joi, 27 februarie 2014

La Liga: Madrid derby could shape

Atletico Madrid will put their Spanish title hopes on the line when they host league leaders Real Madrid on Sunday.

Real, ahead by three points, have looked unstoppable lately, stretching an unbeaten run to 27 games in all competitions following Wednesday's 6-1 rout of Schalke.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale are supplying the goals while goalkeepers Diego Lopez and Iker Casillas have shown no fatigue sharing the duties between three competitions.

"Our three forwards are so dangerous in attack," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "(Schalke) might have been Bale's best game of the season, he's showing a lot more confidence in his play."

The three forwards have combined to score 70 goals in all competitions to make Madrid the title favourites.

A full week without football might be just the rest Atletico's players needed as their title charge has hit a bit of a slump.

Atletico lost at Osasuna 3-0 to slip three points behind Madrid and another loss will all but keep them from breaking a Madrid-Barcelona monopoly on the league that has lasted a decade.

"We know how important the derby is," Atletico striker Diego Costa said. "If we lose, winning the league will be much more difficult. But I don't think we ever thought of ourselves as title contenders."

Atletico have lost twice in three games since topping the league for the first time since 1996.

meanwhile, despite a poor effort in losing at Sociedad 3-1 last weekend, Barcelona will likely look forward to Almeria's visit following all the recent scrutiny because of Neymar's transfer drama.

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino has been under pressure, too, and the Argentine will be absent from the touchline at the Camp Nou due to a ban.

"We're training hard. Because of Saturday's loss we're all upset with ourselves," said Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who did not play at Sociedad. "We know it's the moment of truth, we can't afford any more slip-ups."

Barcelona have never lost in 11 meetings with Almeria, winning nine of those by a combined score of 31-1.

With Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico looking almost certain to finish in the top three, that leaves one qualifying place left for next year's Champions League.

Athletic Bilbao have held fourth place for a good chunk of the season, with Sociedad and Villarreal only four points behind the Basques.

Athletic host Granada on Friday, which means Sociedad will go to Sevilla and Villarreal will welcome last-placed Real Betis on Sunday knowing exactly what results they will need to keep up the chase.

"We're involved in a really tough fight, against very difficult rivals who show they won't allow any type of advantage," Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo said. via

Premier League: Stoke City v Arsenal

Title-chasing Arsenal will bid to overcome a poor record at the Britannia Stadium when they come up against Stoke City on Saturday.

Although Arsene Wenger's men have won seven of the 11 Premier League meetings between the two clubs, only one of those triumphs has come at Stoke, who boast home wins over Chelsea and Manchester United this season.

Arsenal head into this weekend's game just one point behind leaders Chelsea and know that overcoming a difficult away day would enhance their chances of lifting a first league title since 2004.

The north London club should head into the game in good spirits, having responded to a 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich by thumping strugglers Sunderland 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.

Wenger is now urging Arsenal to reach a consistent level in their remaining 11 league matches, believing the title race could well go down to the wire.

"Overall, it will be very tight," predicted Wenger.

"If you are consistent, you will have a good chance to win it."

Arsenal have been impressive on the road this season, collecting 26 points on their travels – a tally surpassed only by near neighbours Tottenham.

Stoke, however, boast a solid home record with 21 of their 27 league points coming at the Britannia.

Peter Crouch has four goals in his last six home outings and the former Tottenham striker has proved a thorn in Arsenal's side in the past, scoring seven goals against them in the Premier League.

Stoke are currently on a three-match winless run in the top flight and casting nervous glances at the relegation zone.

Hughes' men occupy 15th position, but have a chance to put further distance between themselves and the bottom three with 18th-placed Sunderland playing in the League Cup final this weekend.

Arsenal have doubts over the fitness of Nacho Monreal (foot) and Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), meaning Thomas Vermaelen could be asked to fill in at left-back following his recovery from a knee injury.

Mesut Ozil is available after missing the Sunderland victory, but Aaron Ramsey, who suffered a horrific broken leg at Stoke four years ago, is set to miss out again with a thigh problem.

