World Leagues preview
Fluminense, Los Angeles Galaxy and Gyeongnam will hope to consolidate their leadership in the Brasilerao, Major League Soccer and the K-League respectively at the weekend, and there are five 100 per cent records to protect in Argentina. With Nagoya Grampus’s J.League credentials being tested and a new season getting underay in Morocco, FIFA.com previews the forthcoming action.
Argentinian Apertura: Derby day
No fewer than five teams have maximum points going into Round 3, which features two enticing clásicos: Racing Club-San Lorenzo and River Plate-Independiente. Buoyed by last week’s win at the Bombonera, La Academia will be confident of making it three wins out of three against El Ciclón, who drew both their opening games. Having kicked off with two wins for the first time since 2007, River take on Independiente without the suspended Ariel Ortega. El Rojo have beaten River on only two occasions at the Monumental in the last 14 years, the most recent of those wins coming in the 2009 Apertura.
Big game: Something has to give in the game between the last Apertura champions Banfield and Copa Libertadores 2009 winners Estudiantes, two more members of the quintet with perfect records to date.
Player to watch: A self-confessed River Plate fan, Cristian Fabbiani has recovered from injury and is ready to make his debut for All Boys against none other than Boca Juniors. Can the striker, a former Millonarios player, help El Albo secure their first win of the season against a Boca side still to taste victory under Claudio Borghi?
Brasileirao: Title battle continues
Fluminense travel to Vasco da Gama intent on cementing their position at the top. Four points behind lie Corinthians, who will need to be on their guard when they entertain Sao Paulo. There should be quite a party at the Beira-Rio as newly-crowned Copa Libertadores champions Internacional entertain bottom club Atletico Goianense, while mid-table Santos, still licking their wounds following their Copa Sudamericana elimination, play host to lowly Atletico Mineiro.
Big game: Avai climbed into third last weekend courtesy of a fine win over Corinthians, a position they will be hoping to protect when they visit Botafogo, who lie just one point and one place behind them.
Player to watch: Bruno Cesar scored twice in Corinthians' defeat at Avai and is the season’s top scorer with eight goals. The attacking midfielder will be looking to swell his account against Sao Paulo and increase his chances of gaining a place in Brazil’s next squad, to be announced by his former coach Mano Menezes next Friday.
Major League Soccer: Opportunities knock for Fire and Galaxy
After staging a fine comeback to down New England Revolution 2-1 in the week, Chicago Fire - now fourth in the Eastern Conference with games in hand - will be out to keep the momentum going when they visit Houston Dynamo. With closest challengers Real Salt Lake taking the weekend off, Western Conference leaders Los Angeles Galaxy can extend their advantage if they win at San Jose Earthquakes.
Big game: Second meets third in the east when New York Red Bulls visit Toronto FC in a match featuring three former stars of La Liga. Leading the line for the Canadians will be former Valencia striker Mista, with ex-Barcelona duo Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry now plying their trade for the New Yorkers. The two sides met just ten days ago, the Red Bulls securing a 1-0 win.
Player to watch: Though he failed to score on his return from injury, Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey did enough in last weekend’s stalemate with Philadelphia Union to please coach Gary Smith, who is hoping his mobility and eye for goal can help them overcome Eastern Conference pasesetters Columbus Crew.
Korean K-League: Gyeongnam gunning for more
Season revelations Gyeongnam entertain Chunnam Dragons with the incentive of bolstering their three-point cushion at the top. After scoring on his international debut last week, midfielder Yoon Bitgaram will be out to find the net for the fourth game running for his club. Chasing duo Jeju United and Jeonbuk Motors have respective engagements against Busan I'Park and Daejeon Citizen.
FC Seoul are looking to become the first South Korean club to win 11 home games on the trot. If this weekend’s opponents Gangwon are to stop them, they will have to do so without their exciting new signing, Uzbekistan midfielder Server Djeparov.
Big game: Seongnam Chunma, in fourth, and sixth-placed Ulsan Horangi have the chance to move into the top three when they meet on Saturday.
Player to watch: Now in his second season with Incheon United, forward Yoo Byung-Soo is the league’s leading marksman with 12 goals, a tally he will hope to augment when United visit Pohang Steelers.
Japanese J.League leaders Nagoya Grampus had their advantage cut to two points after a heavy 4-0 defeat at Kawasaki Frontale in midweek and will be aiming to get back on track at home to sixth-placed Gamba Osaka. Now only three points off the pace in fourth, Kawasaki travel to Albirex Niigata, while Kashima Antlers, second on goal difference, are at home to Cerezo Osaka and third-placed Shimizu S-Pulse face a testing assignment at Jubilo Iwata.
In the Mexican Apertura, Group 1 leaders Santos Laguna make the trip to Tigres, while second-placed Monterrey are at Pachuca, for whom Argentinian Pablo Marini has just taken over as coach. America, who lead the way in Group 2 with only five points, take on Queretaro, and Cruz Azul, top dogs in Group 3, are at Jaguares.
The Moroccan Botola rolls into action on Friday evening with Chabab Kasba Tadla taking on FAR Rabat in the season’s curtain-raiser. Reigning champions WAC Casablanca visit MA Tetouan on Sunday.