World Leagues preview
© AFP previews the pick of the action outside Europe this weekend, including nail-baiting tension in Morocco, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, as well as intriguing early skirmishes in China PR and Brazil.

Argentinian Clausura: Can Lanus stay in front?
Leaders Lanus face a tricky assignment this weekend as they prepare for a derby at Banfield, rejuvenated since the arrival of coach Julio Falcioni. Meanwhile, surprise packages Huracan, under Angel Cappa's guidance, will be looking to build on last week's 4-0 defeat of River Plate and stay firmly in the title race with a win at relegation-threatened Rosario Central. Another key contest in the fight against the drop has San Martin taking on Gimnasia La Plata.

High stakes: Title hopefuls Velez Sarsfield are aiming to bounce back from their unexpected defeat against Gimnasia last time out, Velez's first reverse of the competition, when they host a Boca Juniors side still hurting from their midweek Copa Libertadores exit. Los Xeneizes need all three points to begin edging away from the lower reaches of the table and rule out a repeat of arch-enemies River's humiliating rock-bottom finish last campaign. Adding further spice is the fact that Boca's head coach Carlos Ischia and general manager Carlos Bianchi also formed an all-conquering managerial duo at Velez during the 1990s.
Player to watch: The Clausura's leading scorer with nine goals so far and a member of Diego Maradona's Albiceleste squad, Lanus forward Jose Sand would love to show fans of former club Banfield what they are missing this weekend.

Brasileirao: Big names chasing first win
Only two teams have a 100 per cent record so far, with Bahia outfit Vitoria handed the tough task of visiting Cruzeiro in their imposing Estadio Mineirao, and Porto Alegre powerhouses International away to Goias. Among the pre-season title contenders still looking for their first win, Gremio host Botafogo while Flamengo take on newly promoted Santo Andre, who have sprung a surprise by taking four points from their opening two matches.

High stakes: This matchday involves the first big derby of the Brasileirao 2009, with injury-ravaged Sao Paulo hosting Palmeiras. Champions for the last three years, O Tricolor Paulista can expect a rough ride from Palmeiras and exciting goal-getter Keirrison.
Player to watch: Coritiba's Marcelinho Paraiba is one of five players with two goals already this campaign, and on Tuesday he helped ensure his side reached the last four of the Copa do Brasil. After defeats in their opening two league games, can Marcelinho inspire A Coxa to a positive result away to Avai?

Chinese Super League: Pacesetters under pressure
Leaders and title holders Shandong Luneng, currently two points clear at the summit, can expect a tough encounter when they take on fourth-placed Dalian Haichang. Meanwhile, Beijing Guo'an and Tianjin Teda, second and third respectively, take on Qingdao Jonoon and 2007 champions Changchun Yatai, who are down in seventh.

High stakes: With the pair having taken 11 of the last 15 titles between them, Dalian (eight successes) visit Shandong (three) buoyed by 17 wins and five draws in the sides' last 30 meetings. Yet the home side will be favourites after winning two of the last three league titles, while Dalian barely avoided relegation last campaign after the retirement of a clutch of established stars. However, will Shandong's midweek exit from the AFC Champions League group stage undermine the leaders' morale?
Player to watch: Forward Han Peng is the man the Dalian defence will be most concerned about, given the 25-year-old Shandong hitman's aerial ability, powerful shot, quick feet and clever passing. Now back to full fitness after missing the second half of last season through a left-knee injury, he has been on target five times so far this term to move second in the scorers' chart.

Leaders Al Ahly are within touching distance of clinching the United Arab Emirates league title and representing the host nation at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009. Ahly are a point clear of second-placed Al Jazira, who visit eighth-placed Ajman on tomorrow's final matchday. Ahly take on fifth-placed Al Shabab.

On Sunday, Venezuela's Clausura 2009 champions Caracas FC take on Apertura 2008 winners Deportivo Italia in the capital's Estadio Olimpico for the right to claim the overall national crown.

Over in Mexico, the names of the finalists in the Clausura 2009 Liguilla (end-of-season title play-offs) will be decided this weekend. Pumas, 2-1 winners at Puebla in the sides' semi-final, first leg, and Pachuca, who won 2-0 away to Indios, are in the driving seat ahead of this weekend's second legs.

Turning to Morocco now and leaders Raja Casablanca could seal the title with a win over tenth-placed Marrakesh, given their five-point lead over closest pursuers El Jadida with three matchdays remaining.  Only three points will do for El Jadida, therefore, when they host KAC de Kenitra, while FAR Rabat and WAC Casablanca, both six points behind Raja in third and fourth, are up against bottom-half teams Safi and Khemisset respectively.

Aston Villa-Newcastle United, Bayern Munich-Stuttgart and Palmeiras-Sao Paulo are among the matches on the FIFA World Leagues Predictor's Round 36 menu. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up and take a shot at winning this weekend's prize.