Stoke are without winger Oussama Assaidi (knee), but central defender Robert Huth could be named among the substitutes after being absent for three months due to a knee issue. via

Bundesliga: Bayern Münich v Schalke 04

Bayern Münich represent daunting hosts on Saturday for a Schalke side seeking to bounce back from a mauling at the hands of Real Madrid.

The Gelsenkirchen outfit were subjected to a humiliating 6-1 thrashing by Real on Wednesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie.

Schalke had entered the fixture in confident mood, with Real having won only once in 25 previous visits to German opposition.

Yet Real are not top of La Liga by accident and a scintillating display from the Spanish side, which saw Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all score twice, has seemingly put paid to any hopes Schalke have of reaching the quarter-finals.

Life is not likely to get any easier for Jens Keller's men when they travel to the Allianz Arena to face runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern.

Pep Guardiola's charges have been simply unstoppable in Germany's top flight this season, and their relentless march towards a defence of the Bundesliga title shows no signs of being slowed.

The unbeaten Bavarians have dropped points on just two occasions this term thanks to a mix of irresistible attacking displays and defensive solidarity, highlighted by the fact Bayern boast comfortably the best offensive and defensive record in the league with 61 goals scored and just nine conceded.

Bayern may have swept opponents aside this term but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was rested last weekend, has warned his team-mates not to underestimate the club he started his career with.

"Schalke are always a strong opponent. You know you have to be careful and you will never win easily against them. We are highly motivated and we need to have the right attitude for the match," he said.

Prior to their heavy defeat against Real, Schalke had displayed excellent form, winning five times in an unbeaten run of league games spanning seven matches.

However, Schalke have lost six games in a row against Bayern without scoring, conceding at least four in the previous three meetings between the teams.

Thomas Muller misses out for Bayern this weekend due to a hamstring injury, while the game could come too soon for Franck Ribery (thigh) and Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring).

Schalke forward Julian Draxler made his first start since December against Real after an ankle injury and was able to complete the full 90 minutes. via

Serie A: Milan face Juve challege, Roma host Inter

Milan's recent resurgence under Clarence Seedorf could come to a grinding halt when they face Serie A leaders Juventus on Sunday.

Seedorf has made a fine start to his coaching career at San Siro, losing just one league game since taking over from Massimiliano Allegri last month and keeping Milan in contention for UEFA Europa League qualification.

Indeed, Milan are five points behind fifth-placed city rivals Inter and making up that deficit could be crucial for a team that are 1-0 down from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash with Atletico Madrid.

However, Milan now host the defending champions Juve, who are in pole position to seal a third straight Serie A title having lost just one league game all season.

Juve are nine points clear of Roma at the top of the table and should approach the game with confidence knowing that they have lost only one of the last eight meetings between the two sides in all competitions, although Milan did emerge 1-0 winners at San Siro last season.

Roma will look to keep up the pressure on Antonio Conte's side with a win over Inter on Saturday.

Inter are winless in eight meetings with Roma who, like Juve, have lost just once in Serie A this term - with that reverse coming at the Juventus Stadium last month.

But Walter Mazzarri's Inter are also in strong form with just one defeat in five and will hope that recent acquisition Hernanes, a January signing from Roma's arch-rivals Lazio, can help them secure a long-awaited win against the capital club.

Meanwhile, Napoli travel to relegation-threatened Livorno as Rafael Benitez's side aim to further cement third place.

Napoli cruised to a 4-0 win in the reverse fixture back in October in a fine display at the Stadio San Paolo.

A total of 31 points separate the two sides, but the hosts should take heart from recent performances, which have seen Livorno beat Sassuolo and Cagliari to boost their survival hopes.

Benitez's men know that any slip up will allow Fiorentina, ravaged by suspensions to Borja Valero, David Pizarro and Modibo Diakite following ugly scenes in Monday's draw with Parma, to gain ground in the race for the final Champions League place with victory over Lazio.

