There are big matches all over Europe this weekend with teams who finished in the top three last season coming face to face in England, Germany and Spain. Nowhere though will the stakes be as high as at Old Trafford where Manchester United entertain a Chelsea team under new management.
La Liga: Catalans must close gap
Barcelona enjoyed a 3-0 win in the UEFA Champions League this week, while in the same competition Sevilla lost by the same score, but it is Frank Rijkaard who finds himself under pressure as the Catalan club try and make up lost ground in La Liga.
Top three: Real Madrid (9 pts), Sevilla (6),
Bottom three: Recreativo (2 pts), Getafe (1) Levante (1)
The keys: Villarreal's only other home game
this season resulted in a 5-0 defeat by Real Madrid. If they can
forget that and find the form which has brought them successive
away wins against visitors Murcia then they can move alongside
Real, who visit Valladolid, at the top.
The question: Now that Thierry Henry has opened his account for Barcelona will they begin to show something of their best form in La Liga?
The big game: Barcelona vs. Sevilla, Saturday 22:00 CET, Nou Camp.
The prediction: After splashing out millions of euros on new strikers in the summer, Atletico Madrid would have expected a better start to the season. The home game with Racing Santander offers the chance to improve on their two points from nine so far.
The number: 50, the number of years since Barcelona began playing football at the Nou Camp.
The absentees: Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Canizares has a thigh strain so Timo Hildebrand is likely to make his first league start at Real Betis.
The quote: "I think Ronaldinho is capable of doing the things he did in the past. There are actions and reactions, and sometimes you have to suffer. But when there's a reaction he's a phenomenal player," Frank Rijkaard, Barcelona coach.
Premiership: Rude welcome awaits Grant
Manchester United vs. Chelsea is a huge game in any context, but in the light of this week's turmoil at Stamford Bridge and the surprise departure of Jose Mourinho it takes on even more significance. It is a baptism of fire for new Chelsea manager Avraham Grant.
Top three: Arsenal (13 pts), Manchester City (12),
Bottom three: Reading (4 pts), Derby County (4) Bolton Wanderers (3)
The keys: The presence of Manchester City in the
top four of the Premiership is crucial if England is not going to
witness another private battle featuring the usual suspects. With
an away game at struggling Fulham, City could dislodge Arsenal from
The question: Arsenal's failing last season was a lack of consistency. After five unbeaten games in the league and this week's winning outing in the UEFA Champions League there has been no sign of similar fault lines re-occurring.
The big game: Manchester United v Chelsea, 15:30 CET Sunday, Old Trafford.
The prediction: The race for UEFA Cup places starts early in the Premiership - such is the domination of the 'big four'. That makes Aston Villa vs. Everton, Blackburn vs. Portsmouth and Newcastle United vs. West Ham United important fixtures.
The number: 0, the goals Liverpool have conceded this season other than penalties.
The absentees: Jose Mourinho: colourful and frequently controversial, the Portuguese coach will be missed from the English game.
The quote: "I'm a person of my own, if we lose, it's down to me. I have full respect for what Jose Mourinho did in the past but football is also entertainment," Avraham Grant, Chelsea's new coach.
Ligue 1: Marseille look for happy reunions
Marseille were one of only three Ligue 1 sides to win in Europe this week and they will be hoping that the 2-0 victory over Besiktas in the UEFA Champions League provides the fillip to get their domestic form back in shape after winning only one of their first eight games. They go to Auxerre in a match that features several reunions - home coach Jean Fernandez was in charge of Marseille two years ago, while Djibril Cisse returns to the club where he started his career.
Top three: Nancy (16 pts), Lyon (15), Bordeaux
Bottom three: Caen (4 pts), Sochaux (4), Metz (2)
The keys: Metz can climb away from 20th position
and imperil Caen when the two sides meet in Normandy.
The question: Will leaders Nancy, who lost for the first time last weekend, maintain their perfect home record against a Lorient side who are themselves unbeaten on the road, winning one and drawing three of their games?
The big game: Valenciennes (5th) v Monaco (6th), Saturday 20:00 CET, Stade Nungesser.
The prediction: If Nancy slip up again then Lyon, with victory over Lille, could go into pole position as they hunt a seventh straight Ligue 1 title success.
The number: 5, the number of successive victories that Lyon can reach this weekend.
The absentees: Julien Rodriguez, Marseille's vice-captain is suspended and misses the game at Auxerre.
The quote: "Everything is not perfect and we have a lot of work to do and my players know that but we have a good team that is capable of great things", Albert Emon, Marseille coach.
Bundesliga: Bayern must get back on track
With successive 1-1 draws in the Bundesliga and a narrow victory in the UEFA Cup that left their supporters decidedly underwhelmed, leaders Bayern Munich are not quite the all-conquering force that they appeared in the early weeks of the season. With a visit this weekend to Karlsruhe, who have won three of their five league games so far, the Bavarian giants are sure to be given another serious examination.
Top three: Bayern Munich (11 pts), Arminia Bielefeld (10), Eintracht Frankfurt (10)
Bottom three: Wolfsburg (4 pts), Energie Cottbus (2), Hansa Rostock (0)
The keys: Hansa Rostock have to start picking up points if they are not going to be cut adrift at the bottom. The home game with Duisburg is the kind they must be looking to win.
The question: Hertha Berlin and Borussia Dortmund have each won their last two Bundesliga matches. Something will have to give in the capital as two in-form sides meet.
The big game: Werder Bremen v Stuttgart, 15:30 CET Saturday, Weserstadion.
The prediction: Stuttgart, last season's champions, lie half-way but trail leaders Bayern by only four points. A first away win could put them right back in contention.
The number: 5, the number of goals Hertha Berlin have scored in the last 30 minutes of their matches.
The absentees: Thomas Hitzlsperger is once again missing for Stuttgart at Werder Bremen.
The quote: "Expectations in Berlin are always beyond the pale. To put a squad at the top of the table requires either a whole lot of money or time and good work", Hertha Berlin managing director Dieter Hoeness.
Serie A: Roma's run under threat
Roma defend the league's only remaining 100 per cent record with a home game against Juventus, who until last weekend had made a perfect start themselves. After three successive league wins, Luciano Spalletti's side then went out and impressed against Dynamo Kiev in the UEFA Champions League.
Top three: Roma (9 pts), Inter Milan (7), Napoli
Bottom three: Livorno (1 pt), Empoli (1), Siena (1)
The keys: Sampdoria, half-way in the table after gaining four points from their first three games, can make progress if they win their city derby game at home to newly-promoted Genoa.
The question: Will Juventus, with the benefit of a free week, bounce back to form after last Sunday's surprise home defeat by Udinese?
The big game: Roma (1st) v Juventus (4th), Sunday 14:00 CET, Olympic Stadium
The prediction: If Roma slip up then Inter Milan, who are away to bottom side Livorno, will take over at the top with a victory.
The number: 0, the number of goals opposition players have scored against Inter in Serie A this season. The only goal they have conceded was an own goal by Ivan Cordoba.
The absentees: Fitness problems will again prevent Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano from making his league debut following his loan move from Real Madrid.
The quote: "We have a more technical, creative group this year - Roma are becoming Brazilian," Mancini, Roma forward.