This Week in Sport: 12th – 18th April 2021

Another blockbuster week of sporting action gets underway in the French Riviera where Day 2 of the Monte-Carlo Masters will play out on Monday. Tuesday’s offering takes us almost 600 miles across the country to Paris where PSG will look to defend their 3-2 first-leg lead in the Champions League Quarter-final against Bayern Munich. There will be no love lost when the Philadelphia 76ers meet the Brooklyn Nets in a pivotal NBA clash on Wednesday. 

Two Stanley Cup hopefuls lock horns in a fiery NHL clash on Thursday that sees the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Florida Panthers. There is a Friday feast of Premier League football to look forward to this week as Everton entertain Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park. The football continues to come thick and fast on Saturday with Chelsea’s FA Cup Semi-final tie against Manchester City the showpiece event. We end the week with the second GP of the new Formula 1 season coming in the shape of the Emilia Romagna GP. 

Monday 12th April 9:00AM GMT – Tennis: Monte-Carlo Masters Day 2 

There are plenty of glamourous ties to be contested on Day 2 at the Monte-Carlo Masters

The Monte-Carlo Masters begins in earnest today with a selection of Round of 64 ties set to play out on the French Riviera. With many of the biggest stars handed a bye at this stage of the competition, we won’t see the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal until later in the week. However, there are still plenty of unmissable matchups set to play out on Monday, including Fabio Fognini’s clash with the Serbian Miomir Kecmanović. After picking up the top prize at the 2019 edition, Fognini heads to Monaco as the reigning Masters champion, and will look to become the first Italian since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1967/68 to successfully defend this title. 

Elsewhere, Grigor Dimitrov is another of the star names in action on Day 2 – the heavy-hitting Bulgarian will face off with Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany. Dimitrov, who resides in Monte Carlo, recorded his best finish at this tournament back in 2018, finishing as a losing Semi-finalist. With only one World Tour Masters win to his name, the Bulgarian will be desperate to come out on top on the clay courts of Monte Carlo this week. Dimitrov and Struff have met on four previous occasions, with the head-to-head record reading two wins apiece. Two of those meetings came at this very tournament in 2017 and 2019, but which way will Tuesday’s clash go?

Tuesday 13th April 7:00PM GMT – Football: Paris Saint-Germain v Bayern Munich 

Can Bayern overturn the 3-2 first leg deficit to keep their Champions League title defence alive? 

In what was an electrifying first leg, PSG earned a slender one goal lead to take back home to Parc Des Princes as they look to repeat last year’s heroic run to the Final. In what was undoubtedly one of the games of the season thus far, Mauricio Pochettino watched on from the sidelines as his side could do little more than soak up the Bayern pressure for large portions of the game, before snatching three goals with some devastating counter-attacking football. 

Domestically, Bayern remain top of the Bundesliga and are closing in on an historic 30th championship. However, the absence of one Lewandowski was all too obvious once again at the weekend, as they whimpered to a draw against Union Berlin. Meanwhile, PSG are coming under mounting pressure of losing their stranglehold over the French top flight, and currently sit three points behind pace-setting Lille. Whilst Pochettino was drafted in to take PSG to the next level, which translates as success on the European stage, he will be feeling the pressure more than most to deliver a fourth straight Ligue 1 title, but can he also keep the club’s Champions League dreams alive?

Unfortunately for the Bayern faithful, star striker Robert Lewandowski looks set to miss out on the second leg after already being sidelined for the initial meeting. Whilst that will certainly buoy their French adversaries ahead of proceedings, the Bundesliga outfit demonstrated their ability to create chances at will in that initial meeting, giving Pochettino plenty to ponder ahead of this week’s affairs. 

Whilst they will have to do it without their Polish poacher, Bayern will be confident of overturning the deficit, having overcome PSG just under a year ago in the 2020 Champions League Final. 

Wednesday 14th April 11:00PM GMT – Basketball: Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets 

The Eastern Conference frontrunners lock horns in a mouth-watering NBA showdown – tip-off comes at 11:00PM GMT. 

There has been nothing to split the 76ers and the Nets so far this term, with the two franchises currently occupying the top two spots in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. Going into Wednesday’s showdown, Philadelphia have won four and lost four from their last eight outings as they continue to lose ground on the chasing pack. Despite reaching the playoffs in three straight seasons, Philly haven’t finished higher than third in the East since topping the pile in 2000/01. Their desperate struggle for consistency of late certainly hasn’t aided Philadelphia’s quest for a first-place finish, but a win over Brooklyn could go some way to asserting their authority over the Conference once again. 

Wins over this Brooklyn side have been hard to come by for the rest of the league this term, with the triple threat of Irving, Durant and Harden continuing to overpower even the league’s most impervious defences. After putting together an impressive recent run which saw them win six out of seven matches, Brooklyn were humbled by an understaffed Lakers side last week which halted their march to the top of the Eastern standings. In what is a crucial week for the Nets, in which they will face three teams currently in the Eastern playoff spots, Steve Nash and co. will be desperate to bounce back from last week’s crushing defeat and return to the top of the tree once again. 

