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Euro Vision: 4 continental games not to be missed this weekend

There’s the Rome derby, Barcelona’s trip to Seville and Dimitar Berbatov’s debut against Paris Saint-Germain.

Roma defender Leandro Castan and Lazio striker Miroslav Klose.
Roma defender Leandro Castan and Lazio striker Miroslav Klose.
Image: Andrew Medichini/AP/Press Association Images

Serie A: Napoli v AC Milan

Saturday, 7.45pm

NAPOLI COACH RAFAEL Benitez has come in for some harsh criticism after the Partenopei’s grip on third place was loosened by a string of poor results.

Two draws, away to Bologna and at home to Chievo, were followed by a stunning 3-0 reverse at Atalanta last week, leaving Fiorentina only three points behind in fourth and in sight of the third and last Champions League qualifying spot.

Benitez’s rotation policy has been under fire but, while a title bid now looks impossible, the Spaniard replied by underlining the club’s ambition to seal a Champions League place and perhaps a Cup triumph.

“The championship is important, but we are in the semi-finals of the Cup and we’ll be trying to get to the final,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s first-leg reverse.

Milan are expected to be without Kaka due to flu, paving the way for the possible debut of Moroccan international winger Adel Taarabt. Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is also expected to start.

On TV? BT Sport 2

Serie A: Lazio v Roma

Sunday, 3pm

Roma’s Serie A title credentials face a test in the capital derby against Lazio on Sunday, while Juventus travel to a Verona side intent on making life difficult for Antonio Conte’s leaders.

Roma sit nine points behind Juventus at the top but with a game in hand after last week’s home fixture against Parma was abandoned early on when torrential rain made conditions unplayable.

While the match has yet to be rescheduled, Rudi Garcia’s side are fancied to maintain their momentum after a 3-2 victory over Napoli on Wednesday in the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final.

The win came complete with a stunning goal from Dutchman Kevin Strootman and a brace from Gervinho, including the 88th-minute winner, and had Roma president James Pallotta purring about the Ivorian international forward.

“He’s a joy to watch, he runs so fast that the opponents can never catch him,” said Pallotta.

Roma’s last defeat was a 3-0 reverse away to Juve at the turn of the year but the Giallorossi have hit the net 10 time in their three league games since then.

And their midweek triumph over Napoli underlined why they are favourites to make it a fourth consecutive league win.

On TV? BT Sport 2

La Liga: Sevilla v Barcelona

Sunday, 8pm

It is the first time in 59 league games that Barca will not go into the weekend as leaders and they face another tricky game as they travel to Sevilla on Sunday.

However, former Sevilla right-back Dani Alves has criticised some of the negativity that has dogged Barca this season despite another record-breaking start to the campaign.

“It is important to win. We live with that and when you have bad results it is normal that people have doubts. The one thing we cannot do though is doubt our team or be pessimistic,” he told Barca TV.

Everyone defends the colours of their team and tries to do things as best they can, but it is always a joy to go back to Sevilla. That was my home for many years and I have a lot of respect for them.”

Barca boss Gerardo Martino is likely to once again be without Brazilian forward Neymar, although he has stepped up his recovery from an ankle injury.

Defenders Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano will also miss out as they are both suspended.

On TV? BT Sport 1

Ligue 1: Monaco v Paris Saint-Germain

Sunday, 8.30pm

image

Credit: David Davies/EMPICS Sport

New recruit Dimitar Berbatov says there is no better way to start his Monaco career than with the visit of Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain to a sold-out Stade Louis II on Sunday evening.

All eyes will turn to the principality as second-placed Monaco, without the sidelined Radamel Falcao, attempt to give the French title race fresh impetus in front of a rare full house.

Claudio’s Ranieri’s men are five points adrift of PSG, and with Colombian star Falcao ruled out for the season with a knee injury, Monaco turned to former Manchester United striker Berbatov in the January transfer window to help fill the void.

Berbatov arrived on loan from Premier League strugglers Fulham, with the Bulgarian saying a recommendation from ex-teammate, and former Monaco defender, Patrice Evra convinced him to swap England for the Cote d’Azur.

Looking ahead to his first match in Monaco colours, Berbatov said: “It’s the best possible way (to start).

“You play against one of the biggest clubs in football, one of the best players in football (Zlatan Ibrahimovic), so what else can a player want?

“It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for me.”

On TV? BT Sport 1

- © AFP, 2014

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