Verona host struggling Bologna and bottom club Sassuolo entertain Parma desperate for the points after one win in the previous 12 league games.

Catania and Cagliari will look to ease their respective relegation worries with wins against Genoa and Udinese, while Chievo can pull away from the bottom three with triumph at Atalanta and Torino host Sampdoria. via

miercuri, 26 februarie 2014

Europa League: Napoli v Swansea City

Swansea City visit Napoli with renewed confidence after the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last-32 tie ended in a goalless draw.

Garry Monk's men turned in one of their best performances of the season last Thursday to give themselves a fighting chance heading to the Stadio San Paolo.

Indeed, the only thing missing from the Welsh side's display was a goal - something they will be looking to rectify in Italy.

Somewhat frustratingly for Monk, after watching his side fail to score against Napoli in a match they could have won, he then saw Swansea put three past Liverpool on Sunday, but to no avail as the Anfield club recorded a 4-3 win in the Premier League.

Napoli - third in Serie A - might have some concerns about their form, having followed up the draw in south Wales with a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa in the Italian top flight.

Rafael Benitez's side have four wins from their last 10 fixtures, but the Spaniard insists their continued involvement in three competitions is not having an adverse effect.

"It is not a physical issue at all," he said. " The team is good and all staff are involved in both the championship and Coppa Italia - the players know they have to distribute energy.

"Swansea played a great game against Liverpool in the weekend’s Premier League fixtures, despite losing a very close contest.

"They could make things very difficult. We must be prepared to go the distance."

Swansea will be looking to make it into the last 16 for the first time in their history, while Napoli lost out to Viktoria Plzen at this stage last year, suffering a 5-0 aggregate defeat.

Napoli are likely to have Pepe Reina in goal after Rafael picked up a knee injury in the first leg.

Swansea could hand a start to Jonjo Shelvey, who made a goalscoring Premier League return from a hamstring injury against his former club at the weekend.

However, doubts remain over the fitness of attacker Michu, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since December.

In Michu's absence, Wilfried Bony has shouldered greater responsibility for Swansea and the Dutch forward heads to Italy in form, having scored twice at Liverpool to take his tally for the season to 19 in all competitions. via

marți, 25 februarie 2014

Europa League: Tottenham H. v Dnipro D.

Juande Ramos returns to Tottenham with a point to prove on Thursday, but faces a big ask to oust his old club from the UEFA Europa League.

It was the Dnipro head coach who masterminded Tottenham's last trophy triumph as he won the League Cup in February 2008.

Eight months later, however, the Spaniard was sacked with the London club bottom of the Premier League and Ramos now heads back to his former stomping ground bidding to protect a 1-0 lead following the first leg of the last-16 tie between the two sides last week.

The odds appear to be stacked against Dnipro – fourth in the Ukrainian Premier League – reaching the quarter-finals given Tottenham's formidable home record in the competition.

Tottenham have suffered just one defeat in their last 18 Europa League ties at White Hart Lane, winning 12 of those matches, including the last four in a row this season.

Tim Sherwood, Ramos' counterpart, is also expected to name a much stronger starting XI than the one he deployed in Ukraine last Thursday, when the notable absentee was Emmanuel Adebayor, who has scored five goals in his last six games.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and winger Aaron Lennon sat out the game as well, but the trio all returned to Premier League action at the weekend to suggest they will be involved this time around.

In addition, Sherwood will expect his side to be more ruthless in attack as Roberto Soldado was guilty of a poor miss in the first leg before Yevhen Konoplyanka netted the only goal from the penalty spot.

"We will score at the Lane, guaranteed," stated a confident Sherwood when asked for his views on the return encounter.

Perhaps some of Sherwood's optimism stems from the fact that the playing conditions will suit Tottenham this time around.

A major talking point from the first leg was the state of the Dnipro Arena's pitch, which Sherwood labelled a "disgrace" after seeing the ball bobble badly on an uneven surface.

The two sets of players will experience no such problems on Thursday, although Tottenham could be short on confidence following Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Norwich City.

