JOE marks your calendar for the sporting week ahead
This week there is plenty of sporting action to choose from with Wimbledon, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh, Lions action, Confederations Cup and Stanley Cup all on our screens.
Now that Tahiti have left the competition, the Confederations Cup has a more competitive feel to it and there are two intriguing semi-final clashes in prospect.
On Wednesday South American rivals Brazil and Uruguay will meet in Belo Horizonte. The Samba Boys are not the side they once were, but still look pretty formidable in front of the home support and with Neymar up front they have perhaps the form player in world football. Uruguay come into this after thumping Tahiti so will be unlikely to enjoy such generous defending.
The other semi is a European affair where the Spaniards take on Italy for a place in the final. Spain have played within themselves and are still winning, so we don’t hold out too much hope for the Azzurri, but stranger things have happened.
It’s time to crack out the strawberries and cream as Wimbledon, also known as Murray Mania, gets underway today at the famous venue. Seeking to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to lift the trophy, all eyes will be fixed on the Scot and whether he can overcome the likes of Djokovic, Federer or even Nadal – an easier task on grass – and back up his US success. In the women’s draw, it looks like the only person capable of beating Serena Williams is herself.
The tournament never ceases to disappoint and a recent survey showed that one in every 18 London workers plans to pull a sick day at some stage to take in the action on SW19.
For horse racing enthusiasts, Saturday evening at the Curragh promises to be a brilliant race in a bumper-packed festival. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will decides the best three-year-old colt in Europe and the line-up is pretty impressive. Some of the finest racehorses in the world will competing for a prize fund of €1.25m and Ruler of the World looks to be the horse in pole position.
Winner of the Epsom Derby, the two runners up on the day, Libertarian and Galileo Rock are two other strong contenders in what is the jewel in the crown of the three-day Curragh Festival.
The Lions could wrap up a Test series victory for the first time since 1997 when they take to the field in Melbourne this Saturday, with injuries on both sides impacting team selections. The Aussies, for all their setbacks, were just a slip away from claiming victory and revenge will be in the air as Robbie Deans looks to take it to a deciding game in Sydney.
Paul O’Connell is out, but Tommy Bowe is expected back and Warren Gatland and his charges will have been getting to grips with the laws, or at least the interpretations of the breakdown all week. Expect another gripping contest.
The Stanley Cup will be decided this week with Game 6 and 7 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins. The Blackhawks take a 3-2 lead into tonight’s match with the seventh game taking place on Wednesday night should the Bruins prevail. It is the first time the two sides have played each other at this stage of the season and the Bruins will need to up their performance after a 3-1 defeat last time out.
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