This weekend's biggest games in world football

Sports Mole rounds up the biggest matches across world football for the upcoming weekend, from Argentina to Indonesia.

There were shock results aplenty in Europe during the week as the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Atletico Madrid all slipped up, and those big clubs will be bidding to bounce back on the domestic front this weekend.

It is another packed schedule around the world, with arguably the biggest match in club football taking place in Argentina in addition to huge games in Brazil, England, Germany, Italy and many other places.

Away from the glitz and glamour of such well established leagues, it promises to be a fateful weekend in places like Indonesia and Kazakhstan too, with their league titles being decided over the next few days with everything still up for grabs going into the closing stages of the campaigns.

Here, Sports Mole looks ahead to the weekend's biggest matches from all corners of the globe.



River Plate vs. Boca Juniors (Sunday, 9.05pm)

Quite possibly the biggest match in world football and the fiercest rivalry to boot, River Plate host bitter enemies Boca Juniors at the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on Sunday looking to dent the visitors' early title charge.

The two Buenos Aires rivals have endured contrasting starts to the season, with Boca storming into an early six-point lead at the top of the Superliga having won all seven of their league games so far, scoring 19 goals and conceding just one in the process.

By contrast, River Plate have won only three of their opening seven games to already find themselves nine points adrift of the leaders and languishing down in ninth place.

Form often goes out of the window in derby matches, though, and they don't get much bigger than the Superclasico. It is match which transcends football due in part to the Puerta 12 tragedy in 1968 which saw 71 fans die in a horrific crush, with the average age of the victims just 19.

The recent history of the fixture has belonged to River Plate, who have won six and lost just two of their last 11 meetings with their bitter rivals, although curiously they have not beaten Boca on home soil in the Superliga since November 2010.

Boca are the defending Argentine champions, though, with last season's title taking them to within four of River Plate's all-time record tally of 36.



Corinthians vs. Palmeiras (Sunday, 7pm)

Staying in South America, one of the biggest matches in Brazilian football also takes place on Sunday as Corinthians host Palmeiras in the Paulista derby.

There is no love lost between the great Sao Paulo rivals, and the fixture is one that captures the imagination of fans across the world. In 1974 a crowd of more than 120,000 saw Palmeiras pick up a 1-0 home win, and the contest has drawn more than 100,000 spectators on three other occasions too.

No other Brazilian rivalry has as many major trophies involved as this one, and that tally looks likely to grow this season with these two clubs currently occupying the top two spots in the Serie A table - just in case there wasn't already enough spice to the fixture.

Corinthians lead the way with a five-point gap separating them from their bitter enemies, but they have suffered an alarming dip in form with only one point from the last 12 on offer and only two wins from their last 10 Serie A outings. Indeed, all six of their league defeats this season have come in their last 12 games.

Palmeiras, by contrast, have only lost one of their last 10 Serie A games to close the gap on Corinthians, while the likes of Santos and Gremio are hot on the heels of the Sao Paulo top two.

Corinthians have won both meetings so far this calendar year, but before that Palmeiras were on a six-match unbeaten streak, including back-to-back wins at the home of their rivals.



Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich (Saturday, 5.30pm)

Bundesliga table

It is by no means the oldest nor fiercest rivalry in Germany, but it has developed into arguably the Bundesliga's most anticipated fixture in recent years and Borussia Dortmund will renew acquaintances with Bayern Munich in 'Der Klassiker' on Saturday.

Dortmund have been the main challengers to Bayern's domestic supremacy in recent years and even pipped them to the title in back-to-back seasons from 2010-12 before Munich seized the Bundesliga crown back and beat Dortmund in the Champions League final for good measure.

Having finished seventh in 2014-15 and third last season, it looked as though Dortmund may be capable of launching a genuine title challenge this time around when they raced to the top of the table early on, dropping just two points from their opening seven games while Bayern endured a tumultuous start to the campaign.

However, since Carlo Ancelotti was sacked by Bayern and treble-winning manager Jupp Heynckes returned, the champions have regained their place at the top of the pile with a run of six consecutive wins across all competitions.

By contrast, Dortmund have only won one of their last six outings, including picking up just one point from the nine on offer in the Bundesliga during October, conceding nine goals in the process.

