals Bastia to 18th.

Ajaccio defender Nenad Dzodic is suspended for the trip to Nantes while midfielder Yacine Bezzaz did not train before the midweek clash with Saint-Etienne after injuring his groin.

PSG - Auxerre

Parc des Princes


Paris Saint-Germain host Auxerre on Sunday in a re-run of the Coupe de France fourth round match that Auxerre famously won 3-2 after trailing 2-0.

PSG’s players return to the prickly atmosphere of their Parc des Princes after being roundly criticised in the media – and from within the club – in the wake of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Ajaccio.

That result saw them drop back into the lower half of the table, just eight points from the relegation zone in 12th place.

Auxerre’s seventh draw of the season against Monaco last weekend saw Guy Roux’s men fall a massive 16 points from leaders Lyon, despite holding onto the fifth place in the standings, just a single point from Toulouse.

Coach Guy Roux should welcome back Zimbabwe international striker Benjani (hamstring) and Finnish ace Teemu Tainio (groin) to his squad after both missed the visit of Monaco on Wednesday.

St Etienne - Lille

Stade Geoffroy-Guichard


Saint-Etienne host Lille at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard having slipped to 11th in the standings following their disappointing 2-0 defeat at Bordeaux last start.

The Sunday kick-off gives Lille an extra day’s rest from Thursday’s UEFA Cup match against Auxerre.

Claude Puel’s men will need to start converting their chances, having seen any title ambitions fall by the wayside in a series of six draws and one defeat since inflicting Lyon’s first league defeat in January.

Nigerian Peter Odemwingie – who scored against Toulouse on Sunday – looks set to get the nod ahead of Matt Moussilou in attack.

Saint-Etienne Coach Elie Baup is hoping that Zoumana Camara (back) and Julien Sablé (flu) will both be fully fit by Sunday, while Ivorian defensive midfielder Didier Zokora is suspended.

Strasbourg - Lyon

Stade de la Meinau


League leaders Lyon travel to Strasbourg (16th) on Saturday looking to extend their lead over second-placed Marseille to 11 points.

Coach Paul Le Guen has a full squad to choose from after Brazilian defender and club captain Claudio Caçapa resumed normal training after injuring his knee again against Monaco on February 18.

Ghanaian Michael Essien celebrated his return to midfield with two goals against Werder Bremen last week and his impressive work ethic in the middle of the park should allow Juninho Pernambucano the liberty to assume a more traditional playmaker’s role than recent weeks have permitted.

Juninho’s first-half strike against Istres was his sixth successful free kick in Ligue 1 this season while Sidney Govou’s superb winner suggests Lyon are back to their best after losing to Caen two weeks ago.

Strasbourg Coach Jacky Duguépéroux will be hoping his side’s midweek clash against Monaco doesn’t leave any traces, as the Alsace club look to bounce back from a hard-fought goalless draw with Nice last weekend.

Just three points from the relegation zone, Strasbourg welcome back top-scorer Mickaël Pagis (12 goals) after missing games against Ajaccio and Nice with an ankle injury.

When the two sides met earlier in the campaign, it was Lyon who ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a second-half strike from Pierre-Alain Frau.

Toulouse - Sochaux

Municpal Stadium


Sochaux finally got their League campaign back on track with their first win in six matches at home to Bastia last weekend.

It cannot be said, however, that the 1-0 success at home to the Ligue 1’s 19th-placed club has brought the confidence flooding back.

Certainly the manner of the win will have left Coach Guy Lacombe knowing that plenty of work remains to be done. Araujo Ilan scored the all-important goal after just two minutes – and it can be no coincidence that Sochaux returned to winning ways following the return to fitness of their Brazilian top-scorer, who now has nine League goals.

But for the remaining 88 minutes, it was Bastia who looked like the side hoping to qualify for Europe, while Sochaux took on the appearance of relegation strugglers.

Sochaux ‘keeper Teddey Richert voiced his concern this week that the club had reverted to long-ball tactics in recent weeks, and is urging his teammates to start playing the kind of short-passing, attractive game that the club has become renowned for in recent times.

Certainly it is not Sochaux’s skill at playing long passes hat has led to Lacombe reportedly becoming PSG's premier target this summer.

Their principal concern on Saturday will be stopping Toulouse striker Daniel Moreira from scoring. The France international netted his ninth of the campaign in the 1-1 draw at Lille last weekend, and admitted afterwards: “Everything I try is coming off at the moment.”

Les Violets are unbeaten since the 4-0 drubbing at Lyon at the start of February and Coach Erick Mombaerts knows his side are now breathing down the necks of Monaco and Auxerre in the European places.

Birmingham v Aston Villa

Birmingham right-back Mario Melchiot returns after an ankle injury and will replace Olivier Tebily, who is out for with a calf injury.

Darren Carter is also fit, as is on-loan Walter Pandiani, who has recovered from an ankle problem.

Aston Villa are without Juan Pablo Angel (ankle), on-loan Carlton Cole (knee), Mark Delaney (knee) and Eric Djemba-Djemba (hamstring).

Cole has returned to Chelsea and looks unlikely to play again this season.

Birmingham (from): Maik Taylor, Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Martin Taylor, Clapham, Carter, Anderton, Clemence, Diao, Lazaridis, Gray, Morrison, Yorke, Blake, Nafti, Pandiani, Vaesen.

Aston Villa (from): Sorensen, De La Cruz, Mellberg, Laursen, Ridgewell, Samuel, Barry, Solano, Davis, Hendrie, Berson, Whittingham, Hitzlsperger, Vassell, L Moore, Drobny, Postma

Blackburn v Arsenal

Blackburn striker Paul Dickov will return after being rested in midweek.

But a groin injury looks set to rule out Robbie Savage and David Thompson remains doubtful with a knee injury.

Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp (calf) and Robert Pires (flu) may join Thierry Henry (calf), Sol Campbell (ankle) and Edu (knee) on the sidelines.

But Gilberto, Who has been out with a fractured vertebrae since 18 September, could make his return after playing 65 minutes for the reserves on Monday.

