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

European club rugby is back for the second weekend in a row with another stacked fixture list. Gloucester again get proceedings underway with Agen the visitors to Kingsholm Thursday night. Munster face Racing at Thomond Park Saturday, while there is a return to France for Newcastle centre Maxime Mermoz, and last week's upstarts Krasny Yar 'host' Edinburgh.

Here, 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): Rhys Webb (Ospreys). It has been some week for the 28-year-old scrum-half, who has become the poster boy for dissent against the Welsh Rugby Union's new selection policy. How much that has affected him will become apparent when he runs out at Allianz Park for a blockbuster tie Saturday. The Ospreys need an unlikely win at the home of the European champions.

Challenge Cup (James Harrington): Maxime Mermoz (Falcons). An early-season layoff for personal reasons meant the former French international only made his Falcons debut against Dragons last weekend. This week sees another first for the 31-year-old. Newcastle's trip to Bordeaux marks his first game on France soil since he left Toulon in January. He played down that fact in an interview on the club website, but he will want to stake a claim for a regular starting slot. A strong performance at Stade Chaban-Delmas will do his cause no harm.

Game of the weekend

Champions Cup: Munster vs. Racing 92, Saturday, 5.30 p.m.

Having survived severe second-half pressure to emerge from Castres with a 17-17 draw last weekend, Munster will want to kick on with a win in what will be their first outing at Thomond Park since the year anniversary of Anthony Foley's death. Racing, who were due to be the Irish province's opponents that day, showed flashes of what they are capable of in an opening win over Leicester, and could open up a gap at the top of Pool 4 with victory. It should be an emotional occasion in Limerick.

Challenge Cup: Bordeaux vs. Newcastle, Saturday, 5.30 p.m.

Fifth in the Top 14 versus fourth in the Premiership. A match between two pacy, ambitious and attack-minded teams that have lost two games each all season, and who both picked up bonus-point wins in their respective Challenge Cup openers. The only potential downside to this encounter looks to be the weather -- showers are forecast, which could make handling difficult at the speeds these two sides like to play.

Potential upset

Champions Cup: Montpellier vs. Exeter, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Whether the sight of Exeter winning anywhere these days constitutes an upset is up for debate, but they will fancy their chances against Vern Cotter's big-spending Montpellier. Tipped as an outside bet to win the tournament, the Top 14 side only managed a losing bonus point at Leinster last weekend. Another defeat would hand their chances of progressing from Pool 3 a serious blow and the Chiefs will be keen to land it.

Challenge Cup: Krasny Yar vs. Edinburgh, Saturday, 10 a.m.

Why not? The Siberian side will have their tails up after winning their opener against defending champions Stade Francais last week -- a result that will have been a wake-up call for both Edinburgh and London Irish, Pool 4's other sides. Actually, here's a possible why not... Krasny Yar's second 'home' game in as many weeks is at Moscow's Fili Stadium -- more than 4,100km west of their usual ground, which means they have to travel further than opponents Edinburgh.

Big weekend for...

Champions Cup: Wasps and Harlequins. This clash has been termed must-win in some quarters and despite it only being the second weekend of Champions Cup action, that is not entirely hyperbole. Both Premiership sides were beaten in the opening round and would be faced with a mountainous task to qualify should they lose again at the Ricoh Arena. Wasps have lost their last five matches, Quins three of their last four -- the stakes could not be higher.

Challenge Cup: Stade Francais. It's win or bust for the defending champions after last week's shock result in deepest Siberia. A second defeat -- this time against London Irish -- will effectively end the defence of their title after just two matches. The Paris side have two things in their favour. They are at home, where they have won their last six Challenge Cup outings; and there's also the fact that Premiership survival is surely uppermost in the Exiles' minds.