Last week one match overshadowed the rest, something that tends to happen when Manchester United and Arsenal meet, particularly when it's in a knock-out competition. This week there's another marquee match in the English Premier League, though the product of Chelsea and Manchester City's styles may not be to everyone's liking.
Thankfully, the weekend offers a number of options. The world's greatest inner-city derby takes place on Friday, though the weekend will also feature prominent local rivalries in Madrid, Copenhagen and Asunción. The two most popular teams in France meet on Sunday at Stade Vélodrome, while a visit of a Ukrainian hegemon to an ambitious upstart will give us a reading on the state of the league's duopoly.
The rest of our list are old fashioned, championship influencing games - matches were the significance is defined by table. Here are this weekend's 10 Matches to Watch (in chronological order):
Galatasaray versus Fenerbahçe, Turkish Süper Lig, Friday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, Türk Telekom Arena, Istanbul
Inner-city rivalries in Glasgow, Rome, São Paulo - even Belgrade - have qualities that keep them in best city derbies in the world debate. Most of those aspects center around atmosphere: intensity, passion, local significance. Derbies in Istanbul and Glasgow, however, dominate their country's football landscape like the Derby della Capitalle and Derby Paulista never could. While Rangers and Celtic's continental profiles would attract many to Glasgow's derby, the East (Fener) versus West, working class (again, Fener) versus elites atmosphere gives Turkey's biggest rivalry its edge.
So we're going to give this match the full treatment: A preview, in-match coverage, and the some form of a wrap-up. As such, we'll have more information on this match at another time, in another place, but for now, an introduction to the rivalry:
Atlético Madrid versus Real Madrid, Spanish Primera División, Saturday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Vincente Calderón Stadium, Madrid
Another inner-city derby, but because of the rivalry Real Madrid has with Barcelona, the Derbi Madrileño is perpetually overlooked. It would help if Atlético hadn't spent most of the last three seasons approaching La Liga the same way a temp approaches filing.
Perversely, that only adds to the quirky nature of this rivalry. Atlético is always going to be a shunned Prince sitting in the shadow its King brother. They're the William to Real Madrid's Harry, the scowl-wearing boy whose parents always demanded he lose childhood games to his brother. And when they awkwardly still play the same games at family gatherings - be it cricket, badminton, yachts, whatever rich people do - you watch. You watch because you know that every once in a while, the little brother becomes spiteful, goes crazy, and decides to show everybody that he could have been King.
The last time that happened: October 29, 1999.
Libertad versus Olimpia, Parguayan Division Profesional, Saturday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Estadio Léoz, Asunción
These are two of the three most successful clubs in Paraguayan futbol history, but although Libertad won 2010's Clausura, Olimpia has not added to their record 38 titles since 2010. This year could be different, with Olimpia already out to a seven point lead after nine matches. Libertad is best situated to catch La O, nine back with three matches in hand, though a loss Sunday will force them to focus on Copa Libertadores.
Players to watch: Pablo Zeballos has eight goals in nine for Olimpia, while Paraguayan international Victor Caceras will be crucial in the heart of midfield for Libertad .
Monterrey versus América, Mexican Primera Division, Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, Technológico, Monterrey
With the defending champions against the most popular (and most hated) club in the league, this match is like Inter Milan going to Turin to face Juventus, if Juve were good. América is good (kinda), sitting at the top of Mexico's second group.
Of course, Monterrey is no slouch, coming off the Apertura title and a victory in CONCACAF Champions League over Cruz Azul. The Rayados need a result to keep-up with their group-leading rivals, Tigres, who have a somewhat easy Friday match at Tecos.
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk versus Dynamo Kiev, Sunday, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, Dnipro Stadium, Dnipropetrovsk
Here's why you should care about this match (even though it's not going to have any effect on this season's Premier League):
Ukraine is a duopoly, with Shakhtar Donetsk (nine points clear) and Dynamo Kiev having occupied the league's top two spots every year since 1995-96. Dnipro is making a commitment to compete with the rulers. They've brought in Juande Ramos. They've brought in Giuliano (Internacional), Nelson Rivas (Internazionale), Samuel Inkoom (Basel), and Matheus (Braga).