Thursday 15th April 11:00PM GMT – Ice Hockey: Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers 

A Central Division matchup headlines the midweek NHL bill – the puck drops at 11:00PM GMT. 

In one of the most competitive divisions in the league, the power at the summit has frequently changed hands throughout the campaign. Heading into the new week, Tampa Bay reside in second spot after winning back-to-back games across the weekend. They now find themselves level on points with the frontrunners, but will look to move clear with what would be a statement win over Florida. The Lightning have been heavily dependent on their destructive goal-scoring prowess, having netted 140 times already this term – only the Avalanche have notched more times. Fortunately for the neutrals, this fixture is synonymous with goals, with 39 goals coming in just the last five meetings.

Meanwhile, Florida head into this midweek clash as one of the league’s most out-of-form teams, after losing three on the bounce last week. This unfortunate run came after the Panthers put together a six-game winning streak which propelled them to the summit of the Central Division, but now find themselves occupying third spot after being leapfrogged by the Hurricanes and Lightning. Whilst the Panthers have played two games more than the pace-setting Hurricanes, the former are currently only two points behind their Central rivals, and could return to the top of the pile should results go their way this week. 

Friday 16th April 7:00PM GMT – Football: Everton v Tottenham Hotspur

A Friday Premier League treat takes us to Goodison Park – which team will keep their top four dreams alive? 

Everton and Spurs have both seen their top four hopes dealt a serious blow in recent weeks. Whilst Everton are winless in three league outings, Tottenham have won just one of their last four with both sides now very much on the outside looking in on the Champions League spots. Failing to win on Friday night could all but seal the fate of one of these two teams, with the gap between themselves and the top four lodgers ever-widening. 

This Everton side seems a far-cry from the one that topped the table just a few months ago, after making a barnstorming start to the new campaign. Whilst mid-table mediocrity is far from what the Goodison faithful were expecting from this season, a late push for a Europa League spot could represent progress for the Toffees, a side who have qualified for European competition in just one of the last five seasons. 

Meanwhile, Tottenham are no strangers to competing in the continent’s elite club competitions, and remain in a strong position to at least be contesting the Europa League next term. The Lilywhites have been involved on the European stage in each of the last ten seasons, but for a team for which glory is in their DNA, a Europa League spot will not satisfy the appetite of large portions of the Tottenham supporters club. With the futures of both manager and some players very much up in the air, can Spurs make a late push for Europe’s top table?

Fans won’t soon have forgotten what happened the last time these two great clubs locked horns, with Everton running out 5-4 winners in an epic FA Cup Fifth Round showdown. 

Saturday 17th April 4:30PM GMT – Football: Chelsea v Manchester City 

A spot in next month’s FA Cup Final is up for grabs on Saturday – find out who will book their spot from 4:30PM GMT. 

Whilst Chelsea have been blessed with a favourable draw throughout their FA Cup campaign, having only faced one Premier League team in the shape of bottom-placed Sheffield United in the last round, they have been thoroughly convincing, having conceded just one goal en route to the Semis. Whilst Thomas Tuchel tasted defeat for the first time since moving to SW4 against West Brom a couple of weekends ago, the German’s Blues have responded to some tune, overcoming Porto and Crystal Palace in two pivotal games. Tuchel is now focused on taking Chelsea to their fourth FA Cup Final in five years, but in their way stand the imperious Manchester City, who have designs of their own trophy sweep this term.

With City still fighting on all four fronts, aspirations of a maiden quadruple are still very much alive and kicking. However, for all of Pep Guardiola’s success in Manchester thus far, the Spaniard can only boast a solitary FA Cup victory coming back in 2019. In fact, City have only reached the FA Cup Final on three occasions since the turn of the century, with most of their success in this competition coming back in the 1900s. Will City’s hopes of an historic quadruple still be intact after Saturday’s trip to the capital? 

These two sides last met in the FA Cup all the way back in 2016, on which occasion a rampant Chelsea side ran out 5-1 winners at Stamford Bridge in a Fifth Round thriller. 

Sunday 18th April 1:00PM GMT – Motorsport: Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

The second GP of the F1 season takes us to The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy.

The Formula 1 tour rolls onto Bologna this week where the electrifying Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be won and lost. Imola returned to the rotation last year in place of the cancelled Chinese GP and will once again feature this season as a track that always produces plenty of thrills and spills when the world’s greatest drivers are in town. 

There were few surprises when Lewis Hamilton kicked off the new season with a win in Bahrain a fortnight ago. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the seven-time world champion however, as Hamilton was dragged into an epic late-race duel with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but ultimately fended off the Belgian to hit the front in the Driver’s Championship. The defending champion will return to a track where he enjoyed immense success last term as he cruised to victory, recording the lap record in the process which now stands at 1:15.484. Will Hamilton follow up on his opening weekend victory with another dominant display?