Blackburn (from): Friedel, Neill, Todd, Nelsen, Johansson, Thompson, Reid, Mokoena, Flitcroft, Pedersen, Dickov, Enckelman, Stead, Gallagher, Tugay, Short, Savage, Emerton, Matteo, Johnson.

Arsenal (from): Lehmann, Almunia, Cole, Lauren, Eboue, Ljungberg, Reyes, Gilberto, Van Persie, Fabregas, Flamini, Cygan, Clichy, Toure, Vieira, Senderos, Owusu-Abeyie

Bolton v Norwich

Reebok Stadium
Saturday, 19 March
Kick-off: 1715 GMT


Bolton are without El-Hadji Diouf, who starts a three-match ban.

Henrik Pedersen and Ricardo Vaz Te are pushing to be recalled but Jay-Jay Okocha is doubtful because of a hamstring injury.

Norwich are set to name an unchanged side, despite the return to fitness of Thomas Helveg after two months out.

Ryan Jarvis, David Bentley, Mathias Svensson and Jim Brennan are all in training again after long lay-offs but not fit enough to be considered.

Bolton (from): Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Ben Haim, N'Gotty, Gardner, Hierro, Giannakopoulos, Speed, Nolan, Okocha, Pedersen, Davies, Vaz Te, Campo, Poole, Jaidi, Candela, Fadiga.

Norwich (from): Green, Edworthy, Fleming, Shackell, Drury, Stuart, Holt, Francis, Huckerby, Ashton, McKenzie, Jonson, Helveg, Charlton, Safri, Henderson, Doherty, McVeigh, Ward

Charlton v West Brom

Charlton's Radostin Kishishev (hamstring), Jerome Thomas (calf), Dennis Rommedahl (wrist) and Shaun Bartlett (dead leg) face fitness tests.

But Francis Jeffers, Jason Euell, Jonatan Johansson, Mark Fish, Jonathan Fortune, Kevin Lisbie and Bryan Hughes are all pressing for inclusion.

West Brom have a virtually fully-fit squad, including on-loan Manchester United midfielder Kieran Richardson.

But Andy Johnson is out for the rest of the season after a knee operation.

Charlton (from): Kiely, Young, Hreidarsson, Perry, El Karkouri, Holland, Konchesky, Murphy, Rommedahl, Thomas, Bartlett, Andersen, Fish, Euell, Johansson, Jeffers, Hughes, Fortune, Lisbie.

West Brom (from): Hoult, Albrechtsen, Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson, Gera, Wallwork, Richardson, Campbell, Horsfield, Kanu, Greening, Earnshaw, Kuszczak, Scimeca, Moore, Purse

Chelsea v Crystal Palace

Chelsea will make a late decision on whether to include Arjen Robben.

But Scott Parker is fit again after a broken foot and Ricardo Carvalho should replace Robert Huth, while Didier Drogba is a doubt with a groin problem.

Crystal Palace hope to welcome back Darren Powell and Aki Riihilahti from injury but Vassilis Lakis is suspended.

Nicola Ventola (fractured ankle), Tommy Black (broken leg) and Danny Butterfield (hernia) are not yet fit to return to action.

Chelsea (from): Cech, Cudicini, Johnson, Carvalho, Ferreira, Terry, Gallas, Huth, Parker, Makelele, Lampard, Tiago, Smertin, Jarosik, Duff, Robben, Gudjohnsen, Drogba, Cole.

Crystal Palace (from): Kiraly, Boyce, Hall, Sorondo, Granville, Routledge, Borrowdale, Leigertwood, Hughes, Soares, Johnson, Speroni, Freedman, Torghelle, Kolkka, Andrews, Powell, Riihilahti, Popovic.

Man Utd v Fulham

Manchester united's Ryan Giggs is still suffering the effects of a broken nose and will miss out, as will Darren Fletcher and Louis Saha (both knee).

But Brazilian Kleberson is back in the squad along with Gary Neville.

Fulham midfielder Mark Pembridge (calf) and centre-half Ian Pearce (back) are still not fit, while full-back Moritz Volz might replace Liam Rosenior.

Collins John may retain his place with Tomasz Radzinski ready to cover Andy Cole, who could face his former club.

Man Utd (from): Carroll, Howard, G Neville, P Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Heinze, O'Shea, Spector, Kleberson, Fortune, Ronaldo, Keane, Scholes, Miller, van Nistelrooy, Smith, Rooney, Bellion, Rossi.

Fulham from: Van der Sar, Volz, Goma, Knight, Bocanegra, Clark, Malbranque, Rosenior, Diop, Boa Morte, Jensen, John, Cole, Radzinski, McBride, Rehman, Crossley.

Tottenham v Man City

Tottenham will recall Simon Davies, who was rested in midweek because coach Martin Jol did not want to exhaust the Wales international.

Sean Davis is fit again after knee surgery, while a late decision will made on Mido's fitness, but Pedro Mendes (toe) is definitely out.

Man City's Steve McManaman (calf) and Ben Thatcher (hamstring) are out.

Jon Macken and Nedum Onouha are back, but Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sun Jihai and Trevor Sinclair are still unfit.

Tottenham (from): Robinson, Cerny, Kelly, Pamarot, Gardner, King, Naybet, Edman, Atouba, Davies, Davis, Ziegler, Brown, Carrick, Defoe, Keane, Kanoute, Mido.

Man City (from): James, Weaver, Mills, Onouha, Dunne, Distin, Sommeil, Jordan, Croft, Flood, Barton, Sibierski, Musampa, Fowler, Macken, B Wright-Phillips.

Liverpool v Everton

Liverpool will welcome back Sami Hyypia, who has recovered from a stomach bug, and John Arne Riise should also return to the starting line-up.

Djimi Traore is still out with a knee problem, while Harry Kewell is not expected back for three weeks.

Everton striker James Beattie is available after suspension but Mikel Arteta (ankle) and James McFadden (hamstring) are both doubtful.

Steve Watson could make the bench after recovering from a stomach problem.

Liverpool (from): Dudek, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Pellegrino, Warnock, Luis Garcia, Hamann, Gerrard, Riise, Smicer, Le Tallec, Nunez, Morientes, Baros, Carson, Biscan, Welsh.

