This Week in Sport: 17th —  23rd August 2020

This week in the sporting calendar is unlike any other, with plenty of elite competitions reaching their thrilling conclusion. Firstly, the two UEFA Champions League Semifinals will be succeeded by the Final on Sunday evening. We have reached the business end of the NBA season, with the playoffs getting underway on Monday.

There is a mouth-watering heavyweight bout to look forward to on Saturday night, as Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin go toe-to-toe in the ring. The electrifying series between the Calgary Flames and the Dallas Stars continues with Game 5 on Tuesday.

This week’s offering from the PGA Tour comes in the shape of The Northern Trust event, taking place at TPC Boston. Cricket fans will be treated to another instalment of Test action as England meet Pakistan in the 3rd Test.

Monday 17th August 10:30PM GMT – Basketball: Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

As Round 1 of the NBA playoffs gets underway, one standout clash sees two titans of the East meet at 10:30PM GMT in the NBA Bubble.

Monday marks the start of this season’s NBA playoffs, as the festival of basketball continues. One of the main attractions of the first round will see third play sixth in the Eastern Conference, as Boston meet Philadelphia. Though Boston will go into the series as firm favourites to progress, the Celtics beat Philadelphia just once in their four meetings this term. However, Boston have won each of their last four playoff series’ against Philadelphia, last losing to the Pennsylvania-based outfit in a postseason series way back in the 81-82 season.

Another factor in determining the Celtics’ favourites tag is the fact that, whilst they have a fully fit squad to choose from, Philadelphia will be missing one of their key stars. Ben Simmons will miss the remainder of the season after dislocating a kneecap, whilst Joel Embiid and Al Horford must be treated with kid gloves as they are both returning from respective injuries. Can Philadelphia defy the odds and pull off a minor first-round miracle?

Tuesday 18th August 7:00PM GMT – Ice Hockey: Calgary Flames v Dallas Stars

Game 5 of this thrilling NHL playoff series will take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Two sides desperate to make a long-awaited return to the Stanley Cup Finals are thrashing it out in a thrilling series in Canada. In what turned out to be a breathless Game 4, which was ultimately decided in overtime, Stars ran out 5-4 winners over their Canadian adversaries to tie the series once again at 2-2. In this topsy turvy series, Calgary have twice taken the lead, and twice handed the initiative back to Dallas, who will look to take a series lead for the first time in Tuesday’s outing.

Calgary have notoriously struggled in recent postseason campaigns, having progressed past the initial series in just one of their last seven playoff appearances. Meanwhile, Dallas also have very little playoff experience, having qualified from just four of their last 12 attempts. However, with honours even going into Tuesday’s crucial showdown, it is all still to play for, make sure you tune in to find out who will get the upper hand!

Wednesday 19th August 7:00PM GMT – Football: Lyon v Bayern Munich

It is the Champions League Semi-final very few predicted, but you can expect fireworks at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon, with kick off on Wednesday 19th August at 7:00PM GMT.

The second Champions League Semi-final is somewhat of a David versus Goliath story. Whilst this year’s run to the Semifinals equals Lyon’s best return from a European campaign, Bayern Munich are looking to book a spot in their 11th Final in Europe’s elite club competition. However, that is not to say that Lyon are not deserved Semifinalists, with the French outfit having already overcome two European heavyweights in Juventus and Manchester City in the two preceding knockout rounds.

Meanwhile, Bayern have been the standout side of the competition so far, having scored 39 goals already, eight of which came against Barcelona in a historic Quarter-final win. Since the 1970’s, Bayern have reached the Final of Europe’s elite club competition in every single decade and a win on Wednesday will see them extend that run at the earliest possible opportunity. In this alternate one-legged format, which side will prevail to reach Sunday’s Final?

Thursday 20th August 12:00PM GMT – Golf: The Northern Trust

The FedExCup playoffs of the PGA Tour will get underway with The Northern Trust on Thursday 20th August at TPC Boston.

The Northern Trust event marks the beginning of the three-week FedExCup playoffs, as Rory McIlroy looks to cling on to his title for another year. The Northern Irishman remains well in the hunt, and currently resides eighth in the FedExCup Season Standings. McIlroy will be joined by Tiger Woods as the only two-time FedExCup winners in the star-studded Northern Trust field, as they contest the first playoff event of three.

Should the inimitable Woods manage to reign supreme in Boston this weekend, it will mark his 83rd career win on the PGA Tour, overtaking the ‘winningest’ golfer ever on Tour, Sam Snead.

Even though the glorious TPC Boston won’t be graced by any patrons this week, the event will be shrouded in tension, as the players compete for the top 70 spots in the standings ahead of the all-important BMW Championship.  

Friday 21st August 10:00AM GMT – Cricket: England v Pakistan (3rd Test, 1st Day)

England and Pakistan will go toe-to-toe once more in the 3rd and final Test at the Rose Bowl, with play beginning at 10:00AM GMT on Friday 21st August.

