World Leagues preview
Can the chasing pack close on Estudiantes in Argentina? Will Cruzeiro or Fluminense finish the weekend on top in Brazil? How will the meeting between group leaders end in Mexico? Can Colorado Rapids snatch the last remaining play-off place in the USA? Which unbeaten records will fall in South Africa? Will Muang Thong United defend their crown in Thailand? These are just some of the questions set to be answered. FIFA.com sets the scene.
Argentinian Apertura: Top five hit the road
Estudiantes, five points clear at the summit, will strive to win at Colon and hope for a favour from arch-rivals Gimnasia, who will seek to soothe their troubles with victory at home to high-flying Arsenal. The Sarandi side share second place with Velez Sarsfield, who will entrust the competition’s joint-leading marksmen, Juan Martinez and Santiago Silva, with firing them to success at winless Quilmes.
Fourth-placed Lanus are away to rock-bottom Olimpo, while Newell’s Old Boys visit Banfield in a meeting between fifth and ninth.
High stakes: Godoy Cruz and River Plate are level on points, four shy of second place. Los Millonarios have drawn their last three, and will charge Rogelio Funes Mori with thrusting them to a first win in five in Mendoza, while the hosts will look to the on-song David Ramirez.
Players to watch: Will Arsenal forward Luciano Leguizamon, who left Gimnasia in acrimonious circumstances in 2007, return to haunt his former employers, or will the day belong to veteran goalkeeper Gaston Sessa?
Brasileirao: In-form duo set for Olimpico duel
Four successive clean sheets from Fabio, and the invention of Walter Montillo, have propelled Cruzeiro into pole position. They will, however, face a fierce examination at Gremio, who have taken 13 points from a possible 15 to climb eighth and, in Jonas, boast a man who has struck ten goals in his last eight outings.
Fluminense, who fell from the summit last weekend, will look to respond against a Botafogo side that have drawn their last seven matches, while Corinthians, five points off the pace in third, will aim for a first win in six at 13th-placed Guarani.
High stakes: Flamengo have seized four points from a possible six since Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s appointment to go five clear of the relegation zone, while fifth-placed International need a win to maintain their title challenge.
Players to watch: Lucas’s trickery has helped Sao Paulo take seven points from nine and jump tenth, while Neymar’s return to form has been crucial to Santos posting three straight victories that have taken them six points off the pace. Which of the 18-year-old sensations will emerge the happier in their Morumbi clássico?
Mexican Apertura: Pool pacesetters poised for battle
Monterrey will defend their unique unbeaten record at home to Toluca in a scrap between the respective leaders of Groups 1 and 2. The former, thanks to the goalkeeping of Jonathan Orozco and a defence marshalled by Ricardo Osorio, have conceded just once in their past five matches, while Los Diablos Rojos have failed to score in their past two.
Cruz Azul, in the Group 3 driving seat, will welcome high-flying Santos Laguna to the capital, while their two closest challengers in the section, Jaguares and Pumas, collide in the latter’s Estadio Olimpico Universitario.
High stakes: Estudiantes Tecos and Atlas possess just nine and eight points respectively from 11 rounds. Both will be desperate for a victory in Zapopan that would resuscitate their play-off hopes.
Players to watch: Santos striker Cristian Benitez, the competition’s leading marksman, and Cruz Azul playmaker Cristian Gimenez have been two of the campaign’s leading lights.
South African Premiership: All eyes on Mamelodi and Cape Town
Leaders Mamelodi Sundowns will host fellow unbeaten outfit Orlando Pirates, with the battle between Bafana Bafana team-mates Katlego Mphela and Teko Modise likely to be crucial to the outcome.
Ajax Cape Town and Santos, second and fifth respectively, will contest their derby, while Kaizer Chiefs will expect to build on seven points from nine at home to Platinum Stars.
High stakes: Golden Arrows, three points behind the Sundowns, will host a Bloemfontein Celtic side three points behind them.
Players to watch: The Chiefs will hope 20-year-old Knowledge Musona can maintain his impressive start to the campaign against a Stars side spearheaded by fellow Zimbabwean forward Terrence Mandaza.
Los Angeles Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes have all qualified for the Major League Soccer play-offs, and Colorado Rapids need just a point to join them. Gary Smith's side will look for that at the Galaxy, while Kansas City Wizards, the only side that can stop them, visit a New England Revolution team with nothing but pride to play for.
Muang Thong United will retain the Thai Premier League title if they emerge victorious in the penultimate round, and while they have Ivorian forward Siaka Dagno in irresistible form, it will not be easy away to a Samut Songkhram side that have won five of their last six. Chonburi and Buriram PEA, the only two sides who can catch the defending champions, will square off.