Everton (from): Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Weir, Pistone, Naysmith, Carsley, Cahill, Osman, Kilbane, Bent, Beattie, Ferguson, Wright, Watson, Arteta, McFadden, Plessis.
Cardiff v Crewe preview

Crewe AlexandraCardiff will welcome back striker Alan Lee when they take on Crewe at Ninian Park.
Lee has returned from suspension and should partner Cameron Jerome up front for the Welsh side.
Peter Thorne is returning to fitness and could feature, but goalkeeper Tony Warner remains out recuperating form a broken thumb.
Gary Croft (knee), Andy Campbell (calf) and Paul Parry (hamstring) are all ruled out.
David Vaughan could be missing for Crewe after picking up a dead-leg in the game against West Ham in midweek.
Clayton Ince should be available after recovering from a broken finger, but Adie Moses (neck) is a doubt.

Sheff Utd v Burnley
Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock may hand a first start to on-loan striker David Johnson, but Danny Cadamarteri is still out with a sprained ankle.
Danny Cullip is hoping to return to the side after recovering from a knock.

Burnley will be without defender John McGreal after his red card in the midweek defeat against Wolves.

Striker Ade Akinbiyi could make his full debut after serving a three-match suspension but midfielder Tony Grant (groin) is a doubt.

Sunderland v Coventry
Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy expects midfielder Dean Whitehead to recover from the hamstring strain he suffered in the midweek win over Plymouth.
But striker Michael Bridges is a doubt after aggravating an old thigh injury.

Coventry may recall Claus Jorgensen for Andy Morrell after the midfielder's goalscoring appearance from the bench in the draw with Millwall.

Michael Doyle (ankle) and Ady Williams (calf) are still doubtful so Richard Shaw and Isaac Osbourne are on standby

Gillingham v Ipswich
Gillingham goalkeeper Steve Banks could miss the visit of Ipswich after suffering a dead leg against Stoke.
Midfielder Alan Pouton (back) may return and Chris Hope (bruised ribs) should continue, but defender Barry Ashby (ankle) is still missing.

Ipswich midfielder Jim Magilton is boss Joe Royle's only doubt and a slight tear in his calf muscle may keep the 35-year-old on the sidelines.

Should Magilton fail to recover on-loan Jimmy Juan will stay on the bench.

West Ham v Leicester
Matthew Etherington will be missing for West Ham with a twisted ankle he picked up against Crewe and Luke Chadwick is the winger's natural replacement.
Manager Alan Pardew has doubts over Anton Ferdinand and Teddy Sheringham.

Mark de Vries and on-loan Aston Villa youngster Stefan Moore are fighting for a starting spot in the Leicester attack alongside David Connolly.

Danny Tiatto and Keith Gillespie are set for a return after being rested in the first half against Watford.

Millwall v Plymouth
Millwall hope to welcome back Danny Dichio after the striker missed the midweek draw with Coventry with a knock sustained against Wigan.
Dichio is likely to partner Barry Hayles, with Mark Quigley most likely to step down.

Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick is back in training after recovering from an eye injury suffered against Sunderland.

But on-loan Porto playmaker Akos Buzsaky is touch and go after missing two matches with a groin injury.

Nottm Forest v Wigan
Nottingham Forest's injury crisis has deepened with John Curtis (thigh) and James Perch both doubtful after suffering knocks against Leeds.
But Matthieu Louis-Jean may continue, Paul Evans returns after a ban and Kris Commons has shaken off flu.

On-loan striker Brett Ormerod should take his place on the Wigan bench after joining from Southampton and Alan Mahon has recovered from a knee injury.

Emerson Thome is a long-term absentee with hamstring and calf problems.

Watford v Preston
Preston may be without influential midfielder Paul McKenna who is struggling with an ankle problem.
Dickson Etuhu serves the second match of a four-game suspension, while goalkeeper Andy Lonergan and midfielder Eric Skora are long-term absentees.

Watford boss Ray Lewington is expected to name an unchanged team following the midweek draw with Leicester.

Defender Sean Dyche is still out with a groin injury, and midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson is suspended.

Rotherham v QPR
Rotherham duo Chris Swailes (hip) and Martin Butler (illness) both face a race against time to shake off injuries and will be given late fitness tests.
Phil Gilchrist is doubtful after he dislocated his shoulder in midweek.

QPR manager Ian Holloway is set to make changes after admitting some of his players were showing signs of tiredness after their 0-0 draw away at Derby.

Gareth Ainsworth could replace Martin Rowlands on the right while Richard Edghill could come into the defence.

Wolves v Stoke
Wolves boss Glenn Hoddle is expected to name an unchanged team from the midweek win over Burnley.
On-loan midfielder Rohan Ricketts is pressing for a start after coming off the bench against the Clarets.

Stoke have concerns over the fitness of defender Gerry Taggart who had to have five stitches in a head wound suffered in the 2-1 defeat at Gillingham.

Lewis Neal has been passed fit (flu), but defender John Halls (back) and midfielder John Eustace (knee) are out

Barnsley v MK Dons
Barnsley are without suspended striker Michael Chopra and either Daniel Nardiello or Michael Boulding will replace him up front.
Skipper Tony Vaughan faces a long lay-off with his groin problem so Bobby Hassell will continue his partership with Paul Reid in central defence.

MK Dons pair Dean Lewington and Ben Chorley are banned after picking up their 10th yellow card of the season.

Striker Izale McLeod also misses out as he completes his two-game suspension.

Blackpool v Doncaster
Blackpool boss Colin Hendry will name new midfield signing Ciaran Donnelly in his squad to face Rovers.
Hendry is also boosted by the return of fit-again defender Danny Coid, who missed last week's defeat at Sheffield Wednesday with ankle injury.

Doncaster boss Dave Penney has hinted he may make changes to his line-up.

Winger Michael McIndoe is a doubt after suffering from a chest infection, while Paul Green could return after missing last week's 0-0 draw with Brentford

Bournemouth v Hull
Bournemouth welcome back midfielder Brian Stock, who missed last week's win over Walsall with flu.
The Cherries have no new injury worries but are still without long-term absentees Warren Cummings (broken leg) and Karl Broadhurst (hernia).

