European Leagues preview
With the first matchday in the UEFA Champions League safely out of the way, Europe's biggest clubs once again turn their attention to domestic matters. In England, the Manchester derby and an all-London showdown catch the eye, while the fans in Paris can look forward to a visit from the previously dominant force in the French game, now looking to claim back the crown they relinquished last term. The Spanish, Italian and German schedules also offer plenty to whet the appetite. As ever, FIFA.com previews the weekend action around the continent.
England: Manchester rivals meet as equals
For once, the Manchester City faithful will make their way to Old Trafford, riding a wave of confidence. Manchester United have lorded it over their cross-city rivals for many a long year, but their newly-rich neighbours can now look the Red Devils firmly in the eye without flinching. The teams are currently level on 12 points apiece, although the Citizens have a game in hand on the champions.
The Manchester derby is not the only tasty fixture in the Premier League this weekend. In London, leaders Chelsea take on Tottenham Hotspur, their rivals from the north of the capital, meaning the top four in the table come face to face. Liverpool are also in London, away to West Ham, while Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from consecutive league defeats when they entertain Wigan.
The question: Can Chelsea maintain their perfect start at home to Spurs?
The big game: Manchester United-Manchester City, Sunday 20 September, 14.30, Old Trafford
The quote: "We played well against Arsenal. Now we have to go to Old Trafford and show our credentials," Kolo Toure (Manchester City).
Spain: Crisis-hit Atletico face the champions
After an atrocious start to the season, the storm clouds have gathered over Atletico Madrid. Third from bottom of the league, they have yet to win, and their fans are seething with discontent - not the moment you would choose to face the best team in Europe. On the plus side, Atletico have little to lose on their travels to Barcelona, and could kick-start their season in the event of a shock victory.
Nevertheless, Lionel Messi and Co start the match as runaway favourites, as do bitter rivals Real Madrid. The new galacticos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and all, are aiming to heat the Bernabeu to boiling point when they meet promoted Deportivo Xerez, still looking for their first point of the campaign. Nothing is guaranteed, but goals must be a likelihood. Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao are on a roll after winning both league games so far, but will be wary of perennial dark horses Villarreal.
The question: Can ultra-efficient Athletic Bilbao, 1-0 winners in both games to date, continue their run against Villarreal?
The big game: Barcelona-Atletico Madrid, Saturday 19 September, 22.00, Camp Nou
The quote: "It would be terrific if we took a point off Real Madrid - a miracle, in fact," Leandro (Deportivo Xerez).
Italy: Lion aims to show teeth
To outsiders, Naples sometimes resembles an urban jungle - colourful and boisterous, but a jungle nonetheless. Fittingly enough, Napoli boss Roberto Donadoni recently described himself as a lion, slavering for success in Serie A. But the lion's roar has been muted so far. Despite a raft of big-name signings over the summer, the men from Naples have taken just three points so far, and will urgently be looking to double that total at home to Udinese.
By contrast, the three teams with 100 per cent records after three games face seemingly routine fixtures. Genoa travel to Verona to face Chievo, Juventus entertain Livorno, and Sampdoria are at home to Siena. The Milan giants are looking to make up ground after patchy starts: Inter visit third from bottom Cagliari, while AC host struggling Bologna.
The question: Can Genoa defend their early lead in the Italian top flight?
The big game: Roma-Fiorentina, Sunday 20 September, 20.45, Stadio Olimpico
The quote: "I don't have the feeling my job's in danger," Roberto Donadoni (Napoli coach).
France: PSG seek capital gains
After years in the doldrums, Paris Saint-Germain opened their Ligue 1 campaign in a manner much better befitting the elegant and pulsating French capital. However, a 2-0 defeat away to Monaco last time out brought the soaring Parisians crashing back down to earth. One good thing about league football is the chance to wipe the slate clean just a few days later, although Antoine Kombouare and his men might have hoped for easier opponents than big-spending Olympique Lyon, who arrive at Parc des Princes on 13 points from five games, second in the table on goal difference.
For their part, Lyon can hardly afford a slip-up against PSG, as leaders and champions Bordeaux travel to face Boulogne-sur-Mer determined to put the high-flying promoted outfit firmly in their place. The second of the truly big games in France takes place on the south coast, where fourth-placed Marseille will aim to teach promoted upstarts and Mediterranean coast rivals Montpellier, a place above Olympique in the standings, a lesson about life in the top flight.
The question: Can newcomers Montpellier preserve their fine unbeaten record away to Olympique Marseille?
The big game: Paris Saint-Germain-Olympique Lyon, Sunday 20 September, 21.00, Parc des Princes
The quote: "It's the game we've all been waiting for. I'm convinced we can beat Lyon," Ceara (Paris Saint-Germain).
Germany: Northern giants in the spotlight
The sixth Bundesliga matchday features a long-distance duel between the biggest clubs from the north of the country. Leaders Hamburg, keen to show their fine domestic form has not been dented by a poor midweek showing in Vienna, travel to face undefeated Eintracht Frankfurt. Werder Bremen can do their bitter rivals a huge favour by beating joint leaders Bayer Leverkusen away from home.
In the south, the spotlight falls on the 179th edition of the long-running all-Bavaria derby, when resurgent Bayern Munich meet promoted FC Nuernberg. The neighbourly rivalry is compounded by the fact that the men from Nuremberg held the record for German championship wins until 1987, when they were overtaken by Bayern. Champions Wolfsburg visit Schalke, determined to stop a miserable run of three Bundesliga defeats on the bounce.
The question: Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg are both undefeated. Who will emerge from their meeting with that record intact?
The big game: Schalke-Wolfsburg, Friday 18 September, 20.30, Veltins Arena
The quote: "We're not leading the league, we have ground to make up, and we know Saturday's match is a derby. We fully intend to keep up our run," Daniel van Buyten (Bayern Munich).
In the Dutch Eredivisie, PSV Eindhoven and Rotterdam giants Feyenoord are the early form teams. With six games played, both have amassed 14 points. Eindhoven boast the second-best attack in the league with 16 goals, but Feyenoord have the meanest defence with only three goals conceded. Something has to give when the pair meet in Rotterdam this Sunday.
Two of the biggest names in Bulgarian football clash in a Sofia derby on Saturday, where leaders CSKA entertain champions Levski, currently in fifth spot. The home team are undefeated in five, but the visitors have lost one of their four games so far, to the capital's third footballing powerhouse, Locomotive Sofia.