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

Grab the phrasebooks, it’s your weekly European footie fix.

Stuttgart's Martin Harnik celebrates scoring against Steaua Bucharest.
Stuttgart's Martin Harnik celebrates scoring against Steaua Bucharest.
Image: Vadim Ghirda/AP/Press Association Images

Bundesliga: Stuttgart v Schalke 04

Saturday 2.30pm

Huub Stevens’ Schalke team head to Stuttgart having gone winless in their last four Bundesliga matches and today’s opponent could join them in fourth place on 25 points with a home win.

04 are looking for anything to latch onto as a good omen.

“That will give us some momentum,” said Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes after their midweek draw with Montpelier.

Stuttgart have not set the world alight themselves in recent weeks with three wins, two defeats and a draw with Borussia Dortmund int heir last six league games and a home defeat to Molde rounding off their Europa League group this week.

Still, with the strikers on offer from Schalke and the hosts driven on by the sight of the fourth place in the league it could be a tonic to ease the troubles of the winner in the lead up to the winter break.

On TV? Unfortunately not.

Serie A: Internazionale v Napoli

Sunday 7.45pm

It’s second against third in Italy with the home side hoping to overtake their second-placed southern rivals.

Both teams have emerged as Juventus’ strongest title opposition with Napoli only two points behind the Bianconeri, and Inter a further two points adrift.

“Are Inter Juve’s main rivals? Why not? Maybe that’s what we can become – I hope so,” Inter president Massimo Moratti said recently.

Napoli have already shown their limits playing away against big name rivals, a humbling 2-0 defeat in Turin in late October.

However the Partenopei should have reason to believe they can return from Milan with at least a point. Cagliari dug deep to grab a share of the points three weeks ago and Palermo came close last week until a late own goal by defender Santiago Garcia handed Inter all three points.

There is also some inner turbulence at Inter as the club digs it heels in over Wesley Sneijder.

On TV? Yes, ESPN have you covered.

La Liga: Real Betis v Barcelona

Sunday 8.0pm

Lionel Messi could yet be available for Barcelona at Real Betis on Sunday, despite being stretchered off the field against Benfica in the Champions League.

But should he miss out then the league leaders will have their work cut out trying to get the better of fourth-placed Betis who, a fortnight ago,  beat Real Madrid 1-0 at the venue – a necessary rally after being drubbed 5-1 by city rivals Sevilla a week before.

“The team will be the same, with or without me,” said Messi, perhaps the only man who believes he doesn’t make the Blaugrana 100 percent better.

“There are more than enough players to do the job.”

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File photo of Betis fans in full voice. MANUEL GOMEZ/CORDON/Press Association Images.

Messi needs to hit just one more goal to equal Gerd Mueller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year in 1972.

However with two further league games and a cup match to go before the end of the year it would not be a shock to see him rested at Betis as a precaution.

Barca have both Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba available again and only Alexis Sanchez and Dani Alves are long term casualties.

Betis midfielder Ruben Perez was full of praise for Sunday’s opponents.

“They are the best team in the world, they keep the ball all the game and it’s difficult but we’ll go out looking for points and try to win,” he said.

On his own side’s start, that sees Betis fourth on 25 points, he continued:

“The atmosphere is great and we’ve got some good points so far, we’re up there and we have to keep working hard because in football a bad run can come at any time”.

On TV? It’s Barcelona. Sky Sports 1.

LIgue 1: St. Etienne v Lyon

Sunday 8.0pm

Leaders Lyon put their two point advantage on the line at arch-rivals Saint Etienne on Sunday in one of the oldest derbies in France.

The Geoffroy-Guichard stadium will be rocking as the ‘Green Devils’ faithful try to drive their team to a rare victory over their regional rivals.

Saint Etienne are placed third in the table, five points adrift of Lyon with Marseille in second, two points off the summit.

Lyon are showing glimpses of their glory days when they won seven straight titles between 2002 and 2008 and coach Remi Garde admits he is dreaming of returning the trophy to the Stade Gerland in only his second season in charge.

“I know how to play things down when I have to but the title gives everyone dreams and while I admit I am dreaming of winning the title, the word “dream” is the key word,” Garde admitted on Thursday.

“I hope my players feel the same but to dream of something is not being arrogant and saying we are going to achieve it easily.” he added.

While Saint Etienne come into the fixture on a four match winning streak at home, they have a horrendous record against Lyon and haven’t beaten them at home for 13 matches dating back to 1994.

A draw or defeat for Garde’s men will open the door for Marseille to regain top spot.

On TV? Doesn’t look like it, but you should have two games elsewhere to keep you busy.

Additional reporting – © AFP, 2012

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