Hull manager Peter Taylor will select from the same squad that beat Torquay 2-0 last week.

Marc Joseph (hip/back) and Stuart Green (ankle) are back in training but are not expected to be risked on Saturday.

Bradford v Hartlepool
Hartlepool welcome Chris Westwood, Hugh Robertson and Mark Tinkler back into their squad after injury.
Jon Ross hopes to resume training next week after his ankle problem and Darrell Clarke is making good progress in his recovery from a knee injury.

Bradford boss Colin Todd is unlikely to change his side to face Pools.

Darren Holloway (calf) is still not fit and midfield duo Paul Tierney (hamstring) and Tom Kearney (double hernia) both remain on the sidelines.

Brentford v Chesterfield
Brentford manager Martin Allen welcomes midfielder Chris Hargreaves back into his squad after a three week absence with a calf injury.
The Bees have no fresh injury or supension worries and Allen has a full-strength squad at his disposal.

Chesterfield midfielder Jordan Fowler has recovered from a back problem but could still miss out after picking up a knee injury in training.

Mark Hudson (groin) is another doubt, while Caleb Folan is still suspended.

Torquay v Bristol City
Torquay captain Craig Taylor is set to return from a groin injury.
Darren Garner is set to make his debut after joining on loan from Rotherham, but Brian McGlinchey (hamstring) and Craig Woodman (virus) are both out.

Bristol City will include loan signing Joe Keith in their squad, and he could come straight in at left-back to replace the injured Mickey Bell (calf).

Keith will have to dislodge teenage stopper Scott Golbourne who has been filling in for Bell recently

Colchester v Sheff Wed
New loan signing Marc Goodfellow goes straight into the Colchester squad after joining from Bristol City.
The U's are still without Ben Bowditch, Richard Garcia, Bobby Bowry (all hip), Kem Izzet, Jamie Cade (both ankle) and Karl Duguid (knee).

Sheffield Wednesday defender Graeme Lee has not shaken off a groin injury.

Alex Bruce could make his first start after arriving on loan from Birmingham, while David Lucas's injury means keeper Chris Adamson will definitely play.

Huddersfield v Stockport
Huddersfield are without suspended defenders Tom Clarke and Efe Sodje.
Midfielder Jon Worthington is also banned, while Danny Schofield (back) and Tony Carss (groin) are doubtful.

Stockport manager Chris Turner will pick his side from the same 16-man squad that suffered a late defeat to Colchester last week.

Defender John Hardiker is back from suspension but has a knee injury, while Danny Griffin, Mark Robertson and Lee Cartwright are all sidelined.

Oldham v Luton
Oldham boss Ronnie Moore will pick his side from an unchanged squad for the third game running.
Moore has no new injury or suspension worries but defender Guy Branston remains sidelined as he sits out the third game of a four-match suspension.

Luton have doubts over midfielder Steve O'Leary (shoulder) and defender Alan Neilson (calf).

Chris Coyne (hamstring) has only just returned to training and Steve Robinson (groin) is also lacking fitness

Port Vale v Walsall
Port Vale striker Nathan Lowndes is expected to be fit after a hamstring injury, and Robin Hulbert is also back in contention after a thigh problem.
But Levi Reid is suspended and Dave Hibbert suffered a serious head injury against MK Dons last week and is out for at least another fortnight.

Walsall player-boss Paul Merson is still recovering from a calf injury but is considering picking himself.

Goalkeeper Joe Murphy misses the second game of a three-match ban.

Swindon v Wrexham
Swindon striker Christian Roberts played for the reserves in midweek to improve his fitness after a hernia injuy and could earn a starting place.
Midfielder Matt Hewlett played an hour for the second-string after his back problem and is also in contention.

Wrexham captain Darren Ferguson begins a two-game suspension.

Defender Dennis Lawrence is out with a foot injury, but goalkeeper Andy Dibble is fully fit again and is set to take his place on the substitutes bench.
Chievo - Brescia

This really is a relegation six-pointer as anything less than a win will see Chievo slide into the bottom three or Brescia remain mired in the drop zone.

The Flying Donkeys were rightly furious after a perfectly good goal was disallowed against Juventus, as Sergio Pellissier’s shot had ricocheted off the bar and crossed the line before reaching the grateful arms of Gianluigi Buffon. Nonetheless, the game ended with their fifth consecutive defeat and left the team just two points above Brescia and the relegation zone. Simone Tiribocchi and Marco Malago’ continue to struggle with fitness problems, while Alessandro Potenza is suspended. Federico Cossato should be able to start alongside Pellissier.

Brescia also suffered a controversial defeat last Sunday, as a debatable penalty changed the face of their game with Livorno. Gigi Di Biagio was sent off during that tie for taking his protests too far, while Marco Delvecchio and Markus Schopp continue to deal with injuries. Andrea Caracciolo scored two goals in that match and starts alongside Daniele Mannini.

Chievo (probable): Marchegiani; Moro, Mandelli, D’Anna, Lanna; Luciano, Sammarco, Baronio, Semioli; Cossato, Pellissier

Brescia (probable): Castellazzi; Martinez, Mareco, Zoboli; Stankevicius, Sculli, Milanetto, Zambrella, Wome; Caracciolo, Mannini

Inter - Fiorentina

Inter have matched the all-time record for the number of draws in a 20-team Serie A season and must silence their critics by beating Fiorentina if they are to fight for a Champions’ League spot.

Once again, Roberto Mancini’s men failed to live up to expectations by coming away from Lazio with a 1-1 scoreline. That result – and Sampdoria’s defeat at Milan – at least enabled them to catch the Blucerchiati in joint third place. Alvaro Recoba remains sidelined along with the suspended Marco Materazzi, while Christian Vieri and Obafemi Martins should recover in time to feature. Mancio also has to deal with the 3-1 midweek Champions’ League win over Porto, so he could rotate the squad.

