FIFA World Cup™ qualification will render domestic championships on hold in Africa and Asia this weekend. There will be, however, plenty of club football across the Americas, where the battle for ascendancy will take centre stage in Brazil, Canada and the USA, and titles could be and will be seized in Argentina and Uruguay respectively. FIFA.com looks ahead to the forthcoming action.
Argentinian Clausura: River in control
Ten points from their last four matches may have lifted River Plate two points clear atop of the standings, but they will receive the form team in the division in its penultimate round. Olimpo will be chasing their sixth win in seven matches at the Monumental, although keeping Diego Buonanotte and Ariel Ortega in check will be no easy task.
Second-placed Estudiantes will be hoping Los Aurinegros run out winners, which would enable them to assume the driving seat with victory at home to Colon.
Big game: In a duel of the competition's two
lowest-scoring teams, Racing Club, one of Argentina's most
popular and successful clubs, desperately need a win at home to
mid-table Huracan to stave off the threat of relegation.
Players to watch: Juan Sebastian Veron is enjoying something of an Indian summer at Estudiantes, but Colon's Ruben Ramirez, who has scored eight goals in Colon's last eight games, will be out to spoil La Brujita's weekend.
Brasileiro: Leaders eye landmark
Cruzeiro will enter Round 5 striving to equal their finest-ever start to a Brasileiro campaign and remain top of the table. Fourth-placed Vasco will have their work cut out denying the side with the most prolific attack and meanest defence these distinctions, although Edmundo and Leandro Amaral do possess the talent to provoke an upset at the Mineirao.
That is exactly what Flamengo will want from their arch-rivals. Level on points with Cruzeiro, O Mengão will play Figueirense helped by the roar of the Maracana but hindered by the absences of Renato Augusto and Diego Tardelli.
Big game: With 21 victories apiece in direct
confrontations, winless Sao Paulo and unbeaten Atletico Mineiro
will be out to assume the head-to-head ascendancy.
Players to watch: The performances of two in-form veterans, Sport's Leandro Machado and Alex Mineiro of Palmeiras, could be crucial to the outcome of their contest.
Uruguayan Clausura: Winner takes all
Equilibrium has characterised the battle between Penarol and River Plate. They shared four goals in their solitary head-to-head contest and finished level on points after the full 15 rounds.
The Montevideo sides will be split on Sunday, nevertheless, when they collide in a play-off for the Clausura prize. Having scored 48 and 40 times respectively during their 15 outings to date, a thrilling climax to their personal duel ensues.
Big game: The winners of the play-off at the
Centenario will go on to face Apertura champions Defensor Sporting,
whom they must then overcome to force a meeting with the same
opponents in the 2007/08 season's overall final.
Players to watch: Uruguayan internationals Carlos Bueno and Fabian Estoyanoff could hold the key to a Penarol triumph, while Jorge Zambrana and Diego Silva will carry the hopes of the River fans on their shoulders.
American Major League Soccer: Leadership on the
The Western Conference leadership will be at stake the top two going into round encounter on Saturday. With Argentinian playmaker Christian Gomez and Scottish forward Tom McManus high on confidence, Colorado Rapids will look to consolidate their position at the summit, while David Beckham and Landon Donovan, provided he can shake off a groin strain, will aim to inspire Los Angeles Galaxy to a home victory which would take them two points clear of their opponents.
A draw in California would suit Houston Dynamo, who would consequently assume pole position with victory over visiting Toronto FC on Sunday.
Big game: Columbus Crew will hope a first success
in four games can lift them from third to first in the Eastern
Conference, but San Jose Earthquakes will be eager to improve the
MLS' worst record.
Players to watch: Will high-flying Chicago Fire's Cuauhtemoc Blanco make DC United his latest victim, or can fellow veteran Marcelo Gallardo help kick-start the Eastern Conference tailenders' season?
Canadian Soccer League: Duel of the champions
The 2008 season may be in its early stages, but Sunday's battle between the 2006 and 2007 champions is sure to set pulses racing. Italia Shooters posted the campaign's biggest victory, 4-0 over London City, last weekend to tighten their grip on first place in the International Division, and they will seek another fruitful return from their Maple fortress against holders Toronto Croatia.
The result will interest Serbian White Eagles, who will go in search of points at St. Catharines Wolves.
Big game: National Division outfit Windsor Border
Stars will look to continue their impressive start at home to
Players to watch: All eyes will be on North York Astros stand-out Sergio Ribadeneira and his Brampton Lions counterpart Daniel Nascimento when they run out at the Esther Shiner Stadium.