Something for everyone
While Europe and Africa's finest continue to prepare for the new season, and Asia's clubs enjoy their break on the domestic front, the Americas are the place to be for quality league football this weekend. And as FIFA.com reveals, the region's various championships are compensating for the lack of action elsewhere by throwing up plenty of intriguing issues.
Mexican Apertura: The heat is rising
Although none of the sides who won their opening games meet this weekend, Matchday 2 of the Apertura 2008 has much to offer. Atlante, who lead the way in Group 1, will try to put Wednesday's North American Superliga elimination behind them when they host Monarcas.
Atlas, the early pacesetters in Group 3, are at home to Clausura finalists Cruz Azul, while the three frontrunners in Group 2 all face awkward assignments, with America visiting Toluca, Pumas heading to Santos Laguna and Tecos entertaining the mighty Guadalajara.
Big game: After crashing out of the Superliga on Tuesday, Pachuca are sure to face a stiff examination from San Luis, one of the revelations of the recent Clausura campaign.
Player to watch: The subject of fevered transfer speculation, the much-coveted Guillermo Ochoa could be making his last appearance in the America goal against Toluca this weekend.
American Major League Soccer: All change at the top?
Having seen their seemingly-comfortable cushion at the top of the Eastern Conference whittled down to just two points, New England Revolution have to make the most of their home game against New York Red Bulls on Sunday. Closest pursuers Columbus Crew face a much trickier proposition when they travel to Houston to take on the fast-improving Dynamos. A win for the Texans, who lie second in the Western Conference, would take them to within a point of leaders Real Salt Lake, who are without a game this weekend.
Big game: Dogged by inconsistent form, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA meet in the Windy City and have no option but to go for the win if they are to keep their post-season play-off hopes intact.
Player to watch: Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando has just been named MLS Player of the Month for July after keeping three clean sheets in his last four outings.
Brasileirão: Summit meetings
Sunday should be quite a day in Brazil with the top four sides in the table crossing swords. Leaders Gremio will be seeking to extend their seven-game unbeaten run when they play host to Vitoria, who have surprised everyone by climbing to third. Second-placed Cruzeiro face a trip to the Maracana to take on a faltering Flamengo side that has dropped from top to fourth after going five games without a win.
Big game: The clash between Sao Paulo and Vasco da Gama at the Morumbi has a mouth-watering look about it. O Tricolor Paulista lie sixth, on the fringe of the Copa Libertadores places, while Vasco boosted their morale with a big midweek win and need another three points to stay out of the relegation mire.
Player to watch: Kleber Pereira struck a hat-trick of penalties against Vasco last Sunday to take his tally for the season to ten, good enough for a share of top spot on the scoring chart. The in-form Santos forward has the chance to swell his personal account against Curitiba this weekend.
It is Matchday 2 of the new Clausura down in Paraguay. A total of five sides claimed maximum points in their season openers, among them reigning champions Libertad, who travel to 3 de Febrero on Saturday. Guarani take on Sportivo Luqueno in the only duel between teams who won last weekend, while the two other sides on three points, 12 de Octubre and Sol de America, face big guns Cerro Porteno and Olimpia respectively.
The Costa Rican championship, which also kicked off seven days ago, throws up an interesting clash between early Group A pacemakers Saprissa and Perez Zeledon, their counterparts in Group B. Alajuelense make their league entrance on Sunday against Herediano, the third of the three outfits to win their opening match.