Fiorentina earned their first away point under Dino Zoff’s tenure last week, ending a run of three consecutive defeats on their travels, and also showed character by fighting back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Lecce. Luca Ariatti is suspended, while Valeri Bojinov and Daniele Delli Carri are still out injured. Giampaolo Pazzini was forced to miss out on last week’s game at the last minute due to a flu virus, but he is back to partner Fabrizio Miccoli upfront.

Inter (probable): Toldo; J Zanetti, Cordoba, Mihajlovic, Favalli; Veron, C Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic; Cruz, Adriano

Fiorentina (probable): Lupatelli; Maggio, Ujfalusi, Dainelli, Chiellini; Di Livio, Donadel, Obodo; Jorgensen; Miccoli, Pazzini

Juventus - Reggina

Juventus have returned to Scudetto winning form in recent weeks and will be keen for it to continue at the Delle Alpi against mid-table Reggina. The Bianconeri also have a score to settle after their 2-1 defeat to the Amaranto earlier in the season. On that occasion Juve had goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Olivier Kapo ruled out and were denied what appeared to be a penalty when Jacopo Balestri handled in the area.

Fabio Capello is likely to start with the same eleven who began against Chievo last week. However, he will be unable to call upon match winner Ruben Olivera from the bench though as he is suspended after his late red card at the Marc’Antonio Bentegodi. Kapo is also unavailable due to a muscular injury and long-term casualty Paolo Montero is still out. But Pavel Nedved should take his place on the bench after recovering from concussion.

Reggina, who have lost their last two, will be without Emiliano Bonnazzoli and Jacopo Balestri who are both suspended but Brazilian midfielder Mozart should return to the side. The southern side haven’t had much luck in their Serie A visits to Turin, losing 1-0, 5-0 and 1-0 in their last three visits, although a 2-1 Coppa Italia win in 2002 will give Walter Mazzarri’s troops some hope of causing an upset.

Juventus (probable): Buffon; Zebina, Thuram, Cannavaro, Zambrotta; Camoranesi, Emerson, Blasi; Zalayeta, Trezeguet, Del Piero

Reggina (probable): Pavarini; Cannarsa, De Rosa, Franceschini; Mesto, Tedesco, Paredes, Mozart; Nakamura, Colucci; Borriello

Livorno - Cagliari

Livorno and Cagliari will be keen to put on a more entertaining encounter than they managed in November when the two sides drew 0-0 at the Stadio Sant’Elia. Cagliari felt aggrieved after the meeting in Week 10, believing that Mauro Esposito’s late goal shouldn’t have been chalked off for offside and that an earlier penalty decision should have gone their way.

Both sides sit in mid-table, currently off the pace for European places and beyond the scrap for relegation. The Rossoblu come into the game off of a fine 3-0 win over Roma, however they have taken just one point from their last seven away games. Meanwhile, Livorno are unbeaten in their last three and have taken eleven points out of a possible fifteen in their last five home games.

Livorno will again be without Jose Luis Vidigal with a thigh strain and Jorge Vargas is also racing to recover from the same injury. There are expected to be wholesale changes in the Livorno team, with Cristiano Lucarelli returning in place of Tomas Danilevicius and the return of Marc Pfertzel and Claudio Grauso.

Cagliari have been struck a blow with the news that influential forward Gianfranco Zola is potentially out for a month with a muscle strain. Zola picked up the injury in last week’s impressive win over Roma. The only changes to the line-up who started against the Giallorossi should see Antonio Langella slot into the side to replace the veteran Zola and Rolando Bianchi come in for the suspended Esposito.

Livorno (probable): Amelia; Grandoni, Vargas, Galante; Pfertzel, Vigiani, Passoni, Grauso, Doga; Protti, C Lucarelli

Cagliari (probable): Iezzo; Lopez, Bega, Maltagliati, Agostini; Conti, Budel, Gobbi; Bianchi, Suazo, Langella

Messina - Bologna

Bologna travel to Messina on Sunday hoping to improve upon their recent run of results. After a fine start to 2005, the Rossoblu have drawn four of their last six games and are slowly edging away from contention for a European spot.

Despite the two sides being separated by five League places, a Messina victory would see them leapfrog Bologna in the table. And the Sicilian club will fancy their chances after ending a six-game winless streak with two consecutive wins. Another win here would surely end their relegation fears.

Bologna are likely to make two changes to the side who were held by Siena on Week 28, although none of them are enforced. Andrea Sussi is likely to return to make up a four-man defence, with Theo Zagorakis returning to give the midfield more steel.

With no suspensions and few injury problems, Messina will be able to call upon Domenico Giampa to replace Rafael to give the side a more attacking look in an otherwise unchanged side.

Messina (probable): Storari; Cristante, Rezaei, Aronica, Parisi; Coppola, Donati, Giampa, D’Agostino, Iliev; Zampagna

Bologna (probable): Pagliuca; Juarez, Torrisi, Gamberini, Sussi; Nervo, Zagorakis, Colucci, Bellucci; Locatelli, Tare

Parma - Palermo

Parma face a vital battle for points against a Palermo side with European ambitions. Pietro Carmignani’s side are hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone, and may be distracted by thoughts of their midweek UEFA Cup match with Sevilla. The two sides drew 1-1 earlier in the season, a repeat would not satisfy either club as they both chase different goals.

Palermo will be keen to bounce back from their devastating 5-1 home defeat to Udinese in Week 28. The Rosaneri’s hopes of stealing into the fourth Champions’ League spot were struck a heavy blow at the Renzo Barbera and Francesco Guidolin will expect his side to get their challenge back on track at the Ennio Tardini.

Luca Toni should return to the Palermo line-up while Cristian Zaccardo and Massimo Mutarelli are expected to come in for Kewullay Conteh and Mariano Gonzalez. Palermo have taken at least a point from their last five away games, notching up wins at Fiorentina and Lazio, so will feel confident against under-achieving Parma. Although the Emilia Romagna side are unbeaten in six home matches.

Parma have a minor injury crisis. Defender Stefano Bettarini is out with a muscle injury and Marco Marchionni is suffering from a knee problem, while Damiano Ferronetti is out with a back injury. There is a boost for the Gialloblu with the return from suspension of goalkeeper Sebastian Frey. For Palermo, Pietro Accardi and Davide Possanzini are unavailable with knee and cartilage injuries respectively.

