This Week in Sport: 22nd – 28th February 2021

Another action-packed week in the sporting calendar gets underway in the Mile High City where the Colorado Avalanche will meet the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL. Thomas Tuchel will get his first taste of Champions League football as Chelsea boss on Tuesday as his side travel to face Atletico Madrid. With the series tied at 1-1, it is all to play for in the pivotal 3rd Test between India and England – Day 1 plays out on Wednesday. The world’s greatest golfers will journey to Florida this week as the WGC at The Concession Club is contested from Thursday. 

Two teams tussling for position in the Western Conference share the court on Friday night, as the LA Lakers entertain the Portland Trail Blazers in a mouth-watering NBA matchup. Manchester City will look to make it 14-straight wins in the Premier League on Saturday as they welcome West Ham United to the Etihad. Don’t miss Sunday’s Six Nations clash between table-topping France and Scotland, with five more crucial points up for grabs at Stade de France! 

Monday 22nd February 2:00AM GMT (Tuesday 23rd) – Ice Hockey: Colorado Avalanche v Vegas Golden Knights 

There’s a clash at the top of the NHL’s West Division as the Colorado Avalanche host the Vegas Golden Knights at Ball Arena in Denver on Tuesday 23rd February at 2:00AM GMT.

The Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights will close the curtain on their four-game mini-series on Monday night, as the two sides vie for position in the highly competitive West Division. 

They say the table never lies in sport, but it is Colorado who have enjoyed the greater success from this early season mini-series, despite sitting one spot behind the Golden Knights in the divisional standings. After losing the initial tie in Vegas on Monday, Colorado went on to win the subsequent two meetings by a 3-2 scoreline. Those two narrow victories saw the Denver-based outfit close the gap on the West Division’s pacesetters, and now sit three points behind table-topping St. Louis with four games in hand. Whilst their offensive shortcomings have been far too apparent at times, Colorado’s successes have been built upon an impervious defence, which has conceded fewer goals than any other team in the league. Can the defence pass the Golden Knights test one more time? 

There is plenty riding on Monday’s matchup for a Vegas side who will be desperate to bounce back from last week’s consecutive losses. The Golden Knights will be hoping to seize the opportunity to go top of the shop, as they currently sit just one point behind the table-topping Blues. This team are continuing to make waves in their brief NHL history, and are looking to record a top three finish for the third straight season. 

In the previous three meetings between these sides last week, each game was decided by a single goal, but which way will it go in Monday’s thrilling series climax?

Tuesday 23rd February 8:00PM GMT – Football: Atletico Madrid v Chelsea

The second set of Champions League Round of 16 matches take place, with Atlético Madrid facing Chelsea at National Arena in Bucharest on Tuesday 23rd February 2021 at 8:00PM GMT.

Though Atletico Madrid and Chelsea may find themselves in the unfamiliar surroundings of southern Romania on Tuesday night, there is nothing unusual about these two European colossuses featuring in the Champions League knockout stages. For Atletico, Tuesday’s match will mark their seventh appearance at this stage of the competition from their last eight attempts, as Diego Simeone and co. look to finally break their UCL duck. The omens are good for the Argentine as he prepares his team to face English opposition in the Champions League knockout phase for the fourth time in the Club’s history. In fact, Atleti have never lost a knockout game against such opposition, progressing past Liverpool, Leicester and Chelsea in their three previous attempts. Can the Spanish giants hit the front and take a lead to London for the return leg in three weeks time? 

Thomas Tuchel is the man tasked with stopping that from happening, as the German looks to mount another charge to the Final. Tuesday marks six months to the day since Tuchel walked his PSG side out in Lisbon to contest the 2020 Final, and he will be hopeful of becoming just the third Chelsea manager to take the Blues all the way to club football’s showpiece event in May. Whilst Tuchel’s deliberate brand of football has certainly divided opinion, it is clear that results have picked up since his arrival, with the Blues yet to lose under the German’s reign. He would certainly adorn himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful with a positive result against Madrid, but who will get the upper hand in the first leg? 

Wednesday 24th February 9:00AM GMT – Cricket: India v England (3rd Test, Day 1) 

India and England begin an all-important Third Test on Wednesday 24th February 2021 at 9:00AM GMT at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.