Midfielder Etienne Capoue sustained a leg injury during the loss at Carrow Road that makes him a doubt.

Dnipro, meanwhile, should feel fresh as Ramos' men had a free weekend due to the fact that the Ukrainian Premier League is still on its mid-season break.

Either PAOK or Benfica await the winners in the next round. via

Real Madrid hoping to win in Germany for the first time

Real Madrid will be heading into their Round-of-16 tie as favourites against a resurgent FC Schalke team, buoyed by the return of front-man Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Astonishingly, for a club of Real Madrid’s pedigree, the Spanish side has never won a competitive match in Germany. Most recently, the team from Madrid had the chance to put that horrible statistic to bed, but failed to do so on three occasions.

In the 2011/12 Champions League Semi-finals, Los Blancos conceded in the dying stages of the match against Bayern Munich to lose 2-1 – courtesy of a Mario Gómez goal. Fast forward to the following season and Madrid had the opportunity to atone for their misfortunes twice, but were once again unsuccessful in their endeavours, this time against Borussia Dortmund – failing in the group stage and being utterly put to the sword in the Semi-finals, losing 2-1 and 4-1 respectively.

The Spaniard’s dilemma is perhaps akin to the dynamism and tactical discipline, prominently instilled in German sides. However, Los Merengues will be longing to change such a miserable attribute, currently synonymous with the Spanish giants.

Despite their struggles in Germany, Madrid have been in phenomenal form boasting a remarkable unbeaten run of 26 matches. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to return to an already formidable line-up. The Portuguese international was imperious in the group stage scoring an unprecedented 9 goals in just 6 games – astronomical figures even by his lofty standards.

The elusive German triumph appears more tangible than ever, testament of Carlo Ancelotti’s magnificent managerial proficiencies in Europe’s supreme club competition. The Italian tactician is a master of the Champions League conquering Europe twice with Milan in 2003 and 2007.

Schalke, meanwhile, have impressed of late, albeit partaking in a scoreless draw at home to Mainz. The Gelsenkirchen based side find themselves consolidating fourth place, determined to finish in the top three. However, the German side is eager to perform on the biggest stage in Europe – with the likes of Draxler, Farfan and Boateng desperate to have an influence on the match.

Given the current form of the Galaticos, – which incidentally is Madrid’s second best undefeated streak, it is difficult to fathom the possibility of a Schalke upset. In addition, Madrid find themselves as out-right league leaders for the first time since May 2012 Therefore, taking confidence into the Champions League should not be a cause for concern. Instead pouring extra pressure on a Schalke side that has high expectations of performing amongst the colossus’s of European football.

Regardless of the outcome, it will certainly be a riveting and exhilarating match between two sides that provide excellent attacking football. via

luni, 24 februarie 2014

UEFA Champions League: Olympiacos v Manchester Utd

Manchester United travel to Olympiacos in good spirits for the first leg of their last-16 UEFA Champions League tie.

It was always going to be a tough season for the three-times champions of Europe, with David Moyes facing the unenviable task of replacing Alex Ferguson.

United's Premier League form may be inconsistent, but Moyes' men have looked convincing in the Champions League, topping Group A, remaining unbeaten and conceding just three goals in six games.

Last Friday's news that striker Wayne Rooney had signed a new deal until 2019 was well received by the club's supporters and the United and England striker scored 24 hours later in a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

Just as encouraging for Moyes is the return of Robin van Persie after a campaign that has been blighted by injury. The Dutchman has still managed to score 14 goals in all competitions this term, with four coming in his last five league games.

Moyes will check on the fitness of Phil Jones, Rafael da Silva and Jonny Evans, who all missed Saturday's win at Selhurst Park, while Danny Welbeck's knee injury looks set to keep him sidelined.

January signing Juan Mata is ineligible, having played for Chelsea earlier in the competition. In more positive news, Darren Fletcher has been added to United's Champions League squad.

United face an Olympiacos side that are coasting the Super League in Greece. Michel's men are unbeaten in the league since February last year and have this season amassed an astonishing goal difference of plus 69, conceding just nine goals.