Parma (probable): Frey; Cannavaro, Bonera, Bovo, Contini; Pisanu, Simplicio, Bolano, Bresciano; Morfeo; Gilardino

Palermo (probable): Guardalben; Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava, Grosso; Mutarelli, Corini, Barone; Brienza, Zauli; Toni

Roma - Milan

As Serie A debut games go, new Roma Coach Bruno Conti couldn’t have asked for a tougher baptism of fire than to face the reigning Scudetto holders – who are bossed by his close friend and former Roma teammate Carlo Ancelotti. Gigi Del Neri relinquished control at the Capital club following three straight Serie A defeats and Conti will do well to prevent that figure becoming four.

To make matters worse, he will have to do without the influential Daniele De Rossi, who is suspended following his red card against Cagliari, allowing Alberto Aquilani to return to the side. Traianos Dellas is also suspended, so Cristian Chivu should make his first start of the season. And Christian Panucci is expected to replace Abel Xavier to help shore up the Roma defence.

After shipping three goals to Cagliari in Sardinia, Roma will have to improve dramatically if they are to take anything from Milan. Their form against the Rossoneri has been indifferent in recent years, although they have won two of their last three meetings at the Stadio Olimpico.

Last season’s encounters between the two sides saw Milan win 1-0 and 2-1, with all three of their goals coming from Andriy Shevchenko. But they will have to look elsewhere for inspiration this weekend as the Ukrainian hitman is unlikely to have recovered from his broken cheekbone in time to make the squad.

Milan are also likely to be without Alessandro Nesta, who was injured against Sampdoria. He is likely to be replaced by Giueseppe Pancaro, with Paolo Maldini reverting to centre-back. Despite winning seven consecutive games, six of these have been by just a solitary goal and Milan have been far from convincing. But it would take a brave man to bet against Ancelotti’s side making it eight wins in a row.

Roma (probable): Zotti; Panucci, Chivu, Ferrari, Cufre; Aquilani, Dacourt, Perrotta; Totti, Montella, Cassano

Milan (probable): Dida; Cafu, Maldini, Stam, Pancaro; Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf; Kaka, Rui Costa; Crespo

Sampdoria - Atalanta

It was a dull goalless encounter between Sampdoria and Atalanta at the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia in November. Since then, however, the Blucerchiati have stormed into the top four and are level on points with Inter in the Champions’ League places. Walter Novellino’s side are unbeaten in their last nine home matches and face an Atalanta side who have failed to score a win on the road this season.

Firmly rooted to the foot of the table, the Nerazzurri picked up a morale-boosting win over Parma last week, thanks to Adriano’s second half strike. Another win at the Luigi Ferraris will rekindle their faint hope of avoiding the drop to Serie B. However, they have lost their last three trips to face Doria and haven’t registered a win against their Week 29 opponents since 1997.

On the injury front, Sampdoria’s Marcello Castellini is still out with his knee problem. Fausto Rossini is sidelined with a foot injury while Atalanta have long-term casualty Igor Budan unavailable. The only change for Samp should see Vitali Kutuzov come in to replace Rossini in the forward line. Atalanta will make just one alteration to their winning line-up from last weekend, Giulio Migliaccio replacing Nicola Mingazzini.

Sampdoria (probable): Antonioli; Zenoni, Pavan, Falcone, Pisano; Diana, Palombo, Volpi, Tonetto; Flachi, Kutuzov

Atalanta (probable): Calderoni; Rivalta, Sala, Natali; Motta, Migliaccio, Bernardini, Montolivo, Bellini; Marcolini; Makinwa

Siena - Lazio

Siena will be hoping to finally climb out of the relegation zone when they take on Lazio at the Artemio Franchi. Luigi De Canio’s men are just two points behind Chievo, who lie fourth from bottom. But in their previous three games, the Tuscany-based club have only picked up one point.

The Biancocelesti travel to Siena for only the second time in a Serie A match and they will have unhappy memories of their first trip last season – a 3-0 defeat. However, it is a very different side they bring with them this weekend, led by Giuseppe Papadopulo. And with three wins in their last six matches, it might not be all doom and gloom for the Romans.

They will have to do without veterans Angleo Peruzzi and Paolo Di Canio, with both men still sidelined with injury while Ousmane Dabo replaces the suspended Giuliano Giannichedda. Siena are boosted by the news that Igor Tudor returns from suspension.

Siena (probable): Manninger; Mignani, Tudor, Portanova; Alberto, D’Aversa, Cozza, Vergassola, Pasquale; Chiesa, Flo

Lazio (probable): Sereni; Oddo, Siviglia, Couto, Zauri; A Filippini, Dabo, Liverani, E Filippini; Bazzani, Rocchi

Udinese - Lecce

After a 5-1 win at Palermo in Week 28, Udinese will feel confident about taking on free-scoring Lecce at the Stadio Friuli. However, until that result, the Bianconeri had failed to win in four matches – but their dream of qualifying for the Champions’ League is still very much alive.

Standing in their way are Serie A’s top scorers, Lecce. Despite their ability to hit the back of the net at will, the Giallorossi are languishing in mid-table and with very little to play for. But Zdenek Zeman’s attacking brand of football should ensure that they continue to entertain.

Neither side has any major injury concerns, although Udinese will be without the inspirational Nestor Sensini for at least another week. David Di Michele will hope to carry on where he left off in Palermo, where he bagged the first hat-trick of his career and he will be partnered by Vincenzo Iaquinta once more.

Udinese (probable): De Sanctis; Bertotto, Kroldrup, Felipe; Zenoni, Pinzi, Pizarro, Muntari, Jankulovski; Iaquinta, Di Michele

Lecce (probable): Sicignano; Cassetti, Diamoutene, Stovini, Rullo; Giacomazzi, Ledesma, Dalla Bona, Konan; Vucinic, Pinardi
Primera Liga matches, March 19-20
Fri Mar 18, 2005 12:04 PM GMT
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By Mark Elkington
MADRID, March 18 (Reuters) - Barcelona can take a commanding 14-point lead at the top of the Primera Liga on Saturday if they can overcome a resurgent Deportivo Coruna at the Riazor.

