From unity to rivalry
Fans from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Iran and South Africa united in support of their countries in midweek, but domestic action will divide them this weekend. With crucial fixtures in Malaysia, too, FIFA.com previews the forthcoming action outside Europe.
Argentinian Clausura: Frontrunners out to preserve
Newell's Old Boys began the season in style at home to Gimnasia La Plata, but the early leaders will have a sterner assignment when they visit Boca Juniors in Round 2. Juan Roman Riquelme and Lucas Viatri will be out to help Los Xeneizes to six points, although they will be wary of Mauro Formica's threat.
Like Formica, Jose Sand scored twice to his side to victory in Round 1, and he will strive to help Lanus undo Gimnasia in La Plata. Meanwhile, San Lorenzo and Arsenal will look to maintain their 100 per cent starts at home to Godoy Cruz and Tigre respectively.
Big game: The Apertura 2008 was a disaster for Rosario Central and River Plate, who finished second-bottom and bottom respectively. After drawing their openers, both will be desperate for three points at the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito.
Players to watch: Which No10 will be celebrating victory after Sunday's contest in Tucuman: San Martin's Cesar La Paglia or Daniel Montenegro of Independiente?
Brazilian State Championships: Majestic rule up for grabs
Sao Paulo and Corinthians, third and second respectively in the Paulistao, will contest the Clássico Majestoso on Sunday. With Ronaldo nearing first-team action, the pressure will be on Souza to find his scoring touch, and he will be relieved Tricolor Paulista goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni is injured. The hosts will also be without the suspended Hugo, although Hernanes's return will ease their concerns.
With Cleiton Xavier, Diego Souza and Keirrison in form, leaders Palmeiras will strive to make it maximum points from seven games at home to Paulista.
Big game: Rio heavyweights Fluminense must beat Tigres, and hope either Americano or Cabofriense drop points, to reach the Taca Guanabara semi-finals.
Players to watch: Atletico Mineiro fans will be hoping Diego Tardelli's excellent form continues against fierce enemies Cruzeiro, who will welcome influential midfiedler Ramires back from injury.
Costa Rican: Giants seek kick-start
Alajuelense and Saprissa have won the last 17 league titles between them, but they have both made stuttering starts to this campaign. Herediano, the last side to break this two-team monopoly, will look to hand El Monstruo Lila, who finished third at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2005, their third loss in four games. An interesting subplot to Sunday's match will be the duel between the visitors' Andy Furtado and Saprissa No10 Walter Centeno. The former scored both goals in Costa Rica's 2-0 victory over Honduras in midweek, while the latter impressed as captain.
Meantime, Alajuelense, on four points from three outings, host Group A leaders Puntarenas, for whom Kurt Bernard and Mario Camacho have been shining.
Big game: Victory over UCR would keep Cartagines top of Group B, but their hosts, winless in five games, will be determined to avoid more misery.
Players to watch: The performances of Brujas's Danny Fonesca and Alejandro Sequeira of Ramonense are expected to be central to the outcome of their encounter.
Malaysian Super League: Quartet aim for fifth success
Four teams will enter Round 6 level on 12 points at the summit, and two of these will encounter on Saturday. Plus FC's hopes of emerging victorious will rest heavily on the shoulders of Mohd Fazli and Bobby Gonzalez, while Selangor will look for inspiration from enchanting forward, Mohd Safee.
Negeri Sembilan, top on goal difference, largely thanks to Shahurain Abu Samah's efforts, will travel to fifth-placed Perlis, and Kelanton will pursue a fifth straight success at home to Terengganu.
Big game: Chasing a third straight title, Kedah finally picked up their first victory of the season in midweek. They will look to build on that when they visit UPB-MyTeam.
Players to watch: Liew Kit Kong has been central to Kuala Muda Naza's positive start, but the top-flight newcomers will have their hands full with Penang attacker Mohd Imre.
South African Premiership: Catch-up time
Three teams will attempt to halve SuperSport United's six-point cushion when they play their game in hand on the leaders this weekend. Ajax Cape Town, in fourth, will entrust the competition's joint-leading marksman, Mabhuti Khanyeza, with ending their four-match winless run at home to AmaZulu, while runners-up Mamelodi Sundowns will hope Surprise Moriri can make Bidvest Wits his next victim.
Third-placed Orlando Pirates face a stern examination of their title credentials. With Lebogang Mothibantwa, Bennett Chenene and Katlego Mashego all unavailable, Ruud Krol's side must try to upset Soweto rivals Moroka Swallows, who are also in the title hunt, in their own backyard.
Big game: Victory would move Kaizer Chiefs four points behind SuperSport, but Bloemfontein Celtic will be equally desperate for all three points at the Super Stadium as they fight against relegation.
Players to watch: Sandile Ndlovu has thrived of late. Teko Modise, the rienging PSL Footballer of the Year, will be doing his utmost to ensure the Swallows forward suffers a miserable Sunday.
Melbourne Victory put one foot in the Australian A-League's Grand Final with a 2-0 win over Adelaide United and, aided by home advantage, will expect to complete the job when they play their second leg on Saturday. The losers will enter the Preliminary Final - with the winners of this game going into the Grand Final - where they will play the victors of Queensland Roar's meeting with Adelaide United. With the prolific Sergio van Dijk leading their line and a two-goal cuashion from the first leg away, the Roar are firm favourites.
Esteghlal's five-match winning run and five-point lead atop of the Iranian Pro League will be tested on Friday evening, when their arch-rivals Perspolis pay them a visit. With a star-studded cast including Karim Bagheri, Ali Karimi and Alireza Nikbakht, the reigning champions, nine points off the pace in third, know victory in one of Asia's biggest derbies is imperative if they are to retain realistic title hopes. Meantime, runners-up Zob-Ahan will visit Saipa.
Moroka Swallows-Orlando Pirates, Melbourne Victory-Adelaide United, Rosario Central-River Plate and Inter Milan-AC Milan are among the matches on the FIFA World Leagues Predictor's Round 23 menu. If you haven't already, be sure to sign up and take a shot at winning this weekend's prize.
- Mauro FORMICA »
- Cesar LA PAGLIA »
- Daniel MONTENEGRO »
- Juan RIQUELME »
- Jose SAND »
- CLEITON XAVIER »
- HERNANES »
- RAMIRES »
- ROGERIO CENI »
- RONALDO »
- Walter CENTENO »
- Danny FONSECA »
- Andy FURTADO »
- Bobby GONZALES »
- Liew KIT KONG »
- Mohd SALI »
- Katlego MASHEGO »
- Teko MODISE »
- Surprise MORIRI »
- Sandile NDLOVU »
- Karim BAGHERI »
- Ali KARIMI »