World Leagues preview
Despite the heavy international schedule in midweek, another big weekend on the domestic front is in store around the globe. The Japanese season will commence as the campaign moves towards its climax in Australia, while there are intriguing battles for supremacy in Argentina, Mexico and Iran. FIFA.com takes you on a whistle-stop tour of the best of the upcoming action outside Europe.
J.League: Kashima aim for four straight
The campaign commences this weekend with the main focus on Kashima Antlers, who are gunning for their fourth straight title. Kashima are in confident mood ahead of the visit of big guns Urawa Red Diamonds, having last weekend won the Super Cup against Gamba Osaka. Former Urawa icon Marcus Tulio Tanaka has joined Dragan Stojkovic’s ambitious Nagoya Grampus, who travel to Osaka in what will be another heavyweight battle.
Big game: Perennial bridesmaids Kawasaki Frontale, who missed the title by two points last term, will look to start well at Albirex Niigata. However, they will be without the services of key midfielder Kengo Nakamura, who is out for up to eight weeks after recently suffering a broken jaw.
Player to watch: Former Espanyol, Celtic and Reggina playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura will feature on a J.League pitch for the first time in eight years following his recent move to Yokohama F Marinos. His much-anticipated debut will be in the Japanese capital, with the Marinos away at FC Tokyo.
Argentinian Clausura: Tight at the top
Unfancied Godoy Cruz will look to maintain their surprise lead at the top with a challenging assignment at Newell’s Old Boys. An impressive 2-1 midweek win at Lanus left Godoy Cruz one point clear of Independiente after seven rounds. Velez Sarsfield will look to return to form at Argentinos Juniors, with the Clausura 2009 champions collecting just one point out a possible six recently, having suffered their first defeat of the campaign against Huracan last weekend.
Big game: Lanus and Estudiantes will both be aiming to get back on track after suffering defeat in midweek. The pair have shown erratic form this campaign with both having Copa Libertadores commitments to also contend with.
Player to watch: Evergreen striker Martin Palermo needs just one goal in the weekend’s match against Racing to claim outright ownership of the club’s goalscoring record. The 36-year-old’s goal in a remarkable 4-4 draw with Velez Sarsfield midweek saw him join Robert Cerro on 218 goals for the Buenos Aires giants.
Mexican Bicentenario: Chivas seek nine straight
In-form Guadalajara will be optimistic of improving their impressive winning streak to nine matches when they travel to a Jaguares side who have not won at home in more than a year. America receive Queretaro, the league's surprise package, and Cruz Azul will try to build on their momentum of the last two matches when they visit the disappointing San Luis.
Big game: Monterrey and Pachuca meet in what should be the match of the weekend between two of the strongest teams in the competition.
Player to watch: After recent impressive performances with the national team, including a midweek strike against New Zealand, Javier Hernandez will look to add to his tally of eight at the summit of the scorers' chart.
Iran Pro League: Leaders look to maintain form
Round 28 of the Iran Pro League features straightforward matches on paper for the pacesetters, as leaders Sepahan travel to newcomers Teraktor and their city rivals Zobahan host another newly-promoted side in Shahin Pars. Tehran giants Persepolis, still nine points off the pace in third place, will be hoping to take advantage of any slip from the two frontrunners when they meet Foolad.
Big game: Mes Kerman will take confidence from their recent 4-2 win against UAE's Al Ahli in their AFC Champions League opener as they continue their battle against relegation when they meet Moghavemat.
Player to watch: The focus will again turn to veteran Iraq striker Emad Mohammed, whose 17 goals have played a major role in Sepahan’s run at the top this season.
The Australian A-League is reaching its climax with just four teams remaining in the hunt for the championship, with either Wellington Phoenix or Newcastle Jets staring at elimination this weekend. The New Zealand-based side will host the Jets, with Westpac Stadium sold out and set to host the biggest domestic crowd in the nation’s history. In the other semi-final, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will meet with the winner to host the title decider in a fortnight.
Ba and Nadi will meet in the Fijian National League looking to take maximum advantage in the absence of runaway leaders Lautoka, who have OFC O-League commitments. Last season’s champions have already scored 18 goals, and taken maximum points, from their opening three matches to take an early lead.
The Bolivian National League will commence with reigning champions Blooming hosting Universitario Sucre, while Copa Libertadores participants Bolivar travel to Jorge Wilstermann.
The third week of the Kenyan Premier League will be highlighted by leaders Tusker travelling to Sher Karuturi, while KCB host Sofapaka in an important game.