With second-placed Real Madrid not playing Malaga until Sunday, Frank Rijkaard's side have the chance to crank up the pressure on their rivals, who suffered a demoralising 2-1 defeat at lowly Getafe last Sunday.

The league leaders responded to their Champions League exit to Chelsea last week with a morale-boosting 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao last weekend, but are taking nothing for granted with 10 games left to play this season.

"The league isn't decided yet, and we can only claim it as ours when it has actually been won," Ronaldinho told sports daily Mundo Deportivo.

"We are aware that we still have a lot of weaknesses and we will continue to have the utmost respect for all the rivals we have yet to play."

Ronaldinho and Deco have suffered with gastroenteritis during the week while Demetrio Albertini and Rafael Marquez have had slight muscle strains but all are expected to be available on Saturday.

Ninth-placed Deportivo are looking to claw their way back into the European places after rediscovering some form of late claiming 10 points from a possible 12 in recent weeks.

The arrival of Argentine defender Fabricio Coloccini from AC Milan in January has helped strengthen Depor at the back and they have only conceded one goal in their last four outings.

Other matches being played this weekend (kickoff times 1600 GMT unless stated; league positions in brackets):



With third-placed Villarreal playing in the UEFA Cup on Sunday, Espanyol have the opportunity to move up to third if they can beat an inconsistent Real Sociedad. Barcelona-based Espanyol need to recover from a 4-1 humbling against Villarreal last time out. - - - -

REAL BETIS (5) v ALBACETE (19) 1700

Real Betis can put themselves in the Champions League places with a win over relegation-threatened Albacete, who have lost five of their last six games.

The Andalucians will be without injured midfielder Capi. - - - -



Bilbao's season is in danger of falling apart as they have suffered three league defeats in four games since Austria Vienna knocked them out of the UEFA Cup last month.

Levante defender Alexis is suspended while Bilbao are without defender Aitor Karanka who will miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury. - - - -


Rock-bottom Numancia are making a brave bid to avoid relegation with only one defeat in five and can drag struggling Racing Santander closer the drop zone with a win in Soria.

Racing have not collected three points on the road since October. - - - -

REAL MADRID (2) v MALAGA (15) 1800

If Real Madrid are to have any chance of cutting Barcelona's lead at the top they need to win at home against the likes of Malaga.

Last weekend's defeat at Getafe highlighted a lack of commitment and a much improved performance will be expected against a side who have hustled themselves into mid-table in recent weeks.

Defender Michel Salgado could return to action though Thomas Gravesen is suspended, while Juanito is suspended for the visitors. - - - -


Sevilla have to pick themselves up from their UEFA Cup exit to Parma on Thursday and focus on securing a return to Europe again next year.

Joaquin Caparros' side have only taken two points from their last five games and are in danger of slipping out of the UEFA Cup places. Mallorca have lost four of their last five games, and have defender Poli suspended. - - - -


Wins over Sevilla and Valencia have re-energised Atletico Madrid's bid for a place in Europe though they are deprived of suspended winger Jesper Gronkjaer and have Luis Perea, Ariel Ibagaza and Salva Ballesta out with injuries.

Zaragoza have to get over Thursday's UEFA Cup exit to Austria Vienna if they are to stay in the hunt for Europe. - - - -


An emotional victory over Real Madrid last Sunday, and their first away win of the season in Bilbao on Wednesday, means Getafe travel to the Mestalla in confident mood.

Valencia, who suffered their first defeat under coach Antonio Lopez last Sunday against Atletico Madrid, will be without defender Armedeo Carboni. - - - -

Osasuna v Villarreal is postponed due to Villarreal's UEFA Cup tie against Steaua Bucharest.
FRANKFURT, March 18 (Reuters) - After knocking Bayern Munich off the top of the Bundesliga, Schalke 04 have to prove they have the nerve to lead the title race from the front, starting away to FSV Mainz on Sunday (kickoff 1630 GMT).

Schalke have shown remarkable consistency since Ralf Rangnick took over as coach in September, winning 15 of their 19 league games.

The latest of those, a 1-0 win at home to Bayern last weekend, took them three points clear of their chief rivals at the top of the table.

Bayern have a straightforward home game on Saturday against relegation candidates Hansa Rostock and, as Felix Magath's side have much better goal difference, Schalke may once again find themselves in second place by the time they take on Mainz.

"It's a very nice feeling being top but we're aware that it's going to be very difficult to defend first place," Schalke keeper Frank Rost told Kicker this week.

"We know we may well have to win back top spot several more times if we're going to be champions."

Rangnick will hope to have Gerald Asamoah back fit in time to start against Mainz, after the German forward suffered a muscle injury early in last week's game against Bayern.

Mainz will be hit by the suspension of former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Hanno Balitsch for accumulated yellow cards.
Mainz; 1 Wache - 28 Abel, 10 M. Friedrich, 4 Noveski, 24 Weigelt - 8 F. Gerber, 14 Kramny, 19 Babatz, 25 da Silva - 21 Casey, 7 Auer -
Schalke; 1 F. Rost - 18 Oude Kamphuis, 5 Bordon, 20 Krstajic, 24 Pander - 17 Vermant, 3 Kobiashvili - 10 Lincoln - 14 Asamoah, 11 Sand, 9 Ailton -


Leverkusen badly need to tighten up after slipping out of the Champions League and then defending horribly in a 3-3 draw with a Hertha Berlin side playing with 10 men for 80 minutes.

The bad news for Klaus Augenthaler as the side bid to get back into the race for third place is that Roque Junior, Juan and Jens Nowotny are all still missing though injury.