Dortmund have lost just one of their last four meetings with Bayern inside normal time, although their victory in the corresponding fixture last season was their first in a home league match since 2012.



Chelsea vs. Manchester United (Sunday, 4.30pm)

Premier League table

The two most successful English clubs of the Premier League era will go head to head on Sunday as Jose Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge with his Manchester United side in tow.

Mourinho was eager to remind Chelsea fans that he steered the club to three league titles when the two sides met in the corresponding fixture last season, adding fuel to a feud between himself and current boss Antonio Conte which has been bubbling under the surface for some time.

Conte has bigger concerns than any Mourinho mind games heading into this weekend's match, having seen speculation over his future surface once again following a convincing midweek Champions League defeat to Roma, which ended a run of three consecutive wins.

Another defeat on Sunday could leave Chelsea 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City and with their title defence hanging by a thread, but United are also desperate not to let City out of their sights having established themselves as their local rivals' closest challengers so far this season.

A 1-0 win over fellow title hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur last weekend ensured that the gap remains at five points, and the reaction to their shock defeat at Huddersfield Town has been good with three wins and three clean sheets in all competitions since.

All six of their dropped points this season have come on the road, though, and United have only won once in the league at Stamford Bridge since 2002, including a 4-0 drubbing in the corresponding fixture last season.



Genoa vs. Sampdoria (Saturday, 7.45pm)

Serie A table 1

Considered by many in Italy to be the country's fiercest rivalry - above the Milan and Rome equivalents - Genoa host Sampdoria in the Derby della Lanterna (Derby of the Lighthouse) on Saturday.

While many other Italian rivalries have been spiced up by participants battling each other for silverware along the way, this fixture between the two Genoa-based clubs is fuelled by tradition against the comparatively young upstarts.

Genoa are Italy's oldest football club having been founded in 1893, whereas Sampdoria are just 71 years old having only come into being in 1946 - the country's newest continuously operating club.

Serie A table 2

Saturday's match is an important one for the home side too as they currently find themselves in the Serie A relegation zone having picked up just one win from their opening 11 games to sit two points adrift of safety.

Sampdoria, by contrast, are flying high in sixth place and, while there is a clear gap between themselves and the top five, Marco Giampaolo's side also enjoy a four-point advantage over the likes of Fiorentina, AC Milan and Torino.

Sampdoria won both meetings last season at the shared Stadio Luigi Ferraris and have only lost one of the last seven, including each of the last four in which Genoa have been the home team - their best ever such run.



Blooming vs. Oriente Petrolero (Sunday, 11.30pm)

It may not be the most renowned South American football rivalry, but make no mistake - Blooming versus Oriente Petrolero is a big deal in Bolivian football.

A fixture with a history of violence amongst fans, both clubs are based in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and the match is known in Bolivia as the Clasico Cruceno.

Neither are amongst the most successful clubs in the country - Blooming have won five titles while Oriente are one behind on four, despite finishing as runners-up a whopping 15 times, which is the joint most of any team.

Despite that, the rivalry continues to burn strongly due to the ill-feeling between both sets of fans, and they go into Sunday's match with just one place and two points separating them in the Bolivian league table.

Five wins from their last six games has lifted Blooming up to fourth, six points adrift of leaders Bolivar but two above Oriente, who have lost back-to-back matches since a hugely-impressive 5-1 win over Bolivar.

Blooming therefore have the chance to inflict three consecutive defeats on their fiercest rivals for the first time since December 2013, although the corresponding fixture last season saw Oriente run out 3-0 winners at the Estadio Ramon Aguilera Costas.



Olimpia vs. Cerro Porteno (Sunday, 8pm)

Another of South America's biggest, but lesser-known, derbies sees Paraguay's two most successful clubs lock horns this weekend when Olimpia host Cerro Porteno at the Estadio Defensores del Chaco.

With 71 titles shared between them - 40 for Olimpia and 31 for Cerro Porteno - the results of these matches often determine who will be crowned champions, although the natural order was upset last season when neither club managed to get their hands on the trophy.

Cerro Porteno are currently well placed to put that right this season, enjoying a two-point lead over second-placed Guarani with a game in hand over all of their closest rivals.

