FIFA.com rounds up the pick of the weekend’s action outside Europe, with Brazil immersed in state championship finals, the line-up for the Mexican Liguilla now complete and the title races hotting up in Argentina and Morocco.
Brazilian state championships: Favourites made to sweat
Facing a regional rival in a state championship final is never easy, with even more uncertainty thrown in when a lesser-known quantity is involved. Santos and Atletico Mineiro would certainly agree, having both been pushed to the limits by surprise packages in their first-leg encounters in the finals of the Paulista and Mineiro competitions respectively. O Peixe recorded a 3-2 comeback win over Santo Andre, thanks to a double from Wesley, while O Galo sank Ipatinga by the same scoreline having also gone behind, with Muriqui grabbing a vital brace.
Big game: In-form Gremio beat arch-rivals Internacional 2-0 in front of a packed house in the latter's Estadio Beira-Rio.
Headline-grabbers: The country’s record state championship winners ABC won the Potiguar crown for the 51st time in the club’s history after overcoming final opponents Corinthians-RN.
Argentinian Clausura: El Pincha extend streak
A 1-0 win over struggling River Plate, thanks to a Facundo Quiroga strike, took Estudiantes clear at the top with 33 points. A fourth domestic win in a row underlines the strength in depth of a Pincharratas squad also fully committed to defending their Copa Libertadores title. Independiente dropped to fourth following a goalless draw with Huracan.
Big game: Followers of Racing Club will be breathing a lot easier after their side’s hard-fought 2-0 win over Banfield, a result which moves the Avellaneda outfit out of the relegation zone.
Headline-grabbers: Lying just one point behind Estudiantes are surprise contenders Argentinos Juniors. Coached by former Argentina international Claudio Borghi, they beat Gimnasia La Plata 3-1 to keep up the pressure on the leaders.
Mexican Bicentenario: Play-off line-up confirmed
The final round of regular-season matches confirmed the full eight-team line-up for the title-deciding Liguilla. Monterrey qualified as the team with the best overall record and are joined by Guadalajara, Toluca, Pumas, Santos, America, Morelia and Pachuca.
Big game: America did what they had to do by beating Santos 1-0 in the Estadio Azteca, via an Angel Reyna strike, though they needed other results to go their way on the final matchday of regular-season action in order to claim an unlikely sixth place overall.
Headline-grabbers: Despite an impressive recent surge, a 1-1 draw with Guadalajara meant Cruz Azul just missed out on a Liguilla berth. The club must now focus on defending their 2-1 lead in the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League final against Pachuca.
Japanese J.League: Close contest
After eight matchdays, no team has yet been able to pull clear at the top of the table. Though they remain unbeaten, leaders Shimizu S-Pulse are just two points ahead of a trio of chasers featuring Nagoya Grampus, Urawa Red Diamonds and Kawasaki Frontale.
Big game: Kashima Antlers, champions for the last three seasons, will be delighted with their 3-1 away win over Yokohama F Marinos, a match attended by this weekend’s J.League highest attendance of 43,000 spectators.
Headline-grabbers: Kashima’s Brazilian striker Marquinhos struck his 52nd goal in club colours to move clear as the holders’ all-time top scorer.
With just three rounds of matches remaining in the Moroccan National Botola, there are just two points separating Raja Casablanca (49) and city rivals WAC (47), with DH El Jadida two points further back in third. The 27th matchday saw Raja extend their lead at the top by a point after they drew 1-1 with IZ Khemisset and WAC were beaten 1-0 by MA Tetouan.
In the American Major League Soccer, Los Angeles Galaxy could not maintain their flawless start to the season after being held to a goalless draw by Kansas City Wizards, though Landon Donovan and Co remain top of the Western Conference with 13 points so far. Over in the East, New York Red Bulls are in first place with 12 points following their 2-1 defeat of Philadelphia Union.
Finally to a clásico in the Chilean Primera Division, where Colo-Colo held on to beat rivals Universidad de Chile 1-0. The win enabled El Cacique to replace La U at the top of the table, though the latter are just a point behind with a game in hand. It was an eventful evening for Colo-Colo's fiery forward Ezequiel Miralles, who, having put his side ahead early on after a fine counter-attacking move, went on to receive his marching orders just before the interval.