The end is nigh
The fans are becoming restless and the players are hardly faring any better. The leagues in Europe may be slowly lumbering towards their halfway point, but many championships around the world are gearing up to crown a winner.
The teams at the top will be hoping to take a step closer to glory this weekend, so join FIFA.com as we shine a spotlight on upcoming events from Brazil to Korea Republic, stopping off in Argentina, China PR and Japan along the way.
Primera A (Argentina): Lanus planning to stay out in front
Currently enjoying a three-point lead over Boca Juniors, the surprise frontrunners from southern Buenos Aires have an excellent chance to close in on the title this weekend. There are just four matches left to play and Ramon Cabrero's young side travel to face basement-outfit Rosario Central, where they will be targeting victory to keep their noses in front ahead of the showdown with Boca in two weeks' time.
For their part, the
Xeneizes entertain Velez Sarsfield and their old coach
Ricardo La Volpe. The former Mexico trainer will find his
predecessor at Velez, Miguel Russo, barking instructions from the
opposition bench, after the two men travelled in opposite
directions this January.
La question: Having never pulled off a win against Boca at La Bombonera since joining Velez, will La Volpe be able to lift that curse this weekend?
Serie A (Brazil): Libertadores places on offer
Sao Paulo have already been crowned champions for the second time in two years, so the real intrigue in Brazil concerns qualification for the Copa Libertadores and the race for survival at the bottom. As every year, the top four teams at the end of the season earn berths in South America's elite tournament, and with three games left to contest the tension is rising.
The champions already have their ticket, as do Fluminense due to their Cup success, but no fewer than seven clubs still have their eye on a place. Two of them lock horns in the 36th round of fixtures, with fourth-placed Flamengo taking on second-placed Santos, and Rio de Janeiro's legendary Maracana stadium is sure to be filled to the rafters for the high-profile affair. An average of 70,000 spectators have attended Flamengo's last three home games, in fact.
The question: In real trouble at the wrong end of
the table and scheduled to meet relegation rivals Goias, can mythic
outfit Corinthians save themselves from the drop?
Super League (China PR): Crossing the finishing line
With merely two matches left on the calendar, any point won now could prove crucial on the final day - especially since leaders Beijing Guo'an (51 points) have played a game more than their closest pursuers, Changchun Yatai (49) and Shandong Luneng (47). Not in action this weekend, Beijing will no doubt be keeping close tabs on events elsewhere, with Changchun hosting Wuhan Guanggu and Shandong absolutely desperate for success at home to Zhejiang Lucheng. The defending champions simply cannot afford to slip up ahead of their trip to Beijing in the middle of next week.
The question: Can Changchun Yatai take themselves to the Super League summit on the penultimate day of the season?
J-League Division 1 (Japan): Gamba Osaka still believing
Despite trailing Urawa Red Diamonds by seven points, Gamba fans have complete faith in their heroes. In sparkling form since their recent Nabisco Cup victory, the Osaka outfit seem well-placed to worry the leaders right up until the end. Everything remains possible too, with 12 points available from four outings and Gamba unlikely to fail at home to 11th-placed JEF United Chiba this weekend.
The question : Will Urawa Red Diamonds be crowned champions after the upcoming round of matches? For that to happen, they need to triumph away to Kawasaki Frontale, while hoping Gamba lose and Kashima Antlers fail to win at Yokohama F. Marinos.
K-League (Korea Republic): Pohang so close
Having overcome Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 3-1 in the first leg of the championship play-off final last week, Pohang Steelers are in a strong position to capture their fourth K-League title since 1992. Meanwhile, Seongnam are sure to rely on two key men as they set out to complete the 3-0 victory they need (away goals not counting double): playmaker Kim Do-Heon and Brazilian striker Itamar.
The question : Will Pohang become the first team to become champions after finishing the regular season in fifth place?
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