Early steps, final hurdles

Trophies will be lifted in Australia and Brazil this weekend, while a potential title decider is set to unfold in Tunisia. With the co-leaders facing the sides directly beneath them in Saudi Arabia and the races for gold gathering pace in Argentina, El Salvador, Mexico and Singapore, FIFA.com previews the forthcoming action from outside Europe.

Argentinian Clausura: Quartet compete for leadership
Newell's Old Boys, River Plate, Colon and Godoy Cruz are tied on seven points at the summit, and all four face stiff examinations in Round 4. Newell's will host Colon, while Godoy travel to Velez Sarsfield and River, with Radamel Falcao Garcia on his game, visit San Lorenzo.

Following two successive defeats, reigning Apertura champions Boca Juniors will hope the return of Claudio Morel Rodriguez and Juan Roman Riquelme can help them overcome a Huracan side seeking their third win of the campaign.

High stakes: All eyes will be on Ricardo Caruso when he makes his debut in the Racing Club dugout against Argentinos Juniors, the club he served as a player and coach. Racing are pointless from three outings, while their visitors have yet to win this term.
Players to watch: Velez forward Joaquin Larrivey will be keen to build on his debut winner against Tigre, while his Godoy counterpart Leandro Caruso will strive to continue his impressive form.

Brazilian State Championships: David versus Goliath
In what is their centenary year, Resende are one step away from an inconceivable zenith. Following a Bruno Meneghel-inspired victory over Flamengo in the semi-finals, they will bid to upset another Rio giant and win their first noteworthy title in the Taca Guanabara final on Sunday. Botafogo will, nevertheless, be heavy favourites to book a place in the overall Campeonato Carioca decider.

In the Paulistao, unbeaten frontrunners Palmeiras will host Guarani, with second-placed Corinthians travelling to Marilia.

High stakes: The final of the Taca Fernando Carvalho will pit Internacional against the winners of tonight's second semi-final between Gremio and Veranopolis, with the winners going into the overall Campeonato Gaucho decider.
Players to watch: Santos, in fifth, know the output of Colombian midfielder Mauricio Molina could be crucial to the outcome of their clássico with third-placed Sao Paulo, whose veteran striker Washington will strive to consolidate his side's position in the Paulistao's top four.

Mexican Clausura: Tight in 2
Just three points separate Group 2's six sides going into Round 8. Argentinian veteran Claudio Graf will aim to protect Tecos's one-point lead against Monarcas, two points behind their hosts, while tailenders Pumas will look to move into contention by beating Group 3 strugglers Tigres, who will have Jose Pekerman at their reins for the first time.

Guadalajara, one of three teams a point shy of Tecos, will try and end Group 1 pacesetters Pachuca's unbeaten record. Cruz Azul and America, both level with Chivas, will entertain Atlante and San Luis respectively.

High stakes: Puebla, third in Group 1, and Atlas, fourth in Group 3, will both attempt to make it ten points from a possible 12 when they collide on Sunday.
Players to watch: Toluca's Hector Mancilla and Humberto Suazo of Monterrey both have a point to prove. The former missed a penalty in the unbeaten Group 3 leaders' home draw last weekend, while the latter was dropped from the starting line-up for the Group 1 runners-up's defeat by Santos Laguna. Which of these Chilean sharpshooters will be smiling after their shootout on Saturday? 

Saudi Premier League: Giants go stride for stride
Al Hilal pipped Al Ittihad to gold in a dramatic conclusion to the 2007/08 season, and another thrilling sprint finish ensues between the pair. Level on points and with identical head-to-head records, the country's two most successful outfits face critical tests in Round 19 of 22.

The holders will entrust stand-outs Christian Wilhelmsson and Yasser Al Qahtani with earning them victory at third-placed Al Shabab, while the Tigers will welcome fourth-placed Al Ittifaq to Jeddah.

High stakes: Al Watani could move off the bottom with victory, which Al Nasr will be eager to deny them as they fight to finish third.
Players to watch: Al Ittihad attackers Sultan Al Namri and Nayef Hazazi, along with Al Ittifaq forward Saleh Basheer, will be keen to impress new Saudi Arabia coach Jose Peseiro.

Tunisian Ligue 1: The battle of Tunis
It is a match that could potentially decide the destination of the title: leaders Esperance away to unbeaten runners-up Club Africain, one point behind their Tunis rivals with six rounds remaining. The hosts boast the competition's meanest defence, and will hope the genius of Wissem Ben Yahia and Zouhaier Dhaouadi can swing the contest in their favour, but they will be aware that no team has outscored Esperance; no player their fleet-footed Nigerian Mickeal Eneramo.

Etoile Sahel, four points off the pace in third, will look to make it four wins on the bounce - and keep their title hopes alive - at Hammam-Sousse.

High stakes: Rock-bottom Kasserine need to find their rhythm soon to avoid a swift return to the second flight, while defeat could plunge their visitors, Gafsa, into the relegation zone.
Players to watch: In a battle of two sides competing for Arab Champions League qualification places, Monastir, in fifth, and sixth-placed Stade Tunisien will look to Aymen Ayari and Khmir Jmail respectively.

Elsewhere
Melbourne Victory will enter the Australian A-League Grand Final as the overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy for the second time in three seasons. Playing away from home, against luminaries such as Carlos Hernandez, Archie Thompson and Danny Allsopp, and a side to whom the lost 6-0 on aggregate in the Major semi-final and five times in five meetings this campaign, Adelaide United have a mountain to climb. However, recent Socceroos call-ups will have lifted the confidence of Reds players Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Paul Reid, Fabian Barbiero, Daniel Mullen and Robert Cornthwaite, who said: "It's a one-off game and we are pretty confident we can get the result."

Leaders Isidro Metapan and closest challengers Nejapa will put the Salvadoran Clausura's only unbeaten records on the line on Saturday. The reigning Apertura kings will charge Uruguayan playmaker Paulo Suarez, El Salvador international Williams Reyes and much-travelled Panamanian Anel Canales with keeping them top, while Guillermo Moran and Hector Canjura will carry the visitors' hopes of a fourth win in six attempts.

Singapore Armed Forces and Geylang United, their nation's present superpower and most successful all-time team respectively, both won their Sinaporean S-League openers convincingly. Can the prolific Aleksander Duric inspire the Warriors on to six points, or will Masrezwan Masturi and Ashrin Sharrif help visiting United upset their former club?


Predictor
Monterrey-Toluca, Libertad-Nacional and Singapore Armed Forces-Geylang United are among the matches on the FIFA World Leagues Predictor's Round 25 menu. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up and take a shot at winning this weekend's prize.