MIDWEEK PREVIEW: International Soccer Headliners

PLAYER/JAVIER SAVIOLA
A key player for Spanish First Division leader Real Madrid, which hosts Real Betis on Thursday, is former Barcelona striker Javier Saviola, who has already scored two goals this season, including the equalizer at Real Valladolid on Sunday

The Argentine is happy with his start with the Merengues -- even if he is not assured of playing full-time

"Everyone talks about Madrid not playing as a team," he told Madrid sports daily AS, "but we have had to in the last two games against Valladolid and Almeria, both which made it very difficult for us. I know I cannot demand a start in this team. Nobody has a guaranteed position. [Coach Bernd] Schuster has already told us we all will play many games this season, not because it's his policy, but because we have a very heavy schedule."

TV
GOL TV, BAYERN MUNICH-ENERGIE COTTBUS, Thursday (live), 4 pm ET

RACE/SERIE A
Serie A leader Roma will be without star Francesco Totti when it travels to Fiorentina, one of three teams tied for second place, on Wednesday.

Coach Luciano Spalletti is resting Totti so he will be available for Saturday's match with Inter Milan and next week's key Champions League match at Manchester United.

Spalletti is confident Roma will do well without Totti. "A great team cannot depend on one single player," he said.

TV
FOX SOCCER CHANNEL, FIORENTINA-ROMA, Wednesday (live), 2:30 pm ET

COACH/HEIKO WEBER
Heiko Weber's baptism of fire as interim coach of Energie Cottbus is a match at first-place Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Weber was named to replace Petrik Sander until a permanent replacement is found. Cottbus, which features American Heath Pearce at left back, initially appointed Sander's assistant, Thomas Hossmang, as interim coach, but he stepped down because of his close relationship with Sander, the first Bundesliga coach to be fired this season.

TV
GOL TV, BAYERN MUNICH-ENERGIE COTTBUS, Wednesday (live), 1:55 pm ET

MATCH/LENS-LILLE
Lens and Lille meet Wednesday in derby of northern rivals in the third round of French Cup. Both clubs are desperate for a win after getting off to slow starts in Ligue 1.

Veteran coach Guy Roux lasted just four games as Lens coach before quitting and being replaced by former European Player of the Year Jean-Pierre Papin. Lens is 18th in the 20-team Ligue 1 with two games in hand.

Lille is 14th in the standings -- a huge disappointment for a club that reached the knockout phase of last year's UEFA Champions League.


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