After the excitement of the autumn internationals, the stars of the home nations return to their club sides for another intriguing round of European Champions Cup action.
With the pools getting to the half-way stage after the encounters this week, clubs will be determined to get themselves in strong positions before the push for the knockouts.
We begin by looking at the action on Friday night, it’s a Scotland v England clash at Murrayfield as Edinburgh welcome Newcastle Falcons north of the border.
Edinburgh boss Richard Cockerill will be determined to see a response from his squad after they were humbled 44-14 at Munster last time out.
Not many sides get a result at Thomond Park and Cockerill decided to not field any of his Scotland stars for the trip across the Irish Sea.
That means Edinburgh can look forward to having the likes of Hamish Watson, Grant Gilchrist and Blair Kinghorn back in their ranks for the arrival of Newcastle.
After an impressive campaign last year, the Falcons have struggled to reach the same heights and currently find themselves bottom of the Gallagher Premiership after nine games.
However, that does not tell the whole story as they have picked up three wins from those nine games, as have five other teams in England.
Newcastle have faired far better in Europe and with two wins from two, boss Dean Richards and his side find themselves in a strong position.
As for this Friday, with the Scottish stars coming back into the fold and with Edinburgh already picking up two bonus points from their first two games in Europe, it could well be Cockerill’s side sitting pretty at the top of Pool 5 come full-time at Murrayfield.
Glasgow Warriors will be looking to test themselves across the Channel on Saturday when they make the trip to Lyon.
Much like last season, Glasgow are flying high at the top of Conference A in the Guinness Pro 14 and they managed to come through losing their stars in the autumn internationals to maintain pole position
Of course, the Scotland internationals of Jonny Gray, Ryan Wilson, Adam Hastings, Huw Jones and Stuart Hogg are all set to return to the fold for what will be a tough trip to France.
Lyon are sitting in fourth place in the Top 14 and this season they have proved the Stade de Gerland is a tough place to go.
However, hoping that conditions will be a little drier and warmer in France than up in Glasgow, the Warriors’ quick game should be able to cause the hosts problems.
Cardiff have already beaten Lyon in the competition this season and last time out in the Champions Cup, Glasgow managed to secure a 29-12 victory against the Blues.
This really will be a war of attrition, but Glasgow might just be able to edge this one, as long as their forwards can give that star-studded backline some quick service.
Saturday also provides another intriguing contest as a resurgent Toulouse prepare to make the trip to Coventry to face Wasps.
They still have some way to go, but Toulouse are certainly starting to edge back to the force that dominated European rugby for so many years to claim four Heineken Cups.
A narrow win over champions-elect Leinster last time out will have done nothing to hurt the confidence in the French camp and they sit pretty at the top of Pool 1 with a perfect record after the first two games.
Toulouse have also been impressing in the Top 14 this season and find themselves in second place in the table going into this weekend’s trip across the Channel.
As for Wasps, they too have a rich history in Europe with two titles but they might just be a bit further off Toulouse when it comes to getting back to the glory days.
Wasps certainly have stars in their ranks and they do currently sit inside the playoff places in the Gallagher Premiership table.
All Blacks fly-half Lima Sopoaga will need to run a tight ship on Saturday and his kicking once again will be key if Wasps are to stand any chance.
England star Elliot Daly, who has been linked with a move to rivals Saracens in recent days, will need to be fully focused on the job at hand, and he too can certainly cause problems.
However, Toulouse are on the up and, although French sides notoriously don’t travel too well, this team just has something about them and should be able to edge this one in Coventry.
One team that appears to have left its successful European spell behind them is struggling Toulon and they will have to drag themselves off the floor when Montpellier come to town on Saturday.
Toulon find themselves down in 10th place in the Top 14 table and they are rock bottom of Pool 5 after defeats to Newcastle and Edinburgh in the Champions Cup.
Mathieu Bastareaud and Julian Savea are just two of the big names at Toulon but the side have just not been able to click, especially in Europe.
Teams in France have narrowed the gap on the Stade Mayol outfit and splashing the cash is not uncommon across the league now.
Montpellier are just one of the teams who have invested and former Scotland coach Vern Cotter has got them playing some good rugby this season.
It will of course be difficult to get a result at the partisan Stade Mayol this weekend but Montpellier have the players to do it.
France international Louis Picamoles can carry hard in the back-row and former All Black Aaron Cruden is still a top fly-half.
Again, this will be another hard-fought contest but Montpellier seem to be in a better place than their Top 14 rivals and might just be able to secure the bragging rights this weekend at Toulon.
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