Suspense in store
© AFP

While the summit meeting between Real Madrid and Barcelona takes centre stage in Spain, Manchester United and Inter Milan are aiming to go one step further in their respective bids to become English and Italian champions again. In France and Germany, meanwhile, a number of contenders are still vying for championship glory.

FIFA.com sets the scene ahead of a potentially decisive, not to say nailbiting, weekend in Europe's blue riband leagues.

Premier League: No rest for United
Manchester United have engineered some unlikely comebacks in recent weeks but will be hoping for an altogether less frenetic afternoon on Saturday, when they travel to relegation-threatened Middlesbrough. Following last Wednesday's first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final against Arsenal, the league leaders are sure to make changes as they seek to extend the three-point lead separating them from Liverpool, who take on struggling Newcastle United 24 hours later. The Reds have not given up on the title just yet and after a welcome week's rest they will be boosted by the return from injury of their inspirational captain, Steven Gerrard.

The question: Can Arsenal extend their unbeaten run to 20 games when they make the journey to Portsmouth this weekend?
The big game: Liverpool-Newcastle United, Sunday 3 May, 14.30 CET, Anfield
The quote: "I've got a large squad and I have every confidence in the players in it. You'll see that this weekend," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

La Liga: D-day in Madrid
Real Madrid's staggering run of 17 wins and a draw has had Barcelona nervously looking over their shoulder lately. Los Merengues last suffered defeat on 13 December, when they went down 2-0 to the Catalans, and should they avenge that reverse at the Bernabeu on Saturday, they will close to within a point of the leaders with four games remaining. Pep Guardiola's free-scoring Barça are the most potent attacking unit on the continent, however, and will be out to secure at least a point from their trip to the Blanco fortress.

The question: Espanyol have not conceded a goal in their last four outings. Can the Barcelona side keep another clean sheet against Valencia and ease a little further away from the relegation zone?
The big game: Real Madrid-Barcelona, Saturday 2 May, 20.00 CET, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
The quote: "Barça have been playing really well this season but if Real win on Saturday, they might take control of the league," former Madrid star Zinedine Zidane.

Serie A: Inter on the verge
Although Milan's late charge has seen them surge into second place, Jose Mourinho's Inter side remain seven points clear and within touching distance of their fourth consecutive scudetto. Victory at home to mid-table Lazio on Saturday evening will represent another decisive step towards that objective. Third-placed Juventus, meanwhile, have not won in five, a dismal run they will be keen to end at home to a Lecce side fighting against relegation.

The question: Having gone seven games without defeat, the last four of them victories, can Milan maintain their momentum at Catania?
The big game: Inter Milan-Lazio, Saturday 2 May, 20.30 CET, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza
The quote: "Obviously we're not happy with how we've performed for the last month. That's something we can't deny," Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Bundesliga: Heynckes makes his bow
Bayern Munich will bring the curtain down on an eventful week when they entertain Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday with new coach Jupp Heynckes installed on the bench. Currently in third, the Bavarians need a win to keep the pressure on leaders Wolfsburg, who are at home to fast-fading Hoffenheim. Fourth-placed Stuttgart are only three points from the top themselves and will be confident of success at lowly Arminia Bielefeld, while fellow title contenders Hamburg and Hertha Berlin face off in an enticing encounter.

The question: Will Wolfsburg notch up their 13th straight home win against Hoffenheim, who have gone winless in their last 11 games?
The big game: Hamburg-Hertha Berlin, Sunday 3 May, 17.00 CET, HSH Nordbank Arena
The quote: "It's going to be difficult for me to stay in Munich if we're not in the Champions League next year," Bayern Munich's French midfielder Franck Ribery.

Ligue 1: The chase is on
Bordeaux's last-minute 3-2 defeat of Rennes in the week took them back within two points of table-toppers Olympique Marseille with five games left to play in France. Laurent Blanc's men play host to Sochaux on Sunday, with Les Phocéens in action at home to Toulouse the day before. Marseille's title chances will now depend to a large extent on how they react to the news that coach Eric Gerets will be leaving the Velodrome at the end of the season.

The question: Caen have failed to win at home in their last eight attempts. Can the northerners buck the trend against Le Mans and boost their survival chances?
The big game: Marseille-Toulouse, Saturday 2 May, 21.00 CET, Stade Velodrome
The quote: "This isn't just a duel between Bordeaux and Marseille. Lyon have a lot of experience and the gap's not so large that they can't get back into it," Bordeaux playmaker Yoann Gourcuff.

Elsewhere
Trailing Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic by a single point, Rangers will have their work cut out at home to Hearts on Sunday. The Bhoys, meanwhile, travel to Aberdeen for Saturday's early kick-off. Surprise frontrunners Krylia Sovetov are at home to CSKA Moscow on Matchday 7 in Russia, hoping to extend their three-point advantage over their visitors. Second plays fifth in the game of the day in Turkey as title-chasing Besiktas lock horns with Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce.