Among other attractions, this weekend sees the culmination of the league championship in Australia and some mouth-watering fixtures in the early rounds of play across the Americas. FIFA.com invites you on a spin around the globe to check in on some of the world's most compelling leagues championships.
Argentinian Clausura: A classic with extra spice
San Lorenzo's showdowns with River Plate always make riveting viewing, but their meeting this weekend on matchday three of the Clausura will have even more piquancy thanks to the presence of three former Millonario stars among the ranks of the visitors. The men in question are coach Ramon Diaz, a former River player and manager who was at the helm when Los Millonarios won their last continental honours, the 1996 Copa Libertadores and 1997 Supercopa Sudamericana and players Diego Placente and Andres D'Alessandro.
All three can expect a fiery reception at the Estadio
Monumental, where passions always run high. Having lost their
opening two games of the season at home, San Lorenzo can ill afford
another slip-up if they are to stave off talk of a crisis. River,
for their part, have less pressure on their shoulders with four
points already in the bag from their corresponding pair of
Elsewhere, Boca travel to surprise joint leaders San Martin, where the arrival in town of Riquelme and Co has fans licking their lips. Meanwhile, Estudiantes and Velez Sarsfield, the other two other clubs with maximum points thus far, take on Newell's Old Boys and Banfield respectively.
The big game: River Plate-San Lorenzo, Sunday 24
February. Kick-off 17:10 (local time)
The words: "I hold Ramon Diaz in high esteem, but I won't be shaking hands with him on Sunday. I don't make a habit of greeting rival coaches, and this occasion will be no different." River captain Ariel Ortega, who played alongside and under Ramon Diaz.
A-League: The Grand Final
Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets go head-to-head this Sunday in Sydney in the Grand Final of the Australian league. The Mariners may have to do without their experienced midfielder Tom Pondeljak, who is battling to recover from a bout of tendonitis - not a prospect coach Lawrie McKinna is relishing. "He's been a hugely important part of the team's attack, but if he's not fit to play, then we'll have to go with Greg Owens or Andre Gumprecht," he said. Meanwhile, Jets coach Gary van Egmond, looks set to stick with the side that defeated Queensland Roar for a place in the final, although 20-year-old Korean Song Jin-Hyung could find himself back in the starting XI.
The big game: Central Coast Mariners FC-Newcastle Jets, Sunday 24 February. Kick-off 17:00 (local time).
The words: "The Mariners have experience on their side in the form of (John) Aloisi, (Sasho) Petrovski, Pondeljak, (Tony) Vidmar, (Andre) Gumprecht and (Alvin) Ceccoli. We, on the other hand, will be banking on the impudence of youth. What's more, the fact that we don't fear anyone could work in our favour, plus the lads are able to perform under pressure." Gary van Egmond.
Brazilian State Championships: A final and a derby
Sunday's final of the Taca Guanabara between Botafogo and Flamengo is this weekend's standout game in Brazil. In an effort to motivate their players for the game against their city rivals, the Alvinegro management have opted for the curious measure of raffling computers among the squad.
Vying for attention with that must-see game at the Maracana is an enthralling derby in the Baiano State Championship between Bahia (1st) and Vitoria (3rd), the league's meanest defence and most potent attack respectively. Second-place side Vitoria da Conquista will be hoping their title rivals can take points off each other in the derby, enabling them to close the two-point gap to the leaders when they travel to bottom-side Pocoes on the same day.
The big game: Botafogo-Flamengo, Sunday 24 February. Kick-off 16:00 (local time).
The words: "We have to put our heart and soul into this match. It's the game of my life as I've never been champion. That's why I'm going to fight till the death. Our team have been quietly progressing behind the scenes, leaving the headlines to Fla and Flu. We're happy to continue that way and go on and win the title." Botafogo player Wellington Paulista.
Mexican Clausura: Romano seeks confidence-booster
Club America's new coach, Ruben Omar Romano, makes his league debut this weekend after an anguished win during his first game in charge in midweek, a Copa Libertadores tie against Chile's Universidad Catolica. Romano's side can expect a tough examination against current Group 2 leaders Santos Laguna, the team that topped the final standings in last year's Apertura.
Elsewhere, Veracruz take on Group 1 leaders Toluca in their
matchday 7 fixture on Friday, while on Saturday, San Luis, second
in Group 3, will be hoping to cut Guadalajara's five-point lead
at the top when they take on the Chivas.
The big game: America-Santos, Sunday 24 February, Estadio Azteca. Kick-off 16:00 (local time).
The words: "I expect it to be very difficult as they come into the tie with the motivation a new coach brings and momentum from their Libertadores win. They cannot afford to drop points, even less so at the Azteca. We know that playing there will be very tough for us, but I'm confident we can do it." Santos right-back, Ivan Estrada.
This week sees the Egyptian league welcome back many of players who helped the country to victory at the recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. With the tournament having reached the halfway point, Al Ahly have a ten-point lead over Petrojet, who recently took second place from Al Gaish. With a fourth consecutive title well within their grasp, the leaders take on Ghazl Al Mehalla (7th) this Sunday, with Petrojet facing an away-day assignment at Itesalat Cairo. Zamalek, who continue to struggle 15 points adrift of the leaders, know that only a win will do against lowly Baladeyet Al Mahalla if they hope to improve on fifth position.
Our final port of call this week is South Africa, where Premiership leaders Ajax Cape Town will be looking to protect their four-point cushion at second-bottom Jomo Cosmos. Matchday 19 sees tougher away fixtures for Ajax's immediate pursuers, SuperSport United (2nd), who face a Kaizer Chiefs (8th) side fresh from an away win over Bidvest Wits (5th) in their previous game. Elsewhere, Orlando Pirates (3rd) travel to Cape Town to take on Santos, while Free State Stars (4th) will be hoping to capitalise on any slip-ups by the leaders when they travel to last-placed Black Leopards.