On paper, Dnipro is still a step behind the league's top two, but after Sunday, we'll at least have an idea of how far DD has to go.
Chelsea versus Manchester City, English Premier League, Sunday, 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Stamford Bridge, London
With these teams sitting fourth and third in the English Premier League, one guaranteed winner from this match will be Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs sit fifth in league, a path leading to 2011-12's Europa League. Should Spurs beat West Ham on Saturday, they'll finish the weekend no worse than two points out of a Champions League spot.
If Chelsea loses, Spurs have a chance to be joint fourth, and with the Blues having dropped their last three meetings against City, a loss seems the likely outcome. When you consider the team Carlo Ancelotti's likely to choose on Sunday, the Blues don't seem to have any new answers. Their best hope may be an empty gas tank for Carlos Tévez, the Argentine having scored four goals in the clubs' last three meetings.
FC Copenhagen versus Brønby, Danish Superliga, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Parken, Copenhagen
Copenhagen on their way to a third straight Superliga title, carrying an ominous 19-point lead into Sunday's derby. The last team to take three straight titles was Brønby, who set a league record with 76 points while completing their treble in 1997-98. At the time, a six-year-old Copenhagen club had won one title - in their inaugural season. Since, Copenhagen's won seven titles to Brønby's two.
FCK will likely break the 76-point record, a mark they matched in 2006-07. They're currently on pace for 85 points, a pace that leaves Brønby trying to erase their one point deficit on second place Odense.
Al Hilal versus Al Ittihad, Saudi Arabian Pro League, Sunday, 1:30 p.m. Eastern, King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
The Saudi league is overlooked by most of the world, and not without reason. Without streams, you probably have no access to it. With teams limited to four foreign players, most names are unknown.
Yet a meeting between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad is still list-worthy. These clubs have combined for 20 of 34 league titles (including the last four) and have taken turns making runs in the last two AFC Champions Leagues. They're first and second in league this season, though with Al Hilal holding a five-point league, Al Ittihad has little chance of preventing a Zaeem repeat unless they get three in Riyadh.
Players to watch: For Al Hilal, South Korean Lee Young-Pyo is the most recognizable name, but 2007 Asian Player of the Year Yassar Al-Qahtani is their best player. The 28-year-old captain has 10 goals in 10 matches. For Ittihad, 22-year-old Naif Hazzazi has 11 in 17, the beneficiary of a midfield featuring Portugal's Nuno Assis and Paulo Jorge.
Marseille versus Paris Saint Germain, French Ligue Un, Sunday, 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Stade Véledrome, Marseille
Both clubs bowed out of Europe mid-week: Marseille meeting their end at Old Trafford; PSG shown out of Europa by Benfica. Perhaps each were looking forward to this match, a defining fixture in each clubs' season. PSG is in fifth, only three points behind their fourth place rivals, a height to which the Parisians are unaccustomed. It's been seven years since PSG finished this high in league, a 2003-04 season that's also the last time they finished above Marseille.
Racing Club versus Estudiantes, Argentine Primera Division, Sunday, 5:10 p.m. Eastern, Estadio Perón, Buenos Aires
Should we be surprised Racing Club sits atop the league? We're only five rounds in, and firmly entrenched in the "anything can still happen" phase of the tournament, Racing in first shouldn't preoccupy our thoughts. This is, after all, a league that's produced eight different champions in the last nine tournaments.
The only repeat winner in that time is Estudiantes, having won the Apertura, though new coach Eduardo Berizzo has already dropped two matches at home (in addition to a 5-0 loss at Cruziero in Libertadores). Despite those stumbles, the holders are only three points off the lead. With a win Sunday, Berizzo's adjustment period may be forgiven.
Others matches of note: Anderlecht versus Gent (Belgium), Zenit Saint-Petersburg versus Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia), Athletic Bilbao versus Villarreal (Spain), Vélez Sarsfield versus San Lorenzo (Argentina), Valencia versus Sevilla (Spain), Vasco da Gama versus Botafogo (Brazil)