The final straight is approaching fast in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Korea Republic, adding to the tension ahead of this weekend’s games. The title races have only just begun in Egypt, Ghana and Australia, however, with the early contenders still jostling for position. FIFA.com looks ahead to the upcoming action in the major leagues outside Europe.
Argentinian Apertura: Third host first
Estudiantes’s trip to San Lorenzo, two places below them in third, is the pick of the matches, although Velez Sarsfield’s visit to Newell’s Old Boys, a contest that pits second against seventh, looks no less enticing. Elsewhere, Banfield play host to River Plate, who have gone two games without a win and still have the threat of relegation hanging over them.
High stakes: Midweek victors over old foes Gimnasia, high-flying Estudiantes have the chance to maintain their recent momentum away to Ramon Diaz’s San Lorenzo, a game Juan Veron may miss with an ankle injury. After losing their unbeaten record on their last outing, El Ciclón have an immediate opportunity to close the gap again.
Player to watch: Boca Juniors idol Juan Roman Riquelme has been given the all-clear after his recent injury woes and could take a seat on the bench against Lanus. The classy playmaker has not tasted competitive football since May.
Brasileirao: Top two expect victory
Having put some daylight between themselves and the rest of the field, Fluminense will be out to cement their three-point lead when they visit bottom-placed Gremio Prudente. Chasing hard in second are Corinthians, who can keep the pressure on if they beat the inconsistent Ceara at home. Currently lying fourth, Internacional are still not out of it but need to pick their form up against Guarani, while Santos and Palmeiras face off in a Paulista derby.
High stakes: Still in touch with the leaders in third place, Cruzeiro need to beat Atletico Paranaense, two places below them, to stay right in the hunt. The men from Curitiba will have other ideas as they continue their quest for a Copa Libertadores slot.
Player to watch: Corinthians’s young attacking midfielder Bruno Cesar is the division's second-highest scorer with ten goals, four more than he managed with Santo Andre last term. Can the 21-year-old add to his haul against Ceara?
Mexican Apertura: Derby objective for Cruz Azul
Aside from Mexico City’s Clásico Joven, there are a couple of other big games to look forward to on Matchday 10 in Mexico. Group 1 frontrunners Monterrey are second in the regular-season standings, a position they aim to consolidate against Necaxa, who could yet force their way into the eight-team play-offs. Defending champions Toluca are out front in Group 2 and make the trip to Santos Laguna, who stand third overall.
High stakes: No side has a better record this season than Cruz Azul, which ought to fill them with confidence going into Sunday’s Clásico Joven against America, a fixture they have not won in seven years. Has the time come for the in-form Cementeros to finally break their 16-game winless streak against Las Águilas?
Player to watch: With six goals in his last three games, Carlos Ochoa has given Jaguares real hope of making the play-offs. The 32-year-old forward will will keen to extend his purple patch against Estudiantes Tecos.
Egyptian League: Zamalek eyeing a surge
Following a slow start, Zamalek have moved up to third after stringing together two wins. The 11-time champions will be eyeing a third against newly-promoted Misr Elmaqasah, comfortably positioned in mid-table. A point off the pace in second and fifth are Al Masry and Petrojet respectively. Separated by goal difference only, the two meet on Saturday afternoon. Also on 11 points are Al Ahly, who are in CAF Champions League action on Sunday.
High stakes: Surprise leaders Police Union put their unlikely challenge to the test when they entertain Ismaily, two points behind in sixth and with a game in hand.
Player to watch: Ismaily’s Ahmed Samir Farag tops the scoring charts with four goals - not bad for a defender.
Korean K-League leaders Jeju United can take a significant step towards securing first place in the regular season by beating visiting Gyeongnam, who are third with a game in hand. One side hoping for an away win in that game are FC Seoul, who have also played a game less and can keep their championship challenge ticking along with victory at home to Incheon United.
The Ghanaian Premier League season is still in its infancy, with early pacesetters Kessben facing a seemingly straightforward assignment at home to a Mighty Jets side that have yet to win. Asante Kotoko are a point behind in second but can expect a stern test when they receive a visit from sixth-placed Heart of Lions, who are just two points further back.
Unbeaten Adelaide United are in a comfortable position at the top of the Australian A-League and have an excellent opportunity to extend their run at bottom club Sydney FC, who have yet to win. Six points adrift in second place, Brisbane Roar have a testing engagement at Perth Glory, while Central Coast Mariners, in third, will fancy their chances against North Queensland Fury.