This Week in Sport: 14th – 20th June 2021

Another wonderful week of sport lies ahead! We open on Monday with a crucial Game 4 in the NBA playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. Follow that up on Tuesday with France versus Germany at Euro 2020. Here to get you over the midweek hump is Wednesday’s NHL matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens. Thursday sees the start of the U.S. Open golf while Friday brings us the start of the ICC World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand.

The weekend begins with the Premiership Rugby Semi-final between Bristol and Harlequins on Saturday. And we close out the week with the F1 French Grand Prix.

Joel Embiid playing Philadelphia 76ersMonday 14th June 11:30PM GMT – Basketball: Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers

The Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers meet for Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals series at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Monday 14th June 2021 at 11:30PM GMT.

The Philadelphia 76ers lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4. The Atlanta Hawks took a shock win in Game 1, holding off a Philadelphia rally that saw the Sixers score 41 points in the fourth quarter. However, the 76ers have bounced back and taken control of the series.

Joel Embiid has been the crucial piece for the 76ers. The 27-year-old has led the Sixers in scoring in all three games so far and has 106 total points. However, as he has had all season, there is a strong supporting cast in the likes of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry. It’s been 20 years since the 76ers made the Conference Finals, last reaching that stage of the playoffs in 2001. If they can play as they have done the past two games, they will put themselves in a great position to end that drought.

While the definite underdogs, the Atlanta Hawks are still dangerous. Their offence runs through Trae Young and the 4th-year guard has not disappointed. He has 84 points through the first three games of this series, adding to the 146 he scored against the New York Knicks in the first round. While he also has a strong collection of starting co-stars and reliable bench players, Young will be the difference-maker for the Hawks. The Hawks last made the Conference Finals in 2015, losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But if they want to return, they will first have to find a way past Philadelphia.

Olivier Giroud for France in the Euros 2020Tuesday 15th June 7:00PM GMT – Football: France v Germany

France and Germany open their Euro 2020 campaigns with a showdown at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Tuesday 15th June 2021 at 7:00PM GMT.

France will begin their campaign to become the fourth team, and third French side, to simultaneously hold the World Cup and European Championship title against old rivals Germany. Since lifting the World Cup in July 2018, France have lost just three matches and have retained over half of that World Cup-winning squad for this tournament. France reached the Final of Euro 2016, but last lifted the trophy in 2000. However, they are definitely a heavy favourite in 2021.

For Germany, it has been a rough few years. They crashed out of the 2018 World Cup in the group stage, their first ever time failing to advance from the groups. That was followed by a disastrous 2018-19 Nations League campaign that would have seen them relegated if not for the suspension of relegations after the competition’s first season. Euro 2020, which will be Joachim Löw’s last competition as manager, is widely seen as a chance for Germany to bounce back. To that end, Germany has opted for an older, more experienced side for the competition. But the journey ahead will be tough, with defending European champions Portugal awaiting them after France. Despite this, Germany will be eager to show Europe that they mean business.

Montreal Canadiens playing the Vegas Golden KnightsWednesday 16th June 1:00AM GMT (Thursday 17th) – Ice Hockey: Vegas Golden Knights v Montreal Canadiens

The Vegas Golden Knights host the Montreal Canadiens for Game 2 of their NHL Stanley Cup Semifinals series at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Thursday 17th June 2021 at 1:00AM GMT.

For the third time in their four-season history, the Vegas Golden Knights compete for a place in the Stanley Cup Finals. It has been a hard fought playoffs for Vegas, going to the full seven games with Minnesota and then six with Colorado. Jonathan Marchessault leads the team with 6 goals in this playoff run, but he is far from the only Vegas scorer. Mark Stone is on 5 goals, and there are three Golden Knights with 4 goals. In total, Vegas has scored 40 goals across their first two playoff series. They are most definitely a hard team to beat.

The Montreal Canadiens have their first shot at a place in the Stanley Cup Finals since 2014. After going the distance with Toronto in the first round, they enter this matchup with Vegas having swept the Winnipeg Jets in the second. They have four players sitting on four goals to lead their scoring efforts.

These teams have never met in the playoffs. However, in their six regular season matchups since Vegas joined the league, the Canadiens are 5-1 against Vegas.

Torrey Pines Golf Course for the U.S. Golf  OpenThursday 17th June 3:30PM GMT – Golf: U.S. Open

The 121st U.S. Open begins at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego on Thursday 17th June 2021 at 3:00PM GMT.

A very talented field takes to this stunning course in California for the U.S. Open. Bryson DeChambeau will look to defend his title from last September. The last man to defend his title was Brooks Koepka. The two-time champion is in the field, and aims to become the 7th three-time champion of the tournament. Meanwhile, world number 1 Dustin Johnson appears to have returned to form just in time for the US Open, the tournament he previously won in 2016. Johnson had been in a poor run of form but that came to an end at the Palmetto Championships last week with a Top 10 finish.

However, all eyes may be on Phil Mickelson. Mickelson became the oldest major winner in history when he won the PGA Championship earlier this year. What makes this US Open so important is that the US Open is the only major between Mickelson and a career grand slam. Mickelson has finished 2nd on six different occasions.

With nine past winners and plenty more talent in play, this is sure to be an unmissable event.

Rohit Sharma for the Indian Cricket TeamFriday 18th June 9:30AM GMT – Cricket: New Zealand v India

The Rose Bowl in Southampton plays host to the first Final of the ICC World Test Championship. New Zealand takes on India, starting at 9:30AM GMT.

Two years in the making, the inaugural Final of the ICC World Test Championship has finally arrived.