Kaiserslautern have an injury doubt over defender Herve Lembi. - - - -
Leverkusen; 1 Butt - 25 B. Schneider, 29 Callsen-Bracker, 35 Placente, 26 Dum - 28 Ramelow - 10 Freier, 7 Ponte, 16 Krzynowek - 9 Berbatov, 12 Voronin
Kaiserlautern; 21 T. Ernst - 2 Lembi, 5 Hertzsch, 4 Wenzel, 16 Blank - 23 Riedl, 13 Sforza, 20 Engelhardt - 17 Seitz, 19 Halil Altintop, 30 Kosowski


Bayern could have Roy Makaay back to lead the attack, with the Dutch striker nearing full fitness again following the hamstring injury that has kept him out of the last two games.

The return of Makaay would be a big boost for the Bavarians, who will go back top for at least 24 hours with victory on Saturday.

They have failed to score in each of those two games they have played without their leading striker, and coach Felix Magath will be unable to call on Paolo Guerrero because of a muscle tear.

Rostock have won their last two games to raise hopes that they may avoid the drop.
B M;1 Kahn - 2 Sagnol, 3 Lucio, 5 R. Kovac, 69 Lizarazu - 20 Salihamidzic, 6 Demichelis, 13 Ballack, 26 Deisler - 10 Makaay, 14 Pizarro -
Hansa; : 1 Schober - 33 Hartmann, 3 Möhrle, 23 Lapaczinski, 6 Maul - 17 Lantz, 14 Persson - 30 Vorbeck, 28 Litmanen, 11 Prica - 19 di Salvo -
- - - -


There seems little hope for Bochum after their 3-1 defeat against Hansa Rostock last weekend. Wolfsburg are still in with a shout for a European place next season after holding on for a 1-0 win over Hanover 96 last weekend. They will be without Dutch centre-back Kevin Hofland because of suspension but Argentine playmaker Andres d'Alessandro should be fit. - - - -
Bochum; : 1 van Duijnhoven - 5 Colding, 15 Knavs, 3 Meichelbeck, 24 P. Bönig - 18 F. Tapalovic, 17 Preuß - 16 Misimovic - 9 P. Madsen, 11 Lokvenc, 22 Edu -
Wolfs; 1 Jentzsch - 2 Rytter, 18 Quiroga, 33 Franz, 5 Schnoor - 27 Karhan, 6 Thiam, 26 Fischer - 36 Menseguez, 9 Klimowicz, 21 M. Petrov

Hamburg have real hopes of third place, and qualification for next season's Champions League, after a brilliant 4-3 win away to Arminia Bielefeld last weekend. They will be without midfielder Miso Brecko but are otherwise at full strength. Dortmund, apparently safe from relegation and with little to play for, will have to reshuffle at the back, as Christian Woerns is ruled out. - - - -
HSV; 23 Wächter - 21 Boulahrouz, 4 B. Reinhardt, 5 van Buyten, 16 Klingbeil - 14 Jarolim, 28 Benjamin, 22 Beinlich - 10 Barbarez - 11 Lauth, 32 Takahara
B Dortmund; 1 Weidenfeller - 2 Evanilson, 35 Brzenska, 21 C. Metzelder, 17 Dede - 6 Kringe, 5 Kehl, 10 Rosicky - 14 Smolarek, 9 Koller, 18 Ricken

Hanover have lost every one of their home games since the inauguration of their World Cup stadium in January. This looks to be a good opportunity to set that record straight, with Moenchengladbach in poor form and once again flirting with relegation. - - - -
Hannover; 1 Enke - 6 Cherundolo, 29 Mertesacker, 3 Zuraw, 18 Tarnat - 2 Vinicius - 27 Schröter, 20 But - 17 Krupnikovic - 15 Paunovic, 28 Kaufman -
B Mönch; 26 Keller - 14 Fukal, 18 Moore, 5 van Kerckhoven, 32 Jansen - 24 Kluge, 16 Thijs, 8 Ulich, 11 Böhme - 27 Neuville, 25 Sverkos - Trainer: Advocaat


Hertha, one of five teams with their sights fixed on third place, fought back brilliantly to gain a point from last weekend's away game against Bayer Leverkusen. The same sort of performance here should give them victory over a Bielefeld side with a weak defence. Dick van Burik starts a two-match ban for the home side. - - - -
Hertha; 12 Fiedler - 3 A. Friedrich, 14 Simunic, 29 Fathi - 5 N. Kovac - 32 T. Marx, 7 Bastürk, 20 Neuendorf - 15 Reina, 10 Marcelinho - 24 Rafael
Arm B; 1 Hain - 16 Lense, 3 Borges, 4 Gabriel, 2 Schuler - 5 Kauf, 6 Dammeier - 22 Owomoyela, 21 Porcello, 7 Buckley - 10 Vata

Werder need a confidence boost after they followed up their heavy Champions League defeat by Olympique Lyon with a frustrating goalless draw with FSV Mainz last weekend.#

"We've lost third place and the other sides are snapping at our heels," sporting director Klaus Allofs said this week. "The game against Nuremberg is one we must win." - - - -
Nurnb; 12 Langerbein - 6 S. Müller, 13 Cantaluppi, 20 Bosacki, 17 L. Müller - 26 Wagefeld, 16 Larsen, 24 Lagerblom - 11 Mintal - 27 Kießling, 9 Daun -
W Bremen; 1 Reinke - 7 Stalteri, 25 Ismaël, 3 Pasanen, 27 Schulz - 24 Borowski, 6 Baumann, 4 F. Ernst - 10 Micoud - 11 Klose, 38 Valdez -


Stuttgart will have to do without Portuguese midfielder Fernando Meira, as he starts a two-match ban for the red card he received in last weekend's 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund. Freiburg, now almost certainties for relegation, may be without Georgia international midfielder Levan Tskitishvili with an ankle problem.
Stuttg; 1 Hildebrand - 2 Hinkel, 4 Zivkovic, 5 Babbel, 3 Stranzl - 20 Soldo, 7 Meißner - 13 Tiffert, 10 A. Hleb, 18 Cacau - 22 Kuranyi -
Freiburg; 1 Golz - 4 Khizaneishvili, 16 Hermel, 3 Mohamad - 11 Kruppke, 6 Bajramovic, 15 Berner - 8 Cairo, 10 Coulibaly, 9 Iashvili - 12 Koejoe -
(BBC, Sporting Life, Channel 4, Sky-Sport, Reuters,)


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