Another scintillating week in the sporting calendar lies ahead, starting with College Football action from the NCAA as the number one ranked LSU take on Clemson Tigers in the CFP Championship game. There is an intriguing game of cricket to watch out for on Tuesday as India host Australia in an ODI clash between two titans of the sport. Wednesday’s action is headlined by a third round FA Cup replay between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers after the initial tie ended in a draw. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship gets underway on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, whilst Friday will see South Africa and England lock horns on Day 2 of the 3rd Test. Two of the NBA’s top teams will take to the court on Saturday as the Houston Rockets battle it out with the Los Angeles Lakers, before the AFC and NFC Championship games play out in the NFL on Sunday.
LSU and Clemson play for the College Football Playoff National Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
LSU end a fantastic season with their first National Championship game since 2007. Leading a pass-heavy offense that’s ranked best in the nation is presumptive number one NFL draft pick Joe Burrow. The redshirt senior has thrown for over 5000 yards and 55 touchdowns. And on the receiving end of those passes are some of the best wideouts in college football. Ja’Marr Chase leads the team with 1500 receiving yards, and 18 touchdowns, on just 75 catches. However, they must overcome the nation’s best defence - that of defending national champions Clemson. The Clemson defence has come through time after time, allowing an average of just 11.5 points a game. This is an elite collegiate showdown you won’t want to miss.
Australia begin their tour of India with an ODI at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Some of the greatest cricketers in the world will congregate in Mumbai on Tuesday for an unmissable showdown. The match pits number two ranked India against number four ranked Australia, both of whom have enjoyed success in their recent outings. The hosts will be buoyed by their two ODI wins over the West Indies last month, whilst the Aussies flexed their muscles in the Test Series against New Zealand, winning 3-0. The tourists can boast one of the most fearsome bowling brigades the world over, led by Pat Cummins who has taken 96 wickets in just 58 ODI appearances. Cummins will likely shoulder the responsibility of containing the threat posed by India’s Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – the top two ODI batsmen in the world. Make sure you don’t miss a single ball of this electrifying clash!
Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers meet for an FA Cup third round replay at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Only three points separate these two sides in the Premier League and there was nothing between them in the initial meeting at Molineux. With both teams participating in the Europa League this term, both managers could have done without this extra meeting which puts additional strain on their enervated squads. However, this tournament has always been important to the Old Trafford faithful, who have seen their team lift the trophy 12 times, just one fewer than Arsenal’s record of 13. Wolves also have history in this competition, reigning supreme four times, however their last triumph came all the way back in 1960. These two teams have made 28 FA Cup final appearances between them, but only one will retain hopes of adding to that tally after Wednesday’s meeting.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship gets underway at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.
The Rolex Series returns with some of the biggest names in golf headed to the UAE for the first event. The 132-man field is headlined by Brooks Koepka and Shane Lowry. Koepka is the world number one and finished as the PGA Tour money leader last season. Lowry, who had an excellent 2019, is the tournament’s defending champion. However, there are plenty more stars vying for the title. World number six Patrick Cantlay, a true contender in the making, makes his debut at the tournament. Elsewhere in the field, Tommy Fleetwood will look to become just the second player to win the event three times. With so much talent on display, be sure not to miss this event.
South Africa and England continue their third Test at St. George’s Oval in Port Elizabeth.
After England restored parity in the 2nd Test, they will take on their hosts once more this week as the tourists seek to secure a series lead. It was a thrilling 2nd Test and South Africa very nearly clung on for a draw, but in the end some Ben Stokes heroics proved the difference between the sides. Very few sportsmen had a 2019 comparable to Stokes, and the all-rounder has seemingly carried his form into 2020 as he took each of the last three wickets to end the hosts’ hopes of retaining their series lead. With this test series now on a knife-edge, you won’t want to miss a minute.
In the NBA, the Houston Rockets challenge the high-flying Los Angeles Lakers at the Toyota Center in Houston.
You could be forgiven for mistaking Saturday’s match with the annual All-Star game, such is the elite level of these two franchises’ rosters. Houston’s James Harden has continued to set the league alight this term, and has averaged an astronomical 37.9 points per game. Lining up alongside Harden will be former MVP Russell Westbrook who has been adding over 24 points per game himself. However, even the league’s greatest scorers can often come up short against future hall of famer LeBron James, who has been deadly at both ends of the floor this year. The three-time NBA champion leads the league in assists and shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to have an unparalleled influence in games even in his 17th season in the league.
In the NFL’s AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Last week, Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdowns as the Chiefs came from behind to return to the AFC Championship. The Chiefs’ aerial superiority was on full display and the unstoppable nature of players like Travis Kelce was clear. Now, only one team stands between the Chiefs and their first Super Bowl appearance since 1969 - the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are the underdogs of this postseason. However, their potent rushing offense, led by Derrick Henry, has already upset postseason favourites in both the Patriots and Ravens. As they look for their first Super Bowl appearance since 2000, they are ready to bring down another giant. This is set to be a truly unforgettable game.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the snooker with The Masters playing out at Alexandra Palace all week long. Elsewhere, the sumo wrestling January Tournament will continue all week long. There is plenty more football to watch out for this week, starting with the third round FA Cup replay between Tottenham and Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening. The weekend’s Premier League action is book-ended by two unmissable matches, as Arsenal host Sheffield United on Saturday before Liverpool entertain Manchester United on Sunday. The NBA games continue to come thick and fast this week, with the action headlined by Wednesday’s meeting between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics. Elsewhere, South Africa and England will thrash out the 3rd Test all week long, whilst India and Australia do battle in the 2nd and 3rd ODIs. There is also some T20 cricket to sink your teeth into as the Sydney Thunder face the Sydney Sixers in the BBL. The European Rugby Champions Cup continues this week, with Harlequins clash with ASM Clermont Auvergne and Saracens meeting with Racing 92 headlining the action. The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship continues across the back half of the week. The week’s action concludes with the NFC Championship game in the NFL, as the San Francisco 49ers welcome the Green Bay Packers to Levi’s Stadium.
A week of world class sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by LSU Tigers, Clemson Tigers, ICC Cricket, Manchester United, Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, England Cricket, Los Angeles Lakers, Kansas City Chiefs
Written and information correct on 12th January at 10pm GMT
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