World Leagues preview
There are a host of fascinating matches in store around the globe this weekend, among them the Buenos Aires superclásico and the Grand Final in Australia. FIFA.com looks ahead to those games and more as it previews the pick of the action from outside Europe.
Argentinian Clausura: Superclásico stakes still high
While the country’s two most successful clubs face off in the big Buenos Aires derby, Independiente will look to protect their advantage at the summit at home to Rosario Central, who are floundering in the bottom three. Americo Gallego’s table-toppers are in fine form, having won their last four matches without conceding a single goal. Two points behind them lie surprise contenders Godoy Cruz, who take on Apertura 2009 champions Banfield in a match that will go a long way to revealing whether their title ambitions are genuine.
Big game: Boca Juniors-River Plate. Though Boca are currently fourth-bottom, having made their worst-ever start to a league campaign, and River are faring little better, the 186th superclásico will still occupy centre stage in Argentina this weekend. Los Millonarios took the spoils in the two pre-season friendlies between the sides, though that will count for little when the old foes face off with valuable league points at stake.
Players to watch: Over the last 13 years River have suffered more than most at the hands of Martin Palermo, who is just one goal away from becoming the highest scorer in Boca history. Vying for the spotlight with him will be River midfielder Marcelo Gallardo, who is set to make his 300th appearance in the distinctive red and white jersey. The last two league meetings between the sides both ended in 1-1 draws, with Gallardo and Palermo scoring the goals on both occasions.
Brazilian state championships: Play-off spots up for grabs
There are only five rounds of games remaining in the regular season in the Campeonato Paulista. Four and five points behind leaders Corinthians respectively, Palmeiras and Ponte Preta meet in a game that will go a long way to determining their play-off aspirations. O Timão will be hoping Dentinho continues his fine form against Gremio, while Santos take on Ituano and Sao Paulo face Mogi Mirim.
Big game: Operario and Cianorte hold the last two qualification slots in the second stage of the Campeonato Paranaense and can seal their the play-off berths if they earn respective wins over Nacional and surprise packages Iraty.
Players to watch: Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno and his Botafogo counterpart Jefferson could have a big say in the outcome of the Taca Rio match between the leading sides in Groups A and B.
Korean K-League: Stiff test for Jeonbuk
Matchday 4 features a repeat of last season’s overall decider as leaders Jeonbuk Motors take on Seongnam Chunma. Down at the other end of the table, Gangwon and Daejeon Citizen go in search of their first wins of the campaign away to Pohang Steelers and Jeju United respectively, while bottom side Daegu, who have yet to win a point, are at home to Ulsan Hyundai Horangi.
Big game: The match between Jeonbuk and Seongnam pits last term’s champions against the side they beat to claim the crown. One point clear at the top, the holders are looking to build on last weekend’s encouraging 1-0 win at FC Seoul. Seongnam are in fine fettle themselves after dispatching Incheon United 6-0 in their last outing. That result that extended their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions and took their goal tally for the season so far to 13.
Players to watch: The country’s leading scorers with three goals apiece, Seongnam’s midfield pairing of Mauricio Molina and Fabricio are training their sights on Jeonbuk and the top of the table.
Australian A-League: The moment of truth
The 2009/10 title will be seized on Saturday when Sydney take on Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final. The Sky Blues have the psychological edge going into the game, having downed the Victory twice during the regular season.
Big game: Sydney ended the season one point clear of Melbourne, who are looking to retain the championship after winning it for the second time last year.
Players to watch: Deadly in both set-pieces situations and open play, Melbourne forward Carlos Hernandez is equally adept at laying on goals for his team-mates. Fortunately for Sydney, they have a similarly gifted striker of their own in Alex Brosque.
Algerian Premier League frontrunners MC Alger have just booked their place in the cup quarter-finals and return to league duties with a home fixture against lowly CA Batna.
Newly promoted Vegalta Sendai are the surprise pacesetters after two rounds of games in the Japanese J-League and will defend their 100 per cent record at Kyoto Sanga. In the big game of the day, Yokohama F Marinos take on Kawasaki Frontale, with Frontale’s Korea DPR striker Jong Tese looking to steal the show from local hero Shunsuke Nakamura.