European Leagues preview
There will be no chance for the players and fans to catch their breaths this weekend as a full programme of fascinating league fixtures awaits, sandwiched in between the break for 2010 FIFA World Cup™ South Africa qualifying and the start of another season of European club competition.
In England, Arsenal are due to travel to the city of Manchester for the second time in two weeks, just as Juventus must make their second consecutive trip to Rome in Serie A. Two high-profile talents are expected to make their debuts in France, while in Germany Bayern Munich will be looking to build on progress shown before international affairs took centre stage. Lastly, Spanish football's leading duo are gearing up for their first tests away from home.
Premier League: London versus Manchester
Two weeks after losing at United, sixth-placed Arsenal will return to Manchester to face a City side riding high in fourth. It looks to be tough mission for Arsene Wenger's troops against opponents who boast three wins from three outings, courtesy of a goal per game from former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor. Meanwhile, the Red Devils, in third, travel to the capital to take on the team one spot above them, Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs have taken maximum points from their four matches so far this term but will be wary of ex-White Hart Lane favourite Dimitar Berbatov.
Those two high-profile encounters could allow leaders Chelsea to streak clear, should the Blues earn themselves a triumph at fifth-placed Stoke City. For their part, Liverpool will be desperate to lift themselves up from seventh when they welcome promoted side Burnley, who already boast the scalp of Manchester United, while Birmingham City are due to face local foes Aston Villa.
The question: Can Arsenal become the first club to score against City this season?
The big game: Tottenham-Manchester United, Saturday, 17.30, White Hart Lane
The quote: " He has all the attributes that you need from a good captain. He has great enthusiasm for the game, he's vocal in the dressing room before, during and after games and he wants to drive the club forward." Manchester City coach Mark Hughes on Kolo Toure
La Liga: Barça in Madrid, Real in Barcelona
It would be foolish to read anything into the league table after just one match, but Barcelona's trip to Getafe represents nothing less than a meeting between the teams in first and second. The club from the suburbs of Madrid lead the way at present and Barça will above all need to pay close attention to striker Roberto Soldado, who helped himself to an opening-day hat-trick and once represented the Blaugrana's eternal rivals, Real Madrid.
Sixth themselves, Los Merengues will be in Catalonia to take on 14th-placed Espanyol, who succumbed at Athletic Bilbao in their first match of the nascent campaign. Real impressed going forward as they kicked off 2009/10 with a 3-2 win over Deportivo la Coruna, but they will need to tighten up at the back - as will neighbours Atletico, who succumbed 3-0 at Malaga two weeks ago and hope to respond at home against Racing Santander.
The question: On target against Sevilla on opening day and again with Spain in midweek, will Valencia forward Juan Manuel Mata continue his run against Real Valladolid?
The big game: Getafe-Barcelona, Saturday, 18.00, Coliseum Alfonso Perez
The quote: "We're all in the same boat and we have to row in the same direction. Our team needs the support of the fans." Juanito, Atletico Madrid defender
Serie A: All roads lead Juve to Rome
A fortnight after having overcome Rome in the capital, second-placed Juventus return to the Eternal City to take on Lazio, in fourth. The ambitious duo both boast two wins from two games and the outcome of their mouth-watering meeting could well come down to a South American duel between Lazio's Argentinian striker Julio Cruz and Juve's Brazilian playmaker Diego, both of whom have impressed early on. The two other sides still possessing a perfect record face more difficult challenges, meanwhile, with leaders Sampdoria away at Atalanta and third-placed Genoa hosting Napoli.
The task for defending champions Inter, in fifth, will be to produce an impressive follow-up to their derby success against promoted Parma, while AC Milan need to erase memories of that crushing defeat when they travel to face newcomers Livorno.
The question: Bottom after two matches and now coached by Claudio Ranieri, can Roma collect their first points of the new season at Siena?
The big game: Lazio-Juventus, Saturday, 20.45, Stadio Olimpico
The quote: "The position we occupy is not by chance. It's deserved, without a doubt. I know Atalanta have no points, but we cannot be fooled by that. They will bounce back and they know how to find extra strength at home." Sampdoria and former Atalanta coach, Luigi Del Neri
Bundesliga: Temperature rises for pacesetters
Hamburg and Leverkusen are the early frontrunners in Germany after four games apiece, but the pair will both have to be at their best to stay on top. HSV entertain prickly opponents in Stuttgart, who remain unbeaten and want to avenge their 3-0 pre-season loss to the same side, while Leverkusen visit Wolfsburg, where the titleholders will be anxious to bounce back following consecutive defeats by Hamburg and Bayern Munich.
Back in eighth, Bayern finally got their season going when they overcame Armin Veh's charges, thanks in large part to a superb cameo from substitute Arjen Robben. The former Real winger will now be keen for a starting berth in a high-profile meeting with Borussia Dortmund, currently 12th. In the lower reaches, Nuremberg and Cologne will be up against it as they target a first win of the campaign against Monchengladbach and Schalke respectively.
The question: German striker Stefan Kiessling has plundered four goals in four outings for Leverkusen: can he maintain that hot streak of form?
The big game: Hamburg-Stuttgart, Saturday, 18.30, HSH Nordbank Arena
The quote: "Leverkusen's attack is one of the best in the Bundesliga. We'll have to more careful than we were against Hamburg and away against Bayern." Armin Veh, Wolfsburg coach
Ligue 1: Advantage Bordeaux and Lyon
Currently top on goal difference, champions Bordeaux could not continue their perfect start to the season as they drew 0-0 at Marseille last time out, but they face an excellent chance to get back to winning ways at home against basement outfit Grenoble. Closest challengers Lyon will also fancy their chances of victory when they host seventh-placed Lorient, however.
The task for Paris Saint-Germain, in third, looks decidedly more complicated as they journey to Monaco, where new coach Guy Lacombe will be eager to teach his old club a lesson and erstwhile Chelsea and Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen is expected to make his debut for the Stade Louis II side. In a similar vein, fifth-placed Marseille hope Lucho Gonzalez will be ready to make his first appearance for the club following the shoulder injury he suffered in pre-season, with OM looking to post their third win of the season at Le Mans.
The question: Having failed to find the net in their opening four games, will Auxerre at last be able to register their first goal of the campaign?
The big game: Monaco-PSG, Sunday, 21.00, Stade Louis II
The quote: "[Mathieu] Coutadeur and Gudjohnsen will contribute a greater technical level to the team. They're also bound to finish a fair amount of chances. I just hope they don't do it against us." Antoine Kombouare, PSG coach
With 22 rounds of matches already played in Norway, the title looks to be heading Rosenborg's way as the Trondheim club enjoy a ten-point lead over Molde. In fact, the real question is which team will be the first to prevail against the champions-in-waiting. This weekend, evergreen marksman Steffen Iversen and Co are in action away against Stabaek, who clinched the crown last term and lie fifth this time around.
In Turkey, all eyes will be on the first big Istanbul derby of the season, between Besiktas and Galatsaray at the Ali Sami Yen stadium on Saturday. Last year's Super Lig winners Besiktas are as low as eighth due to a record of one win and three draws, leaving them eager for a morale-boosting success over their city neighbours, who occupy the summit thanks to a perfect start.