With the first two Tests already in the ledger, India and England are on the move this week as they make the long trip north from Chennai to Ahmedabad ahead of the pivotal 3rd Test. After England hit the front in the 1st Test to take a 1-0 series lead, India pinned the tourists back in the second to restore parity and perfectly tee up what has all the makings of a classic day-night Test.

Unquestionably the stand out performer from the 2nd Test was India’s Ravi Ashwin, who proved to be the difference-maker with both bat and ball in hand. After recording a five-wicket haul in England’s first innings, Ashwin added three more to his collection in the second to post astounding match figures of 8-96. The local hero went on to be the difference in his side’s second stint at the crease too, as he led the hosts’ scoring stakes with a contribution of 106. Ashwin’s amazing display in Chennai represented the third time the all-rounder has taken five wickets and posted a century in the same Test match. Will the 34-year-old prove too much to handle for the tourists once again this week?

In what was a heavily one-sided Test match from the very start, England’s crushing 317-run defeat would have left England’s decision-makers with plenty to ponder as they travel north ahead of this week’s festivities. However, the travelling party will certainly be buoyed by the imminent return of paceman Jofra Archer, who missed out on the 2nd Test in Chennai. Archer, who took three wickets in England’s 1st Test triumph, will be encouraged by the change of scenery, after the MA Chidambaram Stadium wicket received plenty of criticism, particular from English circles. The lusher pitch in Ahmedabad should be more conducive to seam bowling, but can England seize the initiative this week? 

Thursday 25th February 2:00PM GMT – Golf: WGC at The Concession Day 1 

The first WGC event of the year, the WGC-Workday Championship, gets underway at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida on Thursday 25th February 2021 at 2:00PM GMT.

The first World Golf Championships event of 2021 takes us to the Sunshine State of Florida, where some of the biggest names in the sport will vie for their share of the $10.5 million purse. After the late additions of Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson to the star-studded field, fans will be treated to seeing each of the world’s top ten ranked players compete at The Concession this weekend, but who are the favourites to reign supreme at this year’s edition?

Last year’s winner Patrick Reed will try and stake his claim to become the first back-to-back winner at this event since Tiger Woods won in three straight years between 2005 and 2007. The divisive Reed will certainly head to Florida as one of the Tour’s form players after winning the Farmers Insurance Open last month by a convincing five-stroke margin. Reed is looking to become just the third player in history to win this event for the third time, with Woods and Dustin Johnson the two other three-time champs. 

The very same Dustin Johnson will also be in the field this weekend as he eyes a fourth win at this event. DJ is in fine fettle, too, having backed up his win at the Saudi International with another top ten finish at last weekend’s Genesis Open in southern California. The American appears to be the favourite wherever he plys his trade these days, but will he come out on top in Florida? 

This time around, the WGC field will be without Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson for the first time since 1999, but which player will rise to the top in their absence?  

Friday 26th February 3:00AM GMT (Saturday 27th) – Basketball: LA Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers 

A crucial battle in the NBA’s Western Conference goes down at Staples Centre in Los Angeles as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday 27th February 2021 at 3:00AM GMT.

Two titans of the Western Conference with similarly lofty expectations this term will do battle on Friday night as some of the league’s most explosive players lock horns. 

After racing into top spot early on in the season, Los Angeles suffered a slight drop in form last week which has seen them slide to third in the West, 2.5 games behind pace-setters, the Utah Jazz. After losing to two title contenders in the Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat last week, LeBron James and the Lakers will be desperate to flaunt their championship credentials with the scalp of Portland on Friday night. Whilst it hasn’t quite been clicking at the offensive end of late, the Lakers’ defensive unit continues to play at an elite level, ranking the second best in the NBA behind only the New York Knicks. Much of that defensive excellence can be attributed to the perennial Anthony Davis, who leads the Lakers in rebounds, steals and blocks. However, Davis is currently injured and not expected to return for 3-4 weeks - how will the Lakers cope without him?

After seeing their six-game winning streak come grinding to a halt at the weekend, Portland will be desperate to revise their win tally once again in Los Angeles on Friday night. In recent seasons, the Trail Blazers have enjoyed immense success playing at the Staples Center, having beaten the Lakers on their last three visits. Behind the unique skillset of Damian Lillard, Portland have been operating as one of the top offensive units in the league this term, with only two players averaging more points per game. In his ninth season in the league, Lillard has been widely touted as one of the most feared players in the country, and his astronomical numbers certainly support his case. Lillard has averaged 30 points per game so far, and the 30-year-old has been particularly handy from beyond this arc, and is one of just three players averaging over four three-pointers per game. Can the Lakers’ second ranked defence contain the 5-time NBA All-Star? 