Olympiacos made it to the last 16 in dramatic circumstances, finishing second in Group C behind Paris Saint-Germain to progress at the expense of Benfica thanks to a superior head-to-head record.

Michel's team could not be going into Tuesday's first leg in better form after demolishing OFI Crete 4-0 at the weekend, a game that included a hat-trick for Serbian striker Marko Scepovic. Like Mata, though, he is ineligible.

But the victory came at a price. Scepovic got his chance because of a thigh injury to forward Javier Saviola, who will now miss the match with United.

January additions Hernan Perez and Ivan Marcano are both available for Tuesday's clash, while Nelson Valdez also joined last month, but an ankle injury means he is a doubt.

The omens are not good for the Greek side. In four Champions League meetings with Manchester United, Olympiacos have been defeated four times, scoring just twice. via

UEFA Champions League: Zenit v B. Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund's bid to improve on last season's runners-up finish in the UEFA Champions League resumes at Zenit.

Jurgen Klopp's men progressed past Shakhtar Donetsk, Malaga and Real Madrid in the knockout stages to reach the 2012-13 final, before ultimately coming unstuck against fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich, losing 2-1 at Wembley as a result of Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner.

Dortmund topped Group F this term, albeit only narrowly after Arsenal and Napoli also finished on 12 points.

While the Italian side were eliminated from the Champions League, Zenit made it through to the last 16 with half as many points, having finished second in a group dominated by La Liga high-fliers Atletico Madrid.

Zenit's only win in Group G came against Porto, but that sole triumph combined with three draws proved enough to seal a place in the knockout rounds for the second time.

Dortmund, by contrast, had to win four matches to guarantee their progression – with a 2-1 victory at Marseille in matchday six ultimately proving crucial.

After enduring a shaky spell prior to the Bundesliga winter break, Dortmund looked set to return to Champions League action in fine form.

However, the club were sensationally denied a fourth straight league win on Saturday as relegation-threatened Hamburg recorded a shock 3-0 triumph.

Klopp's side are now 20 points behind leaders Bayern following the champions' 4-0 win at Hannover on Sunday, and a point adrift of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Zenit, meanwhile, have not played a competitive match since their final Champions League group game on December 11 due to Russia's winter break and do not return to domestic action until March 9.

Luciano Spalletti's team sit top of the Russian Premier League thanks to a superior head-to-head record against Lokomotiv Moscow, who also have 40 points, but have been inconsistent in recent friendlies.

CSKA Moscow, Trans and Metalurh Donetsk all suffered defeats to Zenit, but the Russians were beaten by Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv.

Spalletti will have a full squad to choose from barring any late fitness problems, meaning Salomon Rondon – a January signing from Rubin Kazan – could make his Champions League debut.

Marco Reus returned from injury against Hamburg and will be available once again, but Mats Hummels (ankle) is a doubt and Ilkay Gundogan (compression of the spine), Sven Bender (pubic bone inflammation), Neven Subotic (knee) and Jakub Blaszczykowski (knee) are definitely out. via

vineri, 14 februarie 2014

Basics of football betting

For a newcomer to betting, let alone online betting, then one may wonder where the best place is to start. Football is naturally one of the largest markets for online sportsbooks, and is the sport which makes people sign up with a bookie, such is its popularity. There are some basics of football betting to take a look at, which can not only help you ease into the world of football betting, but also can help you start making a profit as quickly as possible.

You can’t fail to look at a bookmaker and see the wealth of betting opportunities available for football markets. You will have an idea where to start, and it will probably be with your favourite team. Naturally you will want your team to win and backing them seems like a pretty sound idea. This is a lot of people’s basic introduction into the world of online football betting, as it is an easy entry point. So, all that you need to do from that point is find your team in the Sportsbook coupon and select them to add to your betting slip. You enter your stake and confirm the bet, and you have just made your first wager.

