Breathing space the target

Breathing space is what the frontrunners in Argentina, Korea Republic and Nigeria will hope to put between themselves and their nearest rivals over the weekend. It is also what a quartet of sides will attempt to gain ahead of their semi-final, second legs in Brazil.

The race for play-off places continues in Mexico, where one of the continent's biggest derbies will take place. The Chilean calendar can also make this claim, while history could be made in Malaysia. Read on as takes a closer look.

Argentinian Clausura: Frontrunners expect
Top two River Plate and Estudiantes will expect nothing less than home victories in Round 10 as the two sides directly below them play away. Los Millonarios, one point clear, entertain Tigre, while Nestor Sensini must prepare his charges for the visit of struggling Lanus.

Boca Juniors, four points off the pace in third and struggling in Juan Roman Riquelme's absence, travel to winless Gimnasia Jujuy. Fourth-placed San Martin, for whom Martin Bravo has been on fire, will strive to make it four straight wins at Velez Sarsfield.

Big game: One of Argentina's most distinguished sides, rock-bottom Racing Club will be eager for their first win of the campaign at home to out-of-sorts Arsenal.
Player to watch: A Juan Carlos Menseguez treble helped San Lorenzo beat Tigre 5-1 last time out to go fifth. The former Wolfsburg man now has Rosario Central in his sights.

Brazilian State Championships: Final places at stake
A spot in the Paulista State Championship final will amplify the Choque Rei (King's Clash) stakes on Sunday. Sao Paulo will be relying on current or former Brazilian internationals Rogerio Ceni, Hernanes, Richarlyson and Adriano to help them establish a first-leg advantage, while Palmeiras will seek inspiration from Korea/Japan 2002 winners Marcos and Denilson, Alex Mineiro and the brilliant Valdivia.

In the other semi-final, surprise regular season winners Guaratingueta will play part one of their tie at Ponte Preta.

Big game: For the winners of Saturday's Fluminense-Vasco contest; a place in the Taca Rio final. For the losers; the end of their Campeonato Carioca aspirations.
Players to watch: Lucio Flavio and Renato Augusto, the respective No10s of Botafogo and Flamengo, are among the finest players in Brazil. Which of them will be celebrating following their Taca Rio semi-final?

Mexican Clausura: Trio fight for pole
Group 1 supremacy will be on the line when pacesetters Toluca and Jaguares clash, while a draw would allow Pachuca, who host Monterrey, the chance to assume pole position on goal difference.

The sides currently sandwiching Monterrey in Group B are set to battle. Victory would leave Santos Laguna, currently four points clear with only four rounds remaining, on the cusp of a play-off place, but Atlas, buoyed by a Bruno Marioni-inspired defeat of Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores midweek, will be determined to close to within two points of their opponents.

Big game: Form is, to an extent, thrown out of the window when El Clásico de Clásicos unfolds, and America will be hoping to take some consolation from a miserable campaign by overcoming high-flying Guadalajara.
Players to watch: Pachuca may be the competition's most prolific side, but Humberto Suazo and Jared Borgetti are fresh from striking six of Monterrey's goals in a 7-2 reverse of Veracruz.

Nigerian Premier League: All to play for
A quartet of sides have dominated the Nigerian top flight since its 1972 foundation, but it is a trio of uncrowned sides that lead a wide open scrap for gold this term. Round 34 of 38 pits second-placed Niger Tornadoes against Kano Pillars, one point clear at the top.

Third-placed Bayelsa United's ten-match unbeaten run will be given a stern test at holders Enyimba, who, seven points off the pace, require victory to maintain their hopes of a sixth prize. Another two five-time champions will also square off when fourth-placed Heartland entertain Rangers International.

Big game: Sunshine Stars are the fourth uncrowned member of a top five separated by just four points. Success at Wikki Tourists is the Stars' next target.
Players to watch: If anybody can revitalise Enyimba's challenge it is surely teenage striker Stephen Worgu, who Bayelsa rock Kolo Awe will attempt to keep in check.

Korean K-League: Top four collide
First travel to second and third host fourth this weekend, all hoping to finish Round 5 in the driving seat. It is a position presently occupied by Suwon Samsung Bluewings, who are in for a test at FC Seoul.

Kim Jung-Woo scored on his debut to help Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma win 4-0 last weekend and move to within two points of the pace, and he will be one figure of concern to Incheon United, who currently tie the top two on ten points.

Big game: Chunnam Dragons posted an uplifting victory over Chonburi in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday. Can they pocket their first K-League success of the season at home to Gyeongnam?
Players to watch: The in-form Jang Nam-Seok will be hoping to fire Daegu on to nine points, but keeping Jeonbuk Motors' Cho Jae-Jin quiet will be no easy task.

Kedah will become the first team to successfully defend the Malaysian Super League title with three rounds to spare if they beat Terengganu at home and Selangor fail to win at tailenders Pulau Pinang. This outcome would suit Negeri Sembilan and Perak, six and four points behind the runners-up and set to do battle in Seremban. Perak will be determined to win as a tribute to their long-serving former president Datuk Teoh Chye Hin, who passed away earlier this week aged 94.

The scrap for play-off places in the Chilean Apertura is extremely tight, and that will only add to the intensity when the leaders of Groups B and C, arch-enemies Universidad de Chile and Colo Colo, contest El Superclásico.

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