In football, as in life, one person's joy can often mean another's despair. A case in point is this weekend's final matchday in the Argentinian Clausura. While the race for the title has already been settled, the remaining places on the podium, one demotion spot and the two promotion/relegation play-off berths are still to be decided. In Colombia, meanwhile, the name of the first finalist in its Apertura championship will be revealed.
Argentinian Clausura: Ups and downs
Although River Plate have already wrapped up the title and San Martin bade farewell to the Primera division, there are still three outstanding questions to be answered on this final matchday: who will claim runners-up spot; who will fill the second automatic relegation spot; and which two top-flight sides will be forced to contest the promotion/relegation play-offs?
The battle for the runners-up spot is a three-horse race between Boca Juniors, who have home advantage against Tigre, and two clubs who will also have a hand in deciding the relegation issues: Estudiantes, who travel to Bahia Blanca to face an Olimpo side in dire straits, and San Lorenzo, who will be in San Salvador to take on Gimnasia Jujuy. If Olimpo do manage to secure all three points, not only will they condemn Los Jujenos to the Nacional B division next season, but they could even force a play-off to avoid having to enter the play-off battle themselves.
The big game: Hogging the limelight this Sunday
will be the meeting of Colon and Racing Club in Santa Fe. With a
win or a draw the home side will avoid the dreaded play-offs, but
should they lose to
La Academia, the Santa Fe club would almost certainly have
to prepare for a survival battle.
Player to watch: Banfield striker Dario Cvitanich is on his way to Dutch giants Ajax and would dearly love to go out on a high by wrapping up the tournament's top-scorer award. The 24-year-old has 11 goals to his name already, two more than a group of five players hoping to overtake him.
Brasileiro: Consolidation the key
Flamengo, Cruzeiro and Gremio, the three sides who share the lead on 13 points after six games, face fixtures of varying difficulty this weekend. Fla, coming off a defeat to Sao Paulo, look to have the least complicated task with their visit to third-bottom Ipatinga, while Cruzeiro also start as favourites against mid-table side Figueirense.
The Tricolor Gaúcho, in contrast, welcome to Porto Alegre the ever-combative Atletico Paranaense who, with eight points, will relish the opportunity to close the gap on one of the leaders.
The big game: Every time the top sides from Rio de
Janeiro and Sao Paulo cross swords there is a special atmosphere,
and the visit of Palmeiras to Vasco da Gama will be no exception.
Paulistas can be expected to push Vasco all the way in the
knowledge that a win would leave them nicely placed in the upper
reaches of the table.
Player to watch: Guilherme, Cruizeiro's young prodigy looks unstoppable at present. With four strikes so far he is clearly his side's biggest goal threat, but can the 19-year-old striker continue his rich vein of form against Figueirense?
American MLS: Games worth waiting for
New England Revolution, who top the standings in the Eastern Conference, will have an another opportunity on Saturday to show why they are the league's top scorers when they travel to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake, currently fourth in a very tight Western Conference. However, they will be taking nothing for granted when they take on Jason Kreis' side, who themselves have gone four games undefeated.
The big game: While the fans continue to dream
about the possible signing of Ronaldinho, Western Conference
frontrunners Los Angeles Galaxy will be putting their leadership on
the line in a tough home fixture against Columbus Crew, presently
second in the Eastern section.
Player to watch: New England Revolution may well have to call on all of Matt Reis' goalkeeping skills again if they are to come away from Salt Lake City with a result. The 33-year-old has been an ever-present for his side this season and boasts the highest number of clean sheets in this year's tournament.
Colombian Apertura: America look to make sure
America de Cali look odds-on to reach the final of this year's Apertura in Colombia. In fact, the club could guarantee their final place this weekend if they win away to Independiente Santa Fe, and Envigado and La Equidad, their two Group A rivals, draw their match.
The big game: Taking top billing this weekend will
be the clash between Medellin and Boyaca Chico. The pair are tied
on five points each at the top of Group B, meaning a win for either
side would be a giant step towards taking the group's berth in
Player to watch: The Argentinian Miguel Caneo has emerged as one of Boyaca Chico's key players during the mini-league Apertura play-offs, where he has already netted twice in three games. The 24-year-old midfielder racked up 11 goals during the regular season and will be hoping he can continue in that vein and help his side contest the championship final.