Valencia focus on top spot as Real cry foul over Zidane's suspension
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The Independent Football

Real Madrid's perfect home record faces a stern test tomorrow when Valencia visit the Bernabeu. Madrid have won all 11 league games at home this season and lead the league by two points from Valencia, who would take over top spot with victory.

Madrid are likely to be without their playmaker Zinedine Zidane after he was sent off on Wednesday in controversial circumstances against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey. The club have launched an appeal in a desperate attempt to ensure the France international plays against Valencia. Madrid claim the referee did not see the foul in question, which seemed accidental and merited at most a yellow card. "We will surely appeal. We understand it was not worth a red card," Real's sports director, Jorge Valdano, said yesterday. "We will try and recover Zizou for Sunday's match."

Third-placed Deportivo La Coruña are six points behind Madrid and will attempt to keep pace tomorrow by beating Osasuna, who have not won in 21 visits to Deportivo.

Barcelona, unbeaten in five matches, take on Atletico Madrid with the Dutch winger Marc Overmars available again after injury. His compatriots, Patrick Kluivert and Philip Cocu, miss out, andthe captain, Luis Enrique, is suspended.

Italy's title-hunting trio face relegation-threatened clubs in Serie A this weekend with the leaders, Milan, looking to extend their seven-match winning streak. The European champions, who lead the league by five points, are away to Lecce, second-placed Roma are at the bottom club Ancona, and Juventus, who trail Milan by eight points, are at home to Reggina.

Roma dismissed any suggestions their title bid was fading with last week's 4-0 thrashing of Juventus, and the midfielder Olivier Dacourt, who scored his first goal in Serie A in that game, insists that Fabio Capello's side can catch Milan. "If we don't follow on from that win against Juventus then it will count for nothing, but that win has really boosted morale and we are convinced we can do something special now," he said.

In France, Monaco will attempt to extend their seven-point lead in Ligue 1 when they host Lille today. Lyon, the champions, travel to second-placed Auxerre tomorrow.

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