Saturday 27th February 12:30PM GMT – Football: Manchester City v West Ham United

Manchester City look to continue their amazing run of form in the Premier League as they face West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 27th February 2021 at 12:30PM GMT.

Two of the Premier League’s form teams collide this weekend, with three more points up for grabs at City’s Etihad Stadium. In and amongst all of the chaos across the world right now, it has been business as usual for Pep Guardiola and his sky-blue winning machine, who find themselves ten points clear in top spot heading into Saturday’s showdown. Their win over Arsenal at the weekend was their 13th straight in the top flight, as the Citizens chase down their joint record of 18 consecutive Premier League wins. If their recent head-to-head record with the Hammers is anything to go by, there is little to suggest that that lengthy streak will come to an end this weekend. City have won eight of the last nine meetings with West Ham, only dropping points against them for the first time since 2016 in the most recent edition. 

Meanwhile, David Moyes is working some magic of his own in the capital, having guided his Hammers to fourth spot heading into the final week of February. In the club’s 24-year Premier League history, West Ham have never finished higher than seventh, but with 13 games left to play, can they cling on to secure a seat at Europe’s top table next term? There was little to suggest the contrary last weekend as they heaped more misery on London rivals Tottenham to record a seventh win from their last nine league outings. The tough tests come thick and fast in England’s top tier, but a positive result against Man City would go some way to proving West Ham’s European credentials. 

Sunday 28th February 3:00PM GMT – Rugby Union: France v Scotland 

‘Les Bleus’ of France meet the blue of Scotland in a pivotal Six Nations matchup at the Stade de France – play begins at 3:00PM GMT.  

Having won both of their opening fixtures, France must now shoulder the burden of being labelled title favourites, but will their championship march be derailed this weekend? 

‘Les Blues’ are currently sat level with Wales on 9 points, with the former only ahead on account of their far superior points difference. After the formality of their opening day win over Italy, France’s title credentials were given a far sterner examination last time out, as Ireland pushed them all the way. However, the French ultimately passed the test, finding themselves on the right side of the 15-13 scoreline. After their two-game stretch on the road, the tournament leaders will return to the home comforts of Stade de France, as they prepare to take on a Scotland side against whom they have enjoyed immense success throughout history. When facing the Scottish at Stade de France, the head-to-head record is particularly one-sided, with Scotland last winning there all the way back in 1999. France have won the subsequent 11 meetings at their national stadium, and a 12th straight win this weekend could send them on their way to yet another Six Nations title. 

Whilst the Scottish camp will be all too aware of their well-documented struggles on French soil in recent years, they will look to build upon their impressive win over France in last year’s Six Nations. After their historic victory at Twickenham three weeks ago, Scotland were unlucky not to double their points tally in their second outing, as Wales narrowly edged out a 25-24 thriller. However, a win over France on Sunday would certainly keep their title hopes alive, and could see them move top of the pile ahead of next week’s crop of fixtures, should other results go their way. 

Other sporting highlights from around the globe 

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the cricket, starting in New Zealand where the Black Caps meet Australia in the 1st T20I on Monday before doing battle in the 2nd T20I three days later. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Women will be in action this week as they prepare to host England in the 1st ODI at Hagley Oval on Tuesday. There will be two more electrifying matchups between the two nations on Friday and Sunday, as they thrash out the 2nd and 3rd ODIs. After Day 1 of the 3rd Test between India and England plays out on Wednesday, the subsequent four days of the match will be contested throughout the week, with the final day’s play scheduled for Sunday. 

There is plenty happening in the NHL across the next seven days, with the first honourable mention going to the Carolina Hurricanes’ clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning – the Central Division rivals will meet on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, the New York Islanders will play host to the Boston Bruins in an East Division faceoff on Thursday, whilst the Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche lock horns on the same evening. The Coyotes and Avalanche will meet for the second time this week on Saturday night. The Hurricanes will also return to the ice at the weekend, this time to take on the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. 

There are four days’ play on the PDC Tour this week coming in the shape of Super Series 1 action, with the event unfolding at the Bolton Whites Hotel. 

Villa de Madrid takes centre stage on the World Athletics Indoor Tour on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, the UAE Tour continues on the UCI World Tour from Monday, with the race reaching its thrilling conclusion on Saturday. 