So... that is a very basic introduction to football betting, as you have not taken into any consideration the prices on offer at your bookmaker. Did the bet you make represent good value or not? As a fan of that team you will have a good idea of whether they are supposed to win or not against their opposition. If they are, then the odds will have been low and you will stand to make only a small amount of profit, meaning that you staked a lot in relation to what winnings you will get. If, however they aren’t expected to win, then you will be hoping for a big upset to make you happy, as your odds will have been longer, and there much more valuable to you, if your team does win. Always weigh up the risk of the stake against the potential returns before betting on football, or any sports for that matter, as it should never be overlooked. Always make sure that you are never betting more than you can afford, too. So, what if your team is expected to win and you don’t want to wager too big a stake, and the odds really are not going to give you much back? This is where some basics of football betting start to get a little more interesting. 

Best sports books will present a lot more markets for football betting than just picking an outright winner. Take a look in the extra bets section next to a match and you will see plenty more options such as First GoalscorerAnytime GoalscorerHandicap Betting,Correct ScoreWinning Margin and much, much more. If your outright odds aren’t anything spectacular, then it is well worth dipping into these markets to find something of much better value. There are some good prices to be had around here, and do constitute the basics of football betting. You make your selections just as you would with your outright winner bets, but because these alternative markets are a little more specialised in terms of picking a correct outcome, there are much better prices to be had around. But, if you are happy with accumulating a little profit at a time, then stick with backing your favourite team through thick and thin. 

joi, 13 februarie 2014

Betting Strategies Basketball

Many people ask, ‘Is it possible to earn profit using Basketball betting strategies?’
It has been observed that most of the people who bet, most of them try their luck and statistical analysis shows that around 98% of the people who bet using luck lose their money. For normal people, betting is fate, but in actual, if the statistical aspects of betting are observed it is seen that betting is based on probabilities. This means that if you can calculate the probability of a game or a team then maybe you can find out that how much chances there are for a win, but one can not guarantee that he will win the bet or not.
It has been observed that Basketball is one of the most revenue generating, and it can be achieved by applying Basketball Betting Strategies in a proper and calculated fashion.
- Betting on parlays can often yield bad results, it seems to be an efficient way, but in reality, it reduces the chances of your winning and one should avoid this type of betting.
- You should never try to get back the money that you lose in a game or do not get carried away by the desire to keep pursuing that lost money as you might lose even more in this state of emotions, so just pay whatever you lose and abandon that game.
- Before betting on a team you should get all the information on it so that you know if it has better chances to win or not.
- Do not rely on a one strategy, you should keep on evolving your strategies according to the type of the game and situations.
- If you win a game then you should not increase or decrease the amount you were betting with earlier since it is no guaranteed that you will win the next coming games.
- One of the most common tips is that you should not go for a team that you like but you should choose the team that is better statistically or you can say it this way ‘ choose the team with your brain and not with your heart’
- Always try to access if the favorites can cover the spread or the underdogs will maintain the spread.
- This does not count as much of a strategy but it is efficient than many other ways. You need to get some advice from people who have been in this field for a long time, they can guide beginners very well
because they know about the ups and downs of the games and which strategy would be most effective for the type of game. 
Even if we use all of these strategies, still it cannot be assured nor is it guaranteed that a person following these strategies would get a 100% win rate. These basketball-betting strategies are meant to enhance your chances to win by giving you an idea of the betting system at which through these strategies your winning percentage can increase up to 70% or more.

miercuri, 12 februarie 2014

Ligue 1 Preview: Monaco, Saint-Etienne need to improve

Monaco have lost ground on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain over the last month and need to respond against Toulouse on Sunday.

A home loss to relegation-threatened Valenciennes in December was followed by a 1-1 draw at Montpellier last week.

And champions PSG capitalised on the slip-up made by Claudio Ranieri's side, as they surged five points clear at the top of the table with victory at Ajaccio last time out.

Toulouse are in good Ligue 1 form, unbeaten in six, and won 1-0 at Bordeaux on Saturday - a result that lifted them to 10th in the table.

