Pitchside Europe

European Match of the Weekend

Pitchside Europe

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Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra will do battle again

The focus will be on Patrice Evra of Manchester United and Luis Suarez of Liverpool when the arch-rivals clash in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday.

It will be the pair's first meeting since Suarez racially abused Evra at Anfield in October, earning an eight-match suspension from which he returned to the Liverpool side as a substitute in Monday's 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur.

Tensions will be high at Old Trafford where a delicate situation was exacerbated when Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said after the Spurs game that Suarez should never have been banned, despite the Uruguayan admitting using the word "negro" in an on-field exchange with Evra during the 1-1 draw.

Saturday's match, featuring one of the fiercest rivalries in English football, is being shown live in more than 200 countries with an estimated global audience of about 900 million and while most of the attention will be on the match, the cameras will also closely follow the pre-match handshake.

The FA has said the handshake will go ahead at Old Trafford and Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, said: "It is an opportunity for football to show it can deal with these issues, and everyone can learn and move on."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on Tuesday that football needed to take a hardline stance against racism which has begun to rear its head in the English game again after seemingly lying dormant for years.

Evra has not said if he will shake Suarez's hand, but whoever dominates on the pitch could hold the key to a victory that will either lift United above leaders Manchester City at the top of the table - at least until Sunday - or take Liverpool closer to the top four.

Liverpool beat United in the FA Cup fourth round on 10 days ago when Suarez was banned, but will find United in a defiant mood after they came back from a 3-0 deficit at Chelsea on Sunday to draw 3-3.


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United v Liverpool: The tale of the tape

Suarez has scored only five times in 19 league appearances so far this season but, as our stats demonstrate, he has been very unlucky.

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Woodwork stats


Live minute-by-minute text commentaries this weekend:

Saturday February 11

Udinese v AC Milan 17:00

Osasuna v Barcelona 19:00

Cagliari v Palermo 19:45

Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao 21:00

Sunday February 12

Inter v Novara 14:00

Valencia v Sporting Gijon 17:00

Bologna v Juventus 19:45

Real Madrid v Levante 20:30

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