There are plenty of big-name stars taking to the courts of America this week to play out a packed NBA schedule. Damian Lillard will march his Portland side down to Arizona for a Monday night matchup as the Suns host the Trail Blazers at PHX Arena. Portland will then make the arduous journey up to Denver where they will take on the Nuggets the very next evening. The Indiana Pacers will welcome Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday night, whilst the Utah Jazz do battle with another Californian outfit in the shape of the LA Lakers. These two teams from the ‘Golden State’ will then share the court on Sunday night, as the Lakers entertain the Warriors. Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to keep tabs on the East’s frontrunners as they welcome the  LA Clippers to Fiserv Forum on Sunday.

Football fans will be marking their cards ahead of another hectic week of action from some of the world’s biggest competitions. It all gets underway in the Italian capital on Tuesday where Roma will cross swords with Bayern Munich in the Champions League Round of 16. There is a UCL double header to look forward to on Wednesday night, as Atalanta entertain Real Madrid and Borussia Mönchengladbach take on Manchester City. It’s Matchday 3 in the SheBelieves Cup on Wednesday – Canada face Brazil at Exploria Stadium before USA and Argentina take the field shortly after. 32 teams will be whittled down to just 16 in the Europa League on Thursday night as the Round of 32 second legs play out. Ajax will look to defend their slender 2-1 lead as they welcome Lille to Amsterdam ArenA. There’s nothing to split Arsenal and Benfica after last week’s first leg ended 1-1 – which side will seize the initiative in Piraeus? After last week’s stalemate in the Czech Republic, Leicester and Slavia Prague will do battle once more as they vie for a spot in the last 16. Bayer Leverkusen and BSC Young Boys have already played out one of the ties of the round, with the aggregate score reading 4-3 in favour of the Swiss side – the two teams do it all over again at BayArena on Thursday night. 

Two more German outfits will be in action on Saturday night, as RB Leipzig host Borussia Mönchengladbach in a Bundesliga showdown. Barcelona will make the cross-country trip to Seville this week as the two sides contest a pivotal La Liga fixture. Atletico will look to bounce back from last week’s crushing defeat to Levante when they travel to face Villarreal on Sunday. The Eredivisie’s two most decorated clubs do battle in Eindhoven on Sunday night as PSV entertain Ajax. Leicester City will look to complete their first ever Premier League double over Arsenal when the two sides meet at the King Power Stadium on Sunday. That match is shortly followed by another titanic top-flight clash which will see Chelsea lock horns with Manchester United. St Johnstone have the opportunity to win the Scottish League Cup for the first time in their history when they take on Livingston at Hampden Park in Sunday’s Final. After losing out to Inter last weekend, AC Milan will look to keep their Serie A title hopes alive as they travel to face Roma in the capital. 

One of the Tour’s grandest snooker tournaments crashes onto our screens this week as the highly anticipated Players Championship plays out at Marshall Arena all week long ahead of Sunday’s Final.  

Some of the biggest names in the Women’s tennis game will be in WTA Tour action this week as the Adelaide International unfolds throughout the week leading up to Saturday’s Final. 

Don’t miss the two days of electrifying Formula E action set to play out on Friday and Saturday as two rounds of the Diriyah E-Prix take place. 

Boxing fans will be left salivating over this weekend’s showstopping schedule. The world’s best pound for pound fighter will be putting it all on the line on Saturday night as Canelo Alvarez looks to defend his WBC and WBA World Middleweight titles against Avni Yildirim in Miami. Carl Frampton will look to become a three-weight world champion on Saturday night when he enters the ring with title holder Jamel Herring. Finally, New Zealand’s two finest heavyweights go toe-to-toe in Auckland as Joseph Parker takes on Junior Fa.

The Premiership continues to throw up some unmissable matchups, with Wasps hosting London Irish at the weekend, whilst Newcastle Falcons entertain Harlequins. After a last week’s hiatus, the Six Nations returns with a bang this weekend as Wales do battle with England on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes face off with the Blues in a Super Rugby Aotearoa showdown whilst Round 2 of the Super Rugby AU season is headlined by the Brumbies meeting with the Waratahs in Canberra.  

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

Fixture

Photos by Vegas Golden Knights, Atlético de Madrid, Team India, WGC-Workday Championship, Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester City, Scottish Rugby

Written and information correct on 21st February at 9pm GMT

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