World Leagues preview
The ongoing battle for supremacy between top dogs Fluminense and Corinthians continues in Brazil this weekend, with the derby between old foes Boca Juniors and Racing Club taking the limelight in Argentina, where River Plate take on Huracan in the next instalment of their fight against relegation. Previewing those meetings and more, including the latest round of games in Mexico and the USA, FIFA.com looks ahead to the weekend action in the major leagues outside Europe.
Brasileirao: No room for error
Only 13 games have gone in Brazil and already Fluminense and Corinthians are threatening to make it a two-horse race. Just one point separates the top two, although Flu, who are unbeaten in ten, have a golden opportunity to extend their lead this weekend. Bolstered by the sparkling form of Dario Conca, Muricy Ramalho’s men play host to an Internacional side with one eye on the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final, while Corinthians face a tricky trip to Florianopolis to take on Avai.
High stakes: Taking on Cruzeiro in a repeat of their Libertadores quarter-final meeting, Sao Paulo are intent on bringing their crisis to an end. New coach Sergio Baresi’s maiden outing is the club’s first since midfielder Hernanes’ departure to Lazio. Making his debut for A Raposa is Argentinian attacking midfielder Walter Montillo.
Ones to watch: After starring for Brazil in the week, young guns Paulo Henrique and Neymar return to domestic duty for Santos against Vitoria, the team O Peixe beat in the final of the Copa do Brasil a fortnight ago.
Argentinian Apertura: Pressure on River
Matchday two in Argentina features only one game between the seven sides who won their opening encounters: Huracan-River Plate. With relegation being decided by the number of points collected over a three-year period, Los Millonarios face a battle to stay up this season after some dismal campaigns of late.
Making their trip to the Estadio Tomas Adolfo Duco even more enticing is the fact that they are now coached by former Huracan boss Angel Cappa. Cappa it was who steered El Globo to the runners-up slot in the 2009 Clausura, his enterprising side winning admirers across the nation with their attractive brand of football and making him a legend among Huracan fans, a status that will be put to the test on Sunday.
High stakes: Saturday’s big game is unquestionably the Buenos Aires derby between Boca Juniors and Racing Club, Claudio Borghi’s first game in charge of Los Xeneizes at La Bombonera. Held to a 1-1 draw at Godoy Cruz last week, Boca will be anxious to get a win under their belts against a Racing side who beat All Boys in their opener and are set to unveil their new Colombian midfielder Giovanni Moreno.
One to watch: Velez Sarsfield’s top scorer in their 2009 Apertura triumph, Santiago Silva is still on a roll, hitting the only goal in last Sunday’s win over Independiente. The Uruguayan hitman has more goals in his sights when El Fortín visit All Boys this weekend.
American Major League Soccer: East meets west
It is a special weekend in MLS with the leaders in each conference taking on the second-placed sides in the other. Western pacesetters Los Angeles Galaxy travel to New York Red Bulls, while Columbus Crew, who lead the way in the East are at Real Salt Lake, a match that pits together the last two league champions.
High stakes: There will be plenty of stars on show in New York on Saturday. Lighting up the Galaxy will be Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, with Red Bulls’ new signings from Barcelona, Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, out to eclipse them.
One to watch: FC Dallas goal machine Jeff Cunningham is closing the gap on MLS all-time top scorer Jaime Moreno. After going nine games without a goal Cunningham struck twice in last week’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia Union, taking his championship tally to 127, just five behind the DC United target man, who has announced he will be leaving the club at the end of the year.
Mexican Apertura: Group 2 with it all to do
The six sides making up Group 2 in the Mexican Primera Division have struggled for points in the opening three rounds, with only America and Pachuca managing solitary wins to date. In contrast, the Group 1 sextet have amassed eight victories and the members of Group 3 ten.
High stakes: The only side in the land with a 100 per cent record, Santos Laguna have also outscored everyone by hitting 11 goals. Los Guerreros will put that record to the test at home to Jaguares on Saturday evening.
Ones to watch: Still without a win, 2010 Bicentenario winners Toluca will be hoping to kick-start their campaign at home to Tigres. However, if their start to last season is anything to go by, they still have plenty of margin for error. Winless in their opening five games, Toluca still went on to take the title.
The second round of matches in the Australian A-League has already begun, with Wellington Phoenix and Gold Coast United playing out a 3-3 draw on Friday. Central Coast Mariners, last week’s only winners, are at home to Adelaide United on Sunday, while defending champs Sydney travel to North Queensland Fury, and Melbourne Heart, the only side without a point, take on Newcastle Jets.
The battle for the Japanese J-League has reached the halfway stage, with three sides having broken away at the top. Unbeaten in their last six, frontrunners Shimizu S-Pulse are a point clear of Nagoya Grampus Eight and two ahead of Kashima Antlers, and defend their lead at home to mid-table Yokohama F Marinos. The chasing Nagoya and Kashima have respective home dates against Urawa Red Diamonds and FC Tokyo.