ESPN's rugby predictions: Games of the week, potential upsets & more

European rugby is back once more and last weekend's action has only added to the intrigue as defeated teams look to turn the tables on their opponents. Exeter, Northampton, Racing 92 and Saracens will all have a point to prove as they play the return legs of their continental double headers.

ESPN's experts predict which teams are set for a big weekend, which players will shine and where your attention should be trained across the two competitions.

Player to watch

Champions Cup (Martyn Thomas): Wesley Fofana (Clermont). Alivereti Raka's quickfire hat trick put Fofana in the shade somewhat at Allianz Park but the France centre played a pivotal role in the lopsided victory. Fofana made 91 metres from 10 carries, making three clean breaks and beating as many defenders as Saracens were put to the sword on their own, frozen turf. If that is what he can do following such a disrupted build up then what will he be capable of in familiar surroundings? The European champions have been warned.

Challenge Cup (James Harrington): Akapusi Qera (Agen). Proving he's very much alive, despite obviously fake news to the contrary a few weeks ago, the Fijian back row scored twice in Agen's 21-40 defeat at home to Pool 3 leaders and Top 14 rivals Pau last weekend. Qera, 33, has had something of a point to prove since he was unceremoniously dumped from Montpellier's books at the club's end-of-season barbecue, and -- after a few quiet weeks -- is now starting to show his true worth to his new club.

Game of the weekend

Champions Cup: Wasps vs. La Rochelle, Sunday, 1 p.m.

La Rochelle put on an attacking masterclass during the first half of their 49-29 defeat of Wasps at Stade Marcel Deflandre last weekend. The Top 14 side have been the team of the Champions Cup so far and will fancy their chances of upsetting their hosts once again. However, Dai Young's side did not buckle, and gave as good as they got for large spells on the French coast. That they returned to Coventry with a try bonus point is all the evidence they will need that they can kickstart their flagging European hopes at the Ricoh Arena. Something has to give.

Challenge Cup: Cardiff Blues vs. Sale Sharks, Sunday, 3.15 p.m.

There's more than just vital points at stake at the Arms Park this Sunday -- though they are important in the tightest pool of the Challenge Cup where just four points separates top from bottom. The hosts will be out for revenge after they were humiliatingly nilled at the AJ Bell Stadium last weekend. Opening up a gap at the head of Pool 2 would just be a bonus.

Potential upset

Champions Cup: Treviso vs. Scarlets, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Scarlets can count themselves lucky to have emerged victorious last Saturday, having been losing to 14 men before Steff Evans dragged his side out of a whole late on. Treviso seemed to be galvanised by Francesco Minto's early red card in Llanelli, and will have taken confidence from the fact they went toe-to-toe with the PRO14 champions for so long while a man light. If you had watched no other rugby than last Saturday's clash you would assumed the hosts were favourites for this one.

Challenge Cup: Dragons vs. Newcastle, Friday, 7.30 p.m.

Dean Richards' Falcons may have lost seven of their last eight on the road in this competition -- but that solitary win came in round two of this year's tournament at Bordeaux. They also have the upper hand over their hosts, with two wins in their last three meetings. The Dragons, meanwhile, have won just three of their last seven at home to Premiership opposition. It will probably be close, but Pool 1 leaders Newcastle could just sneak this one and maintain their perfect record.

Big weekend for...

Champions Cup: Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall gave his side six weeks to turn around their season in the wake of their crushing defeat to Clermont but he will know they need a performance now if they are to retain any hope of winning a third successive Champions Cup crown. A bonus-point win would ensure they wrestle back control of their continental destiny, but a performance to be proud of will be the aim. It will not be easy, Saracens are missing several key players and Clermont have lost just one home pool match since December 2008.

Challenge Cup: She will treat it as any just another rugby match, but World Rugby's Referee of the Year Joy Neville becomes the first female to take charge of a European Challenge Cup match when she officiates the Pool 1 match between Bordeaux and Enisei-STM at Stade Chaban Delmas Friday evening. It shouldn't need celebrating, but until this becomes so normal that no one pays any heed to an official's gender, positive firsts like this must be noted.