European club action returns to 2BET2 this weekend

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Updated: September 14, 2012

Europe’s top players return for club duty this weekend following their exploits for country and World Cup qualification.

Some of the top clubs begin a rather important period over the next 3 weeks, as the Champions League group stages begins midweek during a period that will test the depth of some of the big clubs across Europe.

In Italy, ambitious Serie A champions Juventus will be looking to maintain their 100 percent start to the season in an away match at Genoa which is the first of an impressive run of seven in 23 days. Antonio Conte’s side is aiming for four trophies this season and will have one eye on the Champions League, a trophy they haven’t been able to get their hands on in recent times.

Juventus’s trip to Genoa will be short, but next week they travel to Chelsea and then face Cheivo, Fiorentina and Roma before hosting Shakhtar in Europe and then league minnows Siena in early October.

It is no wonder the club’s director general, Beppe Moratto, is intent on bolstering a squad some observers feel has a real chance in Europe this season, with Spanish international Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao remains Juve’s main target.

Juventus are one of only four teams – along with Napoli, Lazio and Sampdoria – to have won their first two games of the season.

It means the other title favourites, AC Milan and Inter, need three points this weekend if they are to keep the pressure on the Turin giants.

San Siro rivals Inter make the short trip to Torino looking to make up for their stunning home defeat to a Francecso Totti-inspired Roma two weeks ago.

Antonio Cassano, who scored Inter’s goal in the 3-1 reverse to Roma, is expected to play in support of Argentinian striker Diego Milito with Dutchman Wesley Sneijder providing the service to the attacking duo.

Roma, who sit fifth, host Bologna at the Olympic Stadium looking to replicate the performance which humbled Inter two weeks ago.

Napoli and Lazio will be expected to maintain their perfect start with games respectively against Parma and Chievo.

Milan are already missing Robinho, Alexandre Pato, Riccardo Montolivo and Ignazio Abate but the good news is that midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng is set to play with a newly-fitted arm brace following surgery on a fractured hand bone last week. They are in action at home this weekend against Atalanta who have yet to win this season.

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are facing tricky away games on Saturday in the La Liga.

Barca will go to Getafe without Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba. Iniesta’s absence will open the door for Cesc Fabregas. The former Arsenal captain has started the season in poor form, though he did set up the winner for Roberto Soldado in Georgia.

Another Barca man keen to impress is David Villa, who has hardly played since breaking his right leg nine months ago.

Barca are the only team to have won their first three games, having made their best start since 1997.

Later on Saturday, Real will be away to Sevilla, in what will be Cristiano Ronaldo’s first game for the champions since his bizarre “I am sad” explosion two weeks ago.

Real are ninth with just four points, Sevilla are seventh with five.

Malaga , who are joint second with surprise packages Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano – will receive Levante, whilst Valencia will be looking for their first win, in Mestalla against Celta Vigo.

Sunday’s big game will see Atletico Madrid at home to capital rivals Rayo, whilst bottom team Osasuna receive Mallorca, Espanyol face Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad take on Zaragoza.

On Monday Valladolid will be trying to continue their dream start, at home to inconsistent Betis.

In Germany, Bayern Munich host Mainz on Saturday looking for their third Bundesliga win of the season.

Bayern are set to start new signing Javier Martinez, who cost them a German league record €40 million from Athletic Bilbao a fortnight ago, alongside Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger.

In one of the biggest games of the weekend, Dortmund, who have won the German league title for the last two seasons, host Bayer Leverkusen.

While Bayern have won away at Greuther Fuerth and trounced Stuttgart in Munich in their opening games, Dortmund opened their bid for a third consecutive league crown with a narrow win over Bremen and a draw at Nuremberg.

Both Bayern and Dortmund have Champions League games looming with Munich hosting Valencia on Wednesday while Borussia are at home to Ajax on Tuesday.

Dark horses Eintracht, who won promotion last season, are second in the league after impressive wins over Leverkusen and Hoffenheim.

They host Hamburg in Frankfurt on Sunday with Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart set to make his debut having returned from Tottenham Hotspur to the north German club, who have lost both of their opening games.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not taken long to settle into life in Ligue 1 after joining Paris St Germain from AC Milan.

Ibrahimovic has already scored four goals for PSG with doubles against Lille and Lorient, and PSG will be hoping his impressive form continues tonight against Toulouse, as they trail pacesetters and arch rivals Olympique Marseille, who have maximum points from four games, by six points.

Champions Montpellier, who have only picked up four points, travel to Stade Reims on Friday with a full squad.

Lille, the 2011 champions, are seven points off the pace and also face a promoted side on Saturday when they travel to Troyes, who have yet to win in the top flight this season.

Marseille visit Nancy on Sunday looking to maintain their perfect record.

In the Premiership, under pressure Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is targeting a first Premier League win since taking charge when the team travel to Sunderland on Saturday.

Liverpool have yet to win in the league since Rodgers took charge in pre-season, collecting just one point from their opening three games.

And with a match against bitter rivals Manchester United on September 23, three points at Sunderland are essential although they are by no means certain.

Sir Alex Ferguson was relieved to welcome a fit Robin van Persie back to Manchester ahead of Saturday’s clash against Wigan at Old Trafford.

The Dutch forward, who has started the season in impressive goal-scoring form for United, came off at halftime of Holland’s 4-1 victory over Turkey with a thigh injury. It was just a precautionary move and looks fit to start. This is good news for United as they are still missing Rooney up front due to injury.

Michael Owen looks set to start for his new club Stoke, as they face Champions Manchester City.

City are aiming to extend their unbeaten start to their Premier League title defence, though next Tuesday’s Champions League match against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu could prove a distraction.

Arsenal still getting use to life without Van Persie will be looking again to Podolski and Cazorla to provide the spark. Another new signing Olivier Giroud has failed to find the net since joining the Gunners and will need to step up to the plate this weekend at the Emirates as they host Southampton without midfielder Abou Diaby.

Chelsea captain John Terry could return from injury to play against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, the first time he and Anton Ferdinand will have faced each other since Terry was found not guilty in court of racially abusing the QPR defender during the corresponding fixture last season.