This weekend's league programmes begin a critical week for several of Europe's leading contenders for honours, not least for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who meet for a place in the Champions' League quarter-finals at the Bernabeu on Wednesday. At 1-1 from the first leg, that tie is finely balanced. In the meantime, the two sides must tackle domestic matters from rather different perspectives.
Madrid could stretch their lead in La Liga to 11 points this evening, at least temporarily, as the Spanish championship moves into a potentially decisive phase. Their match away to Real Santander will finish before rivals Deportivo la Coruña (third) and Valencia (second) clash at the Mestalla in a match both sides are desperate to win after slipping up last weekend.
Bayern Munich travel to Bayer Leverkusen this afternoon with a seven-point deficit to make up on the Bundesliga leaders, Werder Bremen, who go to 1860 Munich tomorrowhopeful of recording their 17th win of the season.
The Serie A leaders, Milan, five points clear of Roma with Juventus a further point adrift in third, host in-form Sampdoria tomorrow ahead of Roma's evening match with Internazionale at the Stadio Olimpico. Juve travel to Brescia.
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