Whilst last year’s edition was fairly uneventful, the very same Max Verstappen did threaten Hamilton’s commanding lead, but his pursuit was abruptly brought to an end with 13 laps to go due to a puncture. The Belgian will be hoping for fairer winds this time around, as he looks to keep tabs with the defending champ and even threaten to topple the world champion. 

Other sporting highlights from around the globe 

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the football with this week’s action starting in Seville where Chelsea will take on Porto in the Champions League Quarterfinals. Two more second leg ties from Europe’s elite club competition are set to play out on Wednesday with Liverpool facing Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund hosting Manchester City. The four Europa League Quarter-final second legs are scheduled for Thursday: Manchester United take on Granada, Villarreal entertain Dinamo Zagreb, Slavia Prague play Arsenal and Roma face Ajax. The Bundesliga’s headline event this week sees VfL Wolfsburg do battle with Bayern Munich. There is silverware up for grabs on Saturday in Spain as Athletic Bilbao lock horns with Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey Final. The standout tie from the Scottish Cup Fourth Round pits Rangers against Celtic. There is more cup action south of the border as Leicester City meet Southampton in the FA Cup Semi-final. The return of the MLS is marked with a blockbuster fixture featuring Columbus Crew SC and Philadelphia Union. Two ties top the Serie A bill this weekend as Atalanta entertain Juventus and Napoli cross swords with Inter Milan. Lyon will look to defend their 1-0 lead over Paris Saint-Germain in the Women’s Champions League Quarter-final second leg on Sunday. 

There is plenty going on in the NBA this week, starting with Tuesday’s offering which will see the Dallas Mavericks play host to the 76ers. There is another cross-Conference clash the same evening which pits the Phoenix Suns against the Miami Heat. The Heat return to action on Wednesday night as they meet the Nuggets in Denver. The defending champs are in action on Thursday as the LA Lakers entertain the Boston Celtics. Mark your diaries for a Friday night double header as the 76ers face the LA Clippers and the Nets meet the Charlotte Hornets. The Lakers return to the Staples Center court on Saturday to do battle with the high-flying Utah Jazz. The final offering of the week sees the Miami Heat play the Nets in a crucial Eastern matchup. 

It’s another busy week in the world of cricket, starting with South Africa’s 2nd T20I against Pakistan on Monday – the two great nations of the sport lock horns once more two days later to contest the 3rd T20I, before meeting in the 4th on Friday. There is another T20 clash on Wednesday to watch out for in the shape of an IPL clash between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore. The former are in action once again on Saturday, this time to take on Mumbai Indians in Chennai. With the County Championship season up and running, there are plenty more games taking place this week, with the pick of the bunch being Essex’s clash with Durham which begins on Thursday. Meanwhile, Queensland will meet New South Wales in the Marsh Sheffield Shield Final from Thursday. 

The LPGA Tour takes us to Ko Olina Golf Club in Hawaii from Wednesday where the LOTTE Championship will be contested. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour rolls onto Hilton Head Island, with the RBC Heritage getting underway from Thursday.

There is plenty more NHL action to sink your teeth into this week, starting with Thursday’s offering which sees the Toronto Maple Leafs entertain the Winnipeg Jets at Scotiabank Arena. The latter return to the ice on Saturday when they’ll cross swords with the Edmonton Oilers. Two more crucial points will be up for grabs when the Tampa Bay Lightning meet the Florida Panthers for the second time this week. 

The world of MotoGP will turn its attentions to Portimão this weekend where the Portugal Grand Prix will be contested.

The highly anticipated Snooker World Championship begins on Saturday at the world-renowned Crucible Theatre. 

There is a Californian grudge match to look forward to in the MLB this weekend as the San Diego Padres lock horns with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Super League fans will be clearing their diaries ahead of another crucial week in the season’s calendar. Friday night’s offering pits Leeds Rhinos against Wigan Warriors, whilst Hull FC entertain Warrington Wolves on Sunday afternoon. Another unmissable NRL offering sees the Storm face off with the Roosters on Friday night. 

Top of the AFL bill this week is Carlton versus Port Adelaide, as two former Premiership winners thrash it out at the MCG. 

Another electrifying Major League Rugby tie will be won and lost on Saturday as the Austin Gilgronis do battle with Rugby ATL. Saturday’s Super Rugby Aotearoa matchup sees the Chiefs face off with the Crusaders, whilst the Highlanders meet the Blues a day earlier. Meanwhile, the Women’s Six Nations continues on Saturday when Ireland take to the field with France. This weekend’s Premiership schedule begins in Northampton where Saints will meet London Irish on Friday night. Two Premiership rivals will do battle on Sunday afternoon as Bath Rugby go toe-to-toe with Leicester Tigers.

A world-class week of sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

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Photos by Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, FC Bayern, Philadelphia 76ers, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea FC, Red Bull Racing Honda

Written and information correct on 11th April at 9pm GMT

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