While some of the world's leagues are approaching the finish line, there is still many a domestic race where the runners and riders are jostling for position on the back straight or just getting into their stride. One competition that looks as good as over is the Brazilian Championship, where runaway leaders Sao Paulo could be toasting success this weekend if results elsewhere go their way.
Up in USA, meanwhile, the eight MLS play-off contenders are about to get down to action after a regular season that threw up its fair share of surprises. FIFA.com is here to set the scene in North and South America, not to mention Mexico, Japan and Egypt.
Brazilian Championship: Sao Paulo ready to party
With just six games remaining and a handsome lead of 13 points, top dogs Sao Paulo could wrap their fifth league title up this weekend. Victory over Sport, coupled with defeat for second-placed Palmeiras, who travel to Vasco, and a draw for third-placed Cruzeiro, who entertain Atletico Paranaense, will see the champagne corks popping at the Morumbi again. Mindful that their league hopes are slim to say the least, the chasing duo have their eyes on more realistic goals: securing the two direct qualification berths for next year's Copa Libertadores.
The question: Valdir Espinosa has just been
installed as 12th-placed Vasco's new coach. Can he inspire a
defeat of Palmeiras that could elevate them as high as eighth?
Player to watch: Parana striker Josiel is the league's top scorer with 18 goals, but with his side facing almost certain relegation if they lose to Internacional, he needs to keep scoring.
American Major League Soccer:It's showtime
The regular season has come to an end and the eight surviving sides are now setting their sights on a slot in the final on 18 November. And with the grand final taking place at their Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, DC United are naturally anxious to go all the way. The Washington franchise ended the regular season with the best record of all the play-off contenders and now face MLS stalwarts Chicago Fire.
The remaining three clashes are New York Red Bulls-New England Revolution, FC Dallas-Houston Dynamo and Kansas City Wizards-Chivas USA.
The question: Three times the Revolution have
reached the final and three times they have lost. Could this be the
year they finally break the hoodoo?
Player to watch: DC United's Luciano Emilio, the league's leading scorer with 20 goals in 29 games, will be keen to continue his hot streak in the knockout phase.
Mexican Apertura: Big boys collide
Top of the bill on Matchday 14 of the 2007 Mexican Apertura is the clasico between America and Chivas Guadalajara. The Rebaño Sagrado may be travelling to the Estadio Azteca as Group 3 leaders, but the Águilas have taken the honours in the last three meetings between these deadliest of rivals.
Sunday also sees another top-draw clash, with Pumas UNAM playing host to Cruz Azul. Having won on their last three visits to the Estadio Olimpico, the visitors have every reason to be confident of success.
The question: Can Monterrey bring their run of
four matches without a home win to an end? Not if Toluca, the side
with the second best away record in the league, have anything to do
Player to watch: Argentinian midfielder Daniel Luduena, the driving force behind Santos Laguna's surge to the top of the SuperLiga standings.
Japanese J-League: Urawa poised to pounce
With five games to go in Japan, frontrunners Urawa Reds could land a knockout blow on their only pursuers Gamba Osaka. While the leaders, who lie six points clear, receive a visit from the inconsistent Nagoya Grampus Eight, their nearest challengers face a high-risk trip to fourth-placed Shimizu S-Pulse.
Keeping an eye on the top two will be Kashima Antlers, who will be confident of consolidating their third place when they take on struggling Oita Trinita at home.
The question: Yokohama FC have already been
relegated to the J-League 2. The question is, who will join them?
Player to watch: Vissel Kobe striker Yoshito Okubo is currently joint-fifth in the scoring charts with 14 goals. With Brazilian players occupying the remainder of the top six spots, the 25-year-old is the highest-ranked Japanese player.
Egyptian League: Cat and mouse games
Al Gaish have pulled clear of the pack after seven games and, with their closest rivals not in action this weekend, the unbeaten leaders have an excellent opportunity to extend their advantage when they entertain a misfiring Itesalat side.
Hoping for an Al Gaish slip-up are the two sides tucked in just behind them, Al Ahly and Petrojet. Their weekend meeting has been postponed due to the Cairo giants' involvement in Saturday's CAF Champions League final.
The question: Can Al Ittihad pick up their first
win of the competition and start moving away from the wrong end of
Player to watch: Ismaily forward Muhammed Fadl bagged a hat-trick in an electrifying 4-4 draw with Al Ittihad on 1 October and will be hungry for more this weekend.
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