MX23RW : Monday, March 25 22:01:01

This weekend's biggest games in world football

Ahead of another packed weekend of football, Sports Mole rounds up the biggest matches to be taking place around the world.

The Champions League stole the show in midweek, with 54 goals being scored across the two matchdays, but domestic football resumes this weekend around the world.

It is a particularly notable weekend of football too, with some of the world's biggest derbies to look out for from places as far afield as Brazil, Bulgaria and South Africa.

Here, Sports Mole picks out a selection of the most important games of the weekend from all over the world.

Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce, Sunday, 5.30pm

Turkish Super Lig table

The biggest match in Turkish football takes place on Sunday when Galatasaray host their bitter rivals Fenerbahce for the first time this season looking to extend their lead at the top of the table.

It has been a fine start to the season from Galatasaray, who have dropped just two points from their eight Super Lig fixtures to storm into a six-point lead over their three closest challengers, and eight ahead of their visitors this weekend.

Having been dumped out of the Europa League in just the second qualifying round, Galatasaray have only had their domestic duties to worry about so far this season and go into the match on the back of a four-match winning streak.

The club finished in a disappointing fourth place last season - below Fenerbahce on goal difference only - and so will be looking to redeem themselves this time around having been beaten 10 times during 2016-17.

Fenerbahce, meanwhile, have already lost twice this season and are one of three teams grouped on 14 points - outside the European places as things stand and facing the prospect of falling 11 points behind their fiercest rivals with defeat on Sunday.

This is a rivalry between two clubs in the same city, but based on different continents with the Bosphorus separating them. There is no love lost between the two sets of players or supporters, and the ill-feeling grew even deeper when then-Galatasaray manager Graeme Souness famously planted the club's flag into the middle of Fenerbahce's pitch after beating them in a cup final.

Feyenoord vs. Ajax, Sunday, 1.30pm

Eredivisie table

Fierce rivals Feyenoord and Ajax will renew their feud on Sunday in 'Der Klassieker' with both already playing catch-up at the top of the Eredivisie.

PSV Eindhoven currently lead the way, enjoying a five-point lead over these two sides which could grow to an eight-point deficit for the loser of Sunday's blockbuster showdown.

Only goal difference separates Ajax and Feyenoord as things stand, and there was very little between them last season either when Feyenoord pipped Ajax to the title by just one point, lifting their first Eredivisie crown since 1999 in the process.

It was the Amsterdam club that won the bragging rights over their Rotterdam rivals during the meetings between the two sides with a win and a draw, though, and Feyenoord are now without a league win against Ajax since January 2012 - a run of 10 matches.

Sunday's hosts do not go into this game in good form either, winning just one of their last five matches across all competitions and enduring a similar spell in front of their own fans.

In the Eredivisie alone Feyenoord have failed to score in three of their last four games, whereas Ajax have hit eight goals in back-to-back 4-0 league wins to draw level with their biggest rivals.

Marseille vs. Paris Saint-Germain, Sunday, 8pm

Ligue 1 table

We have had the biggest match in Turkish football and the biggest match in Dutch football, and this weekend also sees the biggest one in French football as Marseille host Paris Saint-Germain in Le Classique.

The contest pits Marseille's tradition against the upstarts of Paris, although the latter's Qatari investment means that it is no longer as level a playing field on the pitch - not that that has diluted the hatred between the two sets of fans.

PSG's superstars have been in unstoppable form this season; the front three of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe already have a ludicrous 27 goals and 14 assists between them across all competitions, helping them take control of matters both domestically and abroad.

Only two points have been dropped in Ligue 1 so far as PSG have built a six-point lead over champions Monaco already, while Marseille are a further two points behind that and outside the Champions League places on goal difference as things stand.

The form of Sunday's hosts is not bad, with just one defeat in their last seven outings across all competitions and only three losses in 16 all season, but PSG's is better still - Unai Emery's side have won 12 and lost none of their 13 outings across all competitions this term.

A trip to Marseille is often the toughest of the season for PSG, though, and the home side will certainly not make things easy for their rampant visitors on Sunday.

Napoli vs. Inter Milan, Saturday, 7.45pm

Serie A table

Juventus have dominated Italian football throughout this decade, winning an unprecedented six Serie A titles in a row, but these two sides are threatening to finally end the Old Lady's reign this season.

Napoli are the only remaining perfect team in Europe's top five leagues having won all eight of their league matches so far this season, including a 1-0 victory over Roma in the Stadio Olimpico last weekend.

Inter are not far behind, though, dropping only two points from their eight Serie A outings and beating city rivals AC Milan last weekend to make it three wins on the bounce heading into this match.

The visitors should also be fresher having not been involved in Europe during midweek, whereas Napoli took on Manchester City and lost 2-1 to end their six-match winning streak across all competitions.

Napoli remain perfect at the Stadio San Paolo this season, though, and stretching back into the previous campaign they have now won their last nine matches in front of their own fans and are unbeaten since Real Madrid's Champions League visit in March.

Not since the days of Diego Maradona have Napoli's title hopes looked so good, but Inter are also bidding to return to their former glories having failed to finish inside the top three in any of the past six seasons.

Hajduk Split vs. Dinamo Zagreb, Saturday, 6pm

The biggest match in Croatian football, Hajduk Split will host bitter rivals Dinamo Zagreb in the latest edition of the Eternal Derby on Saturday knowing that defeat could see them effectively ruled out of the title race after just 13 matches.

These two sides have been the dominant forces in Croatian football ever since the breakup of Yugoslavia, winning 24 of the 26 league titles between them with only NK Zagreb and Rijeka - last season - upsetting the odds in that time.

