Following the latest international interlude, domestic football is back in the spotlight with Mexico and Colombia both hosting high-profile clásicos. In Argentina, Arsenal and Velez Sarsfield have perfect records to defend, while Fluminense look to stretch their lead in Brazil. FIFA.com previews the forthcoming action outside Europe.
Argentinian Apertura: Tough tests for top two
Arsenal have surprised everyone by winning their first four games, a record that will be on the line when they visit the Estadio Monumental to take on a relegation-threatened River Plate side still smarting from their first defeat of the campaign. Lying fourth with a game in hand, Estudiantes will attempt to bounce back from their Recopa Sudamericana defeat by Liga de Quito when they host Racing Club, who have lost three on the trot and need to make amends quickly to safeguard their top-flight status.
High stakes: Leaders after seeing off River last weekend, Velez Sarsfield defend their 100 per cent record away to Ramon Diaz’s unbeaten San Lorenzo. After downing Boca Juniors at the Bombonera last weekend, El Ciclón will be confident of stopping Velez in their tracks.
Player to watch: Martin Palermo scored his first goal in six games in that loss to San Lorenzo. Having collected only four points in five games, struggling Boca need their ageless goal-getter to get on the score-sheet again at Olimpo.
Brasileirao: Heat is on for Fluminense
The title battle between Fluminense and Corinthians continues with the former defending their three-point lead at Atletico Goianiense and O Timão, who have a game in hand, playing host to a Gremio side marooned in the bottom half of the table. Still in the title hunt are Cruzeiro, Santos and Internacional, who take on Avai, Ceara and Goias respectively.
High stakes: Botafogo boosted their championship chances with a 1-0 defeat of Santos on Thursday, and will bank on the skill of Maicosuel and the pace of Jobson to see of visiting Sao Paulo.
Player to watch: The scorer of seven goals in his last five games, Gioaniense’s Elias is the league’s joint-top scorer along with Bruno Cesar of Corinthians. Newly-promoted Atletico need their leading marksman to stay in the goals if they are to pull out of the relegation zone.
Mexican Apertura: All eyes on the north
Among the stand-out games in Mexico is Toluca’s visit to Necaxa, with Argentinian coach Daniel Brailovsky taking charge of his first game for Los Rayos. Another new man at the helm is Estudiantes caretaker Luis Manuel Diaz, who takes his side to Atlante.
High stakes: Upstaging both those games, however, is Saturday’s Clásico del Norte between Monterrey and Tigres. There is more than local pride in play, with Los Rayados out to maintain their fine start to the season and their city rivals out to banish the spectre of relegation.
Player to watch: Humberto Suazo has lost none of his goalscoring nous since returning to Monterrey from Spain. El Chupete has struck six times so far this season, a haul he will be out to augment against old rivals Tigres in the Clásico Regiomontano.
The main attraction on matchday 22 in the Chinese Super League is the visit of leaders Shandong Luneng to holders Beijing Guoan, who find themselves 12 points off the pace. Six points adrift in second, Shanghai Shenhua need to win at Liaoning Whowin to maintain realistic hopes of overhauling Shandong in the run-in.
Cali is the place to be in Colombia this weekend, as eternal foes America and Deportivo square off again. Only two points separate the sides in mid-table and both have considerable ground to make up on leaders Santa Fe, who have led from day one and defend their lead away to relegation-threatened Millonarios. Elswehere, second plays fifth as Huila make the trip to Tolima.
Finally, Australian A League co-leaders Adelaide United and Perth Glory have seemingly straightforward respective home engagements against Newcastle Jets and Gold Coast United, both of whom have yet to win this season.