Monaco striker Radamel Falcao has battled injury issues this season and has scored just once in his last four matches for the club, with Ranieri desperate for the Colombian forward to find form.

PSG host sixth-placed Nantes on Sunday and will be buoyed by their 3-1 Coupe de la Ligue win at Bordeaux on Tuesday.

Goals in the last five minutes from Adrien Rabiot and Blaise Matuidi helped the capital club into the last four, as their bid for a domestic treble gathered pace.

PSG won 2-1 at Nantes earlier this season thanks to Ezequiel Lavezzi's late strike and will enjoy returning to Parc des Princes, where they have not lost in the league since November 2012.

Third-placed Lille are now just two points behind Monaco and take their outstanding record to Saint-Etienne on Friday.

Lille have conceded just 10 goals in 20 Ligue 1 matches and will hope to make the most of Saint-Etienne's humiliating Coupe de France exit at fourth-tier Cannes on Tuesday.

Saint-Etienne, who sit fourth, had the chance to win the penalty shootout that followed a 1-1 draw, but lost their nerve as Cannes celebrated a famous triumph.

Marseille host troubled Valenciennes on Saturday, with the latter facing the prospect of being administratively relegated at the end of the season if their financial problems continue.

They might drop to Ligue 2 on form anyway, but victories in their last two league matches have boosted spirits and seen them rise to 18th.

Other fixtures on Saturday see Bastia take on Bordeaux, Lorient battle Guingamp and Nice face Ajaccio.

There are also matches between Rennes and Evian TG, and Sochaux and Montpellier, while a slowly-improving Lyon hit the road to face Reims on Sunday. via

Coupe de la Ligue: PSG head to Bordeaux, Lyon host Marseille

A place in the semi-final of the Coupe de la Ligue will be at stake when Paris Saint-Germain travel to Bordeaux on Tuesday.

The Ligue 1 leaders have already beaten Francis Gillot's side twice this season and another victory at Stade Chaban-Delmas would see them progress to the last four.

Not since May 2011 have Bordeaux beaten the Parisian giants and they come into the game on the back of a 1-0 home defeat against Toulouse.

PSG had to come from behind to beat bottom-of-the-table Ajaccio 2-1 on Saturday, with Blaise Matuidi scoring the winner.

France midfielder Matuidi was also on target when the Ligue 1 champions won 2-0 at Bordeaux in September and Laurent Blanc's men were 2-1 victors in the Trophee des champions back in August.

The other three quarter-finals will be played on Wednesday night and the pick of the ties is a repeat of the 2012 final between Marseille and Lyon.

Lyon have home advantage against Jose Anigo's side, who came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stade Gerland in Ligue 1 last month.

Marseille beat Lyon 1-0 after extra-time in this competition two years ago, so the home side will have a score to settle.

Troyes are the only team from outside the top flight remaining in the competition and the Ligue 2 outfit will be looking to spring a surprise when they host Evian.

Nice won 2-0 at Nantes in Ligue 1 earlier this month in the Coupe de France and the two sides lock horns once again at Stade de la Beaujoire in the last eight. via

Weligton targets win for Malaga

Malaga captain Weligton is keen to see his team draw the curtain on the first half of the Primera Division season with a winning display against mid-table rivals Levante on today.

With this weekend's fixtures denoting the midway point of the campaign there is little to separate the two teams, with 11th-placed Malaga above their opponents on goal difference only.

Malaga were beaten by Atletico Madrid last time out while Levante have lost their last two matches in La Liga, and Weligton is keen to put some fresh air between themselves and their rivals.

"A win is fundamental to us," the Brazilian defender told the club's official website.

"We've got a difficult away match on today, and following that we've got some tough games coming up at the start of the second round.

"However we're solely focused on our next match against Levante at the moment, and gaining three important points this weekend."

However, Weligton fears defensive woes may not help the team, with Vitorino Antunes and Marcos Angeleri suspended while Jesus Gamez and Eliseu are battling injuries.