Rijeka's title triumph was particularly notable as it ended Zagreb's incredible run of winning the league 11 seasons in a row, emphatically confirming their status as the top dogs with Hajduk Split left on six titles - the last of which came in 2004-05.

You have to go back to that 2004-05 season for the last time Split finished above Zagreb in the table, and it does not look like that 12-year wait will end this term with seven points separating them as things stand.

Table-topping Zagreb are still unbeaten in the league this term, winning nine and drawing three of their 12 outings, whereas Hajduk have been beaten three times already and would fall 10 points adrift of the leaders should they lose on Saturday.

Zagreb were eliminated in the Europa League playoffs back in August despite not losing a game, which means that they are unbeaten in 17 matches across all competitions since the start of the season.

Levski Sofia vs. CSKA Sofia, Saturday, 2pm

Also known as the Eternal Derby, the Sofia-based rivalry between Levski and CSKA bears many of the same traits as Hajduk Split versus Dinamo Zagreb - namely the historic dominance of football in their country.

CSKA lead the way with 31 titles to their name, finishing as runners-up 22 times, whereas Levski have lifted the biggest prize in Bulgarian football 26 times in addition to finishing second on 32 occasions.

However, having shared nine of the first 10 titles between them this century, neither club have won the crown since 2009, with first Litex Lovech and then Ludogorets Razgrad overtaking them as the top dogs in Bulgarian football.

Ludogorets once again lead the way this term as they go in search of a seventh straight title, but CSKA and Levski are both hot on their heels and Saturday's derby could make or break a title challenge for either club.

Levski go into the match unbeaten in five games and having not conceded during that time, stretching their impressive clean sheet run to nine in their last 10 with only four goals conceded in their 12 league outings this term.

CSKA have let in double that number, but they are also the top scorers in the division with 30 from their 12 matches helping them to a 13-game unbeaten streak across all competitions which includes 11 wins since losing to Ludogorets in July.

The three points lost in that match is all that separates CSKA from Ludogorets as things stand, while Levski - who face the leaders in their next league match after this weekend - are three points adrift of CSKA and would move level on points with their fiercest rivals with a victory.

Ipswich Town vs. Norwich City, Sunday, 12pm

Championship table

Ipswich Town and Norwich City will renew acquaintances in the latest edition of the East Anglian derby on Sunday with just one point separating them in the Championship table.

The Tractor Boys boast a game in hands over their near neighbours, but head into the match in poor form having lost six of their last eight outings across all competitions to slip down into 10th place.

There is still only a two-point gap to the playoff places, though, and Mick McCarthy will know that victory in this weekend's derby could be exactly what his side need to get their top-six charge back on track.

Ipswich have not beaten Norwich since 2009, though, and that eight-match streak contains five wins for the Canaries, who themselves are one point better off than Ipswich and only one point off the playoffs heading into the weekend.

The formbook points towards an away win too, with Daniel Farke's side having overcome a slow start to the season to go into the weekend unbeaten in their last eight outings across all competitions.

Norwich have also won their last four away matches - their best run on the road since March 2015 - whereas Ipswich could lose back-to-back home games for the first time since December of that same year.

Bahia vs. Vitoria, Sunday, 8pm

It may not have the bucket-list allure of a Flamengo versus Fluminense at the Maracana, but meetings between Bahia and Vitoria are still among Brazil's biggest derbies.

The match has thrown up everything from the ridiculous to the tragic in the past - one Bahia player committed suicide in 1934 after assaulting the referee in a derby and the subsequent criticism he received in the press.

In the mid-1990s another Bahia player was sent off in two consecutive derbies having been taunted by a Vitoria midfielder who claimed to have slept with his wife. Following the second red card, the Bahia player broke into his opponent's flat and pointed a gun at his head until he promised that the adultery had never taken place.

Just a few years later this derby failed to even take place as both clubs thought that they were at home, resulting in the title being shared.

Nowadays neither are in the mix for honours, but Sunday's match remains a big one as both sides battle against relegation. Just one point separates Vitoria from the dropzone as things stand, whereas Bahia are only two points better off.

So congested is the Brazilian Serie A that victory could see either leap into the qualifying positions for the Copa Sudamericana, though, so the significance of victory or defeat could be huge for both sides.

Kaizer Chiefs vs. Orlando Pirates, Saturday, 2.30pm

With just four points separating the top six in the South African top flight as things stand, matches like Saturday's Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates hold a high level of importance even at this early stage.

There is only one point between the fourth-placed Kaizers and third-placed Pirates in the table, but neither go into the match in particularly good form.

Kaizer Chiefs have won just two of their last five outings and only four of their last 16 stretching back into last season, whereas Orlando have only won once in their last five and only finished in a lowly 11th place last term.

As recently as July, this fixture resulted in tragedy as two fans died in a stampede outside the FNB Stadium, where Saturday's match will also be played.

Other matches to look out for

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool: Two top-four hopefuls duke it out at Wembley on Sunday as third-placed Tottenham Hotspur host eighth-placed Liverpool.

Malmo vs. AIK: Sweden's top two go head to head on Monday evening at the Swedbank Stadium, although Malmo have already wrapped up the title with three games to spare.

CSKA Moscow vs. Zenit St Petersburg: Another top-of-the-table clash, this time in Russia as leaders Zenit St Petersburg travel to Moscow to take on third-placed CSKA. Just four points separate the two sides.

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Neymar and Kylian Mbappe side by side during the Ligue 1 game between Dijon and Paris Saint-Germain on October 14, 2017
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