After England came out on top in a thrilling 1st Test, the second meeting was a washout, with only 96.2 overs of action taking place across the first four days of play. Both teams will be praying for clearer skies this week, as some of the world’s top cricketers look to showcase their skills to the watching millions. There may have been some relief in the Pakistan camp when the 2nd Test was cut short as, after posting a score of just 236, who knows how the match would have unfolded.

However, they were given a glimpse of hope early on in England’s initial innings, as Rory Burns was caught in the slips just four balls in. Though England’s reply with the bat was brief, Joe Root has been left with plenty to ponder, as Burns’ dismissal represented the fourth duck in five Tests for English openers, equalling the most in an English Test summer.

Saturday 22nd August 9:00PM GMT (estimated) – Boxing: Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin

Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin, two of the sport’s deadliest heavyweights, meet at Fight Camp, with the ring walks expected to take place around 9:00PM GMT on Saturday 22nd August.

Dillian Whyte will put his hopes of a title shot on the line this week as he takes on former WBA heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin. Having waited over two years for his fair swing at the title, Whyte is preparing to risk it all in a make or break bout that could effectively end his chances of ever taking the championship belt, currently held by compatriot Tyson Fury. Dillian Whyte is on an 11-fight winning streak, but has had a turbulent couple of years, having overcome a failed drugs test and more recently taken a beating from Mariusz Wach, despite ultimately triumphing in that last outing.

There are some concerns that Whyte will already have one eye on his next fight, which could prove costly, as - although Povetkin is now the wrong side of 40 - the Russian remains one of the more dangerous heavyweights in the division, having lost just two of his 38 bouts.

Sunday 23rd August 7:00PM GMT – Football: Champions League Final

The curtain will rise on the biggest show in club football at 7:00PM GMT on Sunday 23rd August, as the Champions League Final plays out at Estádio da Luz in Lisbon.

The show must go on in this year’s edition of the Champions League, but this year’s Final will be contested in very unusual circumstances. With the showpiece match being played just four days after the second Semi-final, there will be very little time for recovery for whichever two sides qualify. Of the four teams left in the competition, only Bayern Munich have ever participated in a Champions League Final before.

There hasn’t been any French representation in this showpiece game since the 2004 edition, when Monaco stumbled to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of José Mourinho’s Porto. Don’t miss out on one of the biggest games in the footballing calendar!

Other sporting highlights around the globe

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NBA, as the Round 1 ties of the playoffs get underway. One of the stand-out clashes pits the Utah Jazz against the Denver Nuggets, which begins on Monday. Two more series that will headline the ongoing festival of basketball will see the Miami Heat face the Indiana Pacers in the East, whilst the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets lock horns in the West. The Boston Celtics’ aforementioned meeting with Philadelphia will continue all week long, so don’t miss any action.

Weather permitting, England and Pakistan will hope to play out Day 5 of the 2nd Test on Monday, with the match destined to end in a draw.

The second UEFA Europa League Semi-final will play out on Monday evening, as Inter Milan meet Shakhtar Donetsk in Düsseldorf. An unprecedented Europa League campaign will finally draw to a close on Friday, more than a year after the competition began, as the Final is contested in Cologne. Both RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to reach the Champions League Final for the first time, as the two sides thrash it out in Lisbon.

Fans of the NHL will be treated to a week full of electrifying playoff action, with several series highlighting proceedings. Reigning Stanley Cup champs, the St. Louis Blues, will continue their title defence as they take on the Vancouver Canucks, whilst last year’s runners up Boston Bruins meet the Carolina Hurricanes. Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche will continue their tussle all week long, with a potential Game 7 taking place on Sunday.

This unpredictable NRL season continues with two tantalising clashes as the Eels take on the Storm on Thursday, and the Panthers do battle with the Sharks the following day. Rugby League fans have plenty more to look forward to this week, including Challenge Cup action which will see the Catalans Dragons lock horns with Wakefield Trinity.

Meanwhile, there are three unmissable showcase Premiership Rugby matches not to be missed this week, as Sale Sharks meet Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester Rugby host Bristol Bears and Saracens go head-to-head with Harlequins. This week’s Super Rugby offering comes in the shape of Brumbies v Waratahs as first meets third.

The Western and Southern Open will start this week, an event which is on both the ATP World Tour and WTA Tour.

It will be a thrilling four days of golf as the Women’s British Open takes place at Royal Troon. 

In the world of athletics, we venture to Stockholm this week as the Diamond League Sweden plays out.

There is plenty more AFL action to keep an eye on at the weekend, with the showpiece affairs seeing the Brisbane Lions take on St Kilda and the West Coast Eagles tussle with GWS Giants.

MotoGP fans will be gearing up for another scintillating race, as the Styria Grand Prix plays out and it is the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

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

Fixture

Photos by Boston Celtics, Dallas Stars, Olympique Lyonnais, PGA TOUR, England Cricket, Dillian Whyte, UEFA Champions League

Written and information correct on 16th August at 9pm GMT

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