The visitors go into Sunday's match on the back of a five-match winning streak, whereas Olimpia have won just two of their last eight outings to slip down to third place, now three points adrift of their greatest rivals.

Victory for Olimpia would reel the leaders back in, but defeat would leave a big mountain to climb with only five games of the season remaining after this weekend.

Cerro Porteno have only won one of their last six editions of the Paraguayan Superclasico, though, with Olimpia winning three of those.



Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland (Sunday, 12.15pm)

Championship table 1

Sunderland's first North-East derby since suffering relegation from the Premier League comes at the Riverside Stadium this weekend, and the Black Cats will be hoping that the occasion will be enough to spark the club into life.

It has been a torrid return to the second tier for Sunderland so far, with off-field problems spilling onto the pitch and just one win from their opening 15 Championship fixtures leaving them languishing in the bottom three and forcing them to consider the possibility of back-to-back relegations.

Tuesday's 3-3 draw with bottom club Bolton Wanderers was the final straw for the board as they sacked manager Simon Grayson just 16 minutes after the final whistle, with the club still without a home win in any competition so far this calendar year.

Championship table 2

The Black Cats will be hoping that the Riverside is just about far enough away to avoid that hoodoo, and they come up against a Middlesbrough side who have only won one of their last five Championship outings in front of their own fans.

However, Garry Monk's side have reacted much better to their own relegation and are up there battling for the playoffs in the Championship, with only two points separating them from the top six following back-to-back wins on the road.

Boro have also won the last three meetings between these two sides and have not suffered a league defeat at the hands of their North-East neighbours since September 2008.



Other matches to look out for

Lokomotiv Moscow vs. CSKA Moscow: A Moscow derby which could have great consequence in Russia, with Lokomotiv currently top of the table and CSKA a full seven points adrift in third place.

Copenhagen vs. Brondby: The Copenhagen derby takes place on Sunday with Brondby currently top of the table and the hosts languishing in a disappointing fifth place, eight points behind their local rivals.

Manchester City vs. Arsenal: The Premier League's unbeaten leaders, fresh off the back of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League in impressive fashion, will look to make it 15 wins in a row across all competitions at home to fellow top-four hopefuls Arsenal.

Bristol City vs. Cardiff City: Saturday's Severnside derby will mean more than most in recent years with both fourth-place Bristol City and second-place Cardiff pushing for promotion to the Premier League this season.

Young Boys vs. Basel: Young Boys are dreaming of their first Swiss title since 1986 are currently lead the way ahead of rivals and second-place Basel, who are seven points adrift.

Anderlecht vs. Club Brugge: Belgium's two most successful clubs will duke it out on Sunday with Anderlecht looking to close the nine-point gap to runaway early league leaders Club Brugge.

Ludogorets vs. CSKA Sofia: Sunday pits the new dominant force of Bulgarian football against the old as Ludogorets - current league leaders and champions in each of the past six seasons - host second-place CSKA Sofia, who have a record 31 titles to their name.

Viktoria Plzen vs. Slavia Prague: Having shared the last three league titles between them, the top two in the Czech Liga go head to head on Sunday with Slavia Prague hoping to close the 11-point gap to Viktoria Plzen, who have won all 12 of their league matches so far this season.

Guadalajara vs. Atlas: The oldest rivalry in Mexican football enters its latest chapter this weekend when 14th-placed Guadalajara host eighth-placed Atlas.

Flora vs. Levadia: Estonia's season comes to an end this Saturday and, although Flora have already wrapped up their record 11th title, they will be looking to end the campaign on a high note at home to Tallinn rivals and second-place Levadia.

PSM vs. Bali United: Yep, we've gone as far as Indonesia in our search for big games this weekend. Three teams sit level on points at the top of the Liga 1 heading into the penultimate week of the season and two of them - top-of-the-table PSM and third-placed Bali United - face off on Monday night.

Astana vs. Akzhayik, Kairat vs. Aktobe: Kazakhstan will crown their domestic champions this weekend, and just one point separates leaders Astana and second-placed Kairat. Victory for Astana would be enough for a fourth consecutive title, but anything else opens the door for Kairat to lift the trophy for the first time since 2004.

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Shakhtar players celebrate a goal during the Europa League quarter-final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga on April 14, 2016
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