He said: "We're all hoping that our team-mates recover in time for today's match, as they're important members of the team.

"However if they're not match-fit in time, the coach has a 'plan B' and we're all ready to get out there and play.

"We can end the first round of the league season with 23 points, so a win on today is crucial."

Levante were in Copa del Rey action in midweek, playing out a goalless draw with Rayo Vallecano in the opening leg of their last-16 clash.

Although their aim remains to keep away from the relegation zone in La Liga, goalkeeper Javi Jimenez admits he is enjoying their cup run and the added confidence it brings to the squad.

"We remain fully focused on the league but the thinking is that a cup run brings all-round benefits as well," he said.

"It is a great competition and the further we go, the much better it is for all of us." via

Serie A Preview: Cagliari v Juventus

Juventus have the longest winning run of the 2013-14 Serie A season in their sights as they prepare to visit Cagliari on Sunday.

Juve currently share that record with Roma, who kicked off the season with 10 straight victories, but a 3-0 triumph over the men from the Italian capital last weekend has teed them up to surpass that marker.

Antonio Conte's men have not been short of goals during their winning streak, netting an average of 2.6 per match, and success against Roma put the reigning champions eight points clear at the top of the table.

However, Juventus will be wary heading into this tie as Cagliari held the Turin outfit to a 1-1 draw when the sides last met in May.

Victor Ibarbo put Cagliari ahead at Juventus Stadium, before Mirko Vucinic spared the hosts' blushes just after the hour mark.

That said, the head-to-head record between these clubs reads in favour of Juve, who have not tasted defeat in the last seven league meetings.

The Sardinians currently sit 12th and have carved out a reputation as draw specialists in recent weeks, with five of their last six games finishing all-square.

Cagliari's last defeat came more than two months ago, when they went down 2-1 at Verona on November 3.

Conte knows his Juve side cannot afford to take their eyes off the prize in the pursuit of a third consecutive Serie A title, and has vowed not to get carried away following the win against Roma.

"Our victory against Roma was a step forward," he said. "This is all it is.

"There is an entire second half of the season to go. Anything can happen from here to the end of the campaign."

Juventus will be without the suspended Andrea Barzagli for the trip to Cagliari, while Nene is expected to miss out for the hosts. via

La Liga Preview: Espanyol v Real Madrid

The pressure is on Real Madrid to beat Espanyol on Sunday and close the five-point gap to La Liga's top two, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

With Barca and Atleti playing each other on Saturday, Carlo Ancelotti's side will make ground on one or both of them if they can extend their unbeaten run over Espanyol to 12 games.

Espanyol have endured an inconsistent season under Javier Aguirre so far with only six league wins to their name, although one of those did come against Atletico at Estadi Cornella El Prat in October.

The Mexican may not be on the sidelines though after being sent to the stands during last week's 1-0 defeat to Osasuna, if he is found guilty of abusing the referee he could face a touchline ban starting this weekend.

Stopping Real Madrid will be difficult given the 32-time league winners have amassed 31 goals in their last eight league matches, with forward Cristiano Ronaldo getting 12 of those to take him to the top of the goalscoring charts in Spain with 20 for the campaign.

The Portugal international is one of the most in-form players across the continent and is odds-on favourite to lift the FIFA Ballon D'Or on Monday after his displays in 2013.

Real are unbeaten in eight games in the league and Ancelotti is demanding a win from his players when they travel to Catalunya, although he is unsure which result he would like to see emerge from the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

"It is hard to think about what the best result (between Atletico and Barca) for us would be," the Italian said ahead of the match.

"They cannot both lose, but neither can they both win. We have to win to make up points with Barcelona or Atletico."

Espanyol have earned draws in their last two meetings with Real, however they come into the game on the back of consecutive defeats in the league and Wednesday's first-leg Copa del Rey tie with second -tier Alcorcon.

Raphael Varane and Sami Khedira (both knee) are the only players unavailable for the visitors but Aguirre will be without his captain Sergio Garcia through suspension and David Lopez after he picked up a thigh injury in midweek. via