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3. WORLD: Memories of '99 for United
March 30th, 2007 12:02AM



Manchester United hopes to hang on to its six-point lead at the top of the Premier League when it hosts Blackburn on Saturday (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 10 am ET). Second-place Chelsea visits last-place Wigan (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, live, noon ET).

United has a shot at repeating its 1999 treble. It's through to the semifinals of the FA Cup, where it faces Wigan, and it's qualified for the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.

"All the incentives are there," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson told the Manchester Evening News. "The run-in to the league campaign, the FA Cup and Europe offers fantastic incentives to all the players, the club and the fans. It is an exciting time here."

(Chelsea has a shot of winning four trophies. It's already won the English League Cup title, and it's still in contention in the EPL, FA Cup and Champions League.)

The weekend's big match takes place at Anfield, where fourth-place Liverpool hosts third-place Arsenal on Saturday (Setanta Sports USA, live, 7:40 am ET). The game comes less than three months after Arsenal beat Liverpool, 3-1, at Anfield in the FA Cup and 6-3 in the League Cup in the space of three days.

Unlike Manchester United and Chelsea, Barcelona no longer has to think about Europe, having been knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool, and Sevilla coach Juande Ramos says that will be to its advantage in the race for Spain's La Liga title.

"The remaining calendar is advantageous to Barca because the chasing teams all have to play each other," Ramos said. "Also, they are not in Europe like Valencia and us. Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi have just recovered from long-term injuries, are fresh, and could be key in the next couple of months."

Barcelona and Sevilla are tied for first place in La Liga going into weekend action. Barcelona hosts Deportivo Coruna on Saturday (TV: GolTV, Sunday, 5 pm ET), while Sevilla plays at Osasuna on Sunday (GolTV, live, 3 pm ET),.

GERMANY. If Bayern Munich has any hope of defending its Bundesliga title, it will have to win at home against leader Schalke 04 on Saturday (GolTV, live, 9:30 am ET). Bayern is nine points behind leader Schalke after throwing away five points in their last two games -- a 1-1 tie at home to Werder Bremen and a 1-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt.

ITALY. AC Milan's ambitions of returning to next season's Champions League will be tested when it plays at Roma on Saturday (TV: GolTV, delay, 4 pm ET). The six-time European champions are fifth in Serie A, four points behind fourth-place Palermo. The top four Serie A teams qualify for the Champions League -- the top two to the group stage and the next two to the qualifying stage. After beginning with an eight-point penalty, Milan has gained momentum in the last two months, winning six of its last eight games.

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