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3. WORLD: Sevilla aims for first in Spain
December 14th, 2006 6:35PM
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With first-place Barcelona set to play Internacional of Brazil Sunday in the final of the Club World Cup in Yokohama (TV: Fox Soccer Channel & Fox en Espanol, 5 am ET), second-place Sevilla will have a chance to move into Spain's La Liga on Sunday when it travels to Andalucian rival Recreativo Huelva (TV: Gol TV, live 1 pm ET).

Sevilla moved into second place when it beat Real Madrid, 2-1, to give it seven wins in seven league games at home this season.

"There are no limits to our ambitions," Sevilla president Jose Mario del Nido told sports daily AS. "We have a team that is capable of beating Real Madrid without playing at its best and of beating a team like Valencia, 3-0."

Sevilla could without its top scorer when it faces Recreativo, however. Mali international Frederic Kanoute, with is tied with Barca's Ronaldinho and Real Zaragoza's Diego Milito for the league lead with 11 goals, is doubtful with a rib injury.

In Recreativo, Sevilla faces the Spanish season's big surprise. After winning the Second Division title in 2005-06, Recre has climbed to seventh place in La Liga with an attack-minded team led by young Frenchman Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Spaniard Javi Guerrero and Nigerian supersub Ikwechukwu Uche.

ENGLAND. Manchester United looks to hold on to its five-point lead at the top of the Premiership and maintain its unbeaten record on the road when it travels to Upton Park on Sunday to face West Ham United (TV: Fox Sports Channel, live, 11 am ET). The Red Devils have seven wins and one tie in eight away games this season. Their only EPL loss of the season came three months ago to Arsenal at Old Trafford. For West Ham, the game marks new manager Alan Curbishley's return to the Premier League. Seven months after quitting Charlton, Curbishley was this week given the task of reviving the struggling Hammers by their new owner, Icelandic millionaire Eggert Magnusson. In other EPL action, second-place Chelsea and third-place Arsenal both face tough matches after winning makeup games on Wednesday. Chelsea travels to Everton on Sunday (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 8:40 am ET), while Arsenal hosts Portsmouth on Saturday (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 9:45 am). Pompey is led by former Gunner star Nwankwo Kanu, who shares the EPL scoring lead with nine goals.

GERMANY. The Bundesliga shuts down for its winter break after this weekend, and first-place Werder Bremen looks to claim the honor of first-half champions when it faces Wolfsburg on Sunday (Tentative TV: Telemundo, delay, 1 pm ET). It's a battle of Germany's best offense -- Bremen has scored 45 goals in 16 games -- against its best defense -- Wolfsburg has conceded only 14 goals. Bremen leads Schalke 04, which plays at sixth-place Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday, on goal difference. Two points behind is Stuttgart, which has a shot at regaining first place when plays at Energie Cottbus on Saturday (TV: Gol TV, live, 9:30 am ET).

ITALY. Roma and Palermo, the main challengers to first-place Inter Milan, square off Sunday in a must-win game for both teams (TV: RAI International, live, 2:30 pm ET; Gol TV, delay, 7:30 pm ET). Second-place Roma fell seven points behind Inter after losing to archrival Lazio, 3-0. Roma coach Luciano Spalletti remained confident even after his team's six-game winning streak was snapped. "A strong team shows its true colors in the most difficult times," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We're still in the title race. We just need to believe in ourselves." Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini, on the other hand, views the game as battle for second place. "I think they will win the title with a margin of between 15 and 18 points," he said of surging Inter, which takes an eight-game winning streak into its game against lowly Messina on Sunday (TV: Gol TV, live, 9 am ET).

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