India topped the league table, earning 5 wins and 1 loss in their six Test Championship matches. Indian Test cricket has been dominant over the past years, seemingly unbeatable with a mix of batters that can’t be gotten out and bowlers who are adept at taking wickets. However, India’s only loss in the Test Championship came against their opponents today – New Zealand. In late February and early March of 2020, New Zealand took a Test series against India with two big wins. India will hope to be more ready for the Black Caps this time.

New Zealand finished second behind India in the standings, with 3 wins, 1 loss, and a draw. That one loss came against Australia in a series played in December 2019 and January 2020. Since then, they have been a stalwart competitor, best evidenced by their win over India last February. New Zealand are coming off a convincing series win over England, so will perhaps be more adapted to local conditions. 

Two great sides are set to face off, but who will be crowned Test champions?

Bristol Bears playing the HarlequinsSaturday 19th June 12:30PM GMT – Rugby Union: Bristol Bears v Harlequins

Bristol Bears and Harlequins face off for a place in the Premiership Rugby Final at Aston Gate in Bristol on Saturday 19th June 2021 at 12:30PM GMT.

Bristol Bears reached this point of the Premiership season last year, only to be dominated by Wasps. One year on, they’ve gone from the 3rd seed to regular season champions and a strong contender for the title. Bristol were dominant during the regular season, but still needed all 22 games to come out ahead of Exeter. Bristol has been led in scoring by wing Siva Naulago, who has 7 tries this season, and fly-half Callum Sheedy, who has 80 total points this season. Bristol have never reached a Premiership Final before, so to do would be a great accomplishment for the team.

Harlequins reach the playoff Semifinals for the first time since 2014. It has been a long climb for the London side, who return to the top of English rugby after languishing in the middle of the pack. Fly-half Marcus Smith leads the Premiership in points scored this season, with 260. Meanwhile, scrum-half Danny Care is 2nd in the Premiership in tries scored, with 12. Harlequins last reached the Premiership Final in 2012, where they took the title. Like Bristol, it would be a testament to their persistence and team-building.

However, only one team can progress to the Final.

Formula 1 French Grand PrixSunday 20th June 1:00PM GMT – Motorsport: F1 French Grand Prix

The F1 season continues with the French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard in La Castellet on Sunday 20th June 2021 at 1:00PM GMT.

A bizarre Azerbaijan Grand Prix two weeks ago means that little has changed at the top of the F1 driver’s standings. Given their 18th and 15th place finishes respectively, the gap between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton still remains at the four points it stood at after Monaco. However, given what happened in Baku, both men will be eager to bounce back.

The next stop on the racing calendar is the south of France and the Circuit Paul Ricard. One of the oldest automotive races, and the first ‘Grand Prix’, the French Grand Prix is both steeped in history and relatively new, only returning to the F1 calendar in 2018 after a decade-long hiatus. Circuit Paul Ricard is a fast circuit, pairing long straights with some fast corners and tough apexes.

The defending champion from 2019 is Lewis Hamilton, as is the case with many races this season. But expect a race to remember between Verstappen and Hamilton as they look to get back to their winning ways.

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions go to the Vitality Netball Superleague. As England’s premier netball league plays its 19th and 20th rounds of fixtures, four teams are still in contention for the last spot in the Finals series later this month.

Elsewhere, it’s a packed week for football fans. Euro 2020 continues, with a majority of group stage matches being completed this week. Copa América also continues throughout the week. In club football, the MLS and NWSL return to action after their international breaks.

It is also a busy week in the world of rugby. In union play, Exeter and Sale face off in the other Premiership Rugby Semifinal. The Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament concludes, with the Blues facing the Highlanders in the Final. The Major League Rugby season also continues and in the RFU Championship, Saracens and the Ealing Trailfinders play the second leg of the league Final. The U20 Six Nations tournament also kicks off this week.

In the league side of things, the Super League season plays its 10th round of fixtures, with St. Helens facing Warrington Wolves in their classic rivalry, while the NRL plays its 15th round of fixtures.

After the excitement of the French Open, the ATP Tour diverges, with players heading to Germany and England for the Halle Open and Queen’s Club Championships respectively. The WTA Tour does the same, with the week seeing the German Open and Birmingham Classic. All four tournaments will make for an exciting week of tennis.

For basketball fans, the NBA playoffs continue as teams battle for a place in their respective Conference Finals. The WNBA season also continues, with a busy week of fixtures scheduled.

There is also plenty of cricket to enjoy. The T20 Blast continues for county clubs in England. Meanwhile, on the international stage, England Women host India Women for a one-off Test. South Africa continue their tour of the West Indies, with the two sides playing their second Test.

While the biggest golf event of the week is the U.S. Open, other tours are also in action. Namely, the LPGA Tour travels to Michigan for the Meijer LPGA Classic, the last event before the Women’s PGA Championship next week.

In baseball, the MLB season continues. A highly-anticipated series between the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs, who both lead their respective divisions, takes place.

For ice hockey fans, the NHL playoffs also continue. The four remaining teams will battle for a place in the Stanley Cup Finals.

It’s something of a quiet week in Aussie Rules, but there are still 5 AFL fixtures to enjoy. The highlight of the week will be the battle between third-place Geelong and the second-place Western Bulldogs.

Alongside the F1 French Grand Prix, it’s a great week for motorsportFormula E travels to Mexico for the Puebla ePrix. Meanwhile, MotoGP heads to the Sachsenring for the German Motorcycle Grand Prix.

For horse racing fans, Royal Ascot returns for 2021.

Those with a love of darts, the PDC season marches on with Players Championship 13, 14, 15, and 16.

Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

Fixture

Photos by Philadelphia 76ers, Equipe de France de Football, Canadiens de Montréal, Torrey Pines Golf Course, Team India, Bristol Bears, Circuit Paul Ricard

Written and information correct on 13th June at 10pm GMT

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