This Week in Sport: 24th – 30th May 2021

We have another great week of sport for you. On Monday, we start the final week of the Giro d’Italia with a difficult mountain stage. That is followed by Game 2 of the NBA First Round playoff series between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers. Our midweek fixture is the Europa League Final, where Villarreal face Manchester United. We’re off to the ballpark on Thursday as the San Francisco Giants host the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then we head down under on Friday for a top of the table AFL fixture, with Western Bulldogs taking on Melbourne.

The weekend begins with another football Final, as Manchester City and Chelsea clash in the Champions League Final. Finally, be sure to settle in on Sunday for the running of the Indianapolis 500.

Luke Rowe, Owain Doull, Eddie Dunbar and Sebastian Henao at Vuelta a AndalucíaMonday 24th May 9:00AM GMT – Cycling: Giro d’Italia Stage Stage 16

The final week of the Giro d’Italia begins with a 212km mountain stage between Sacile and Cortina d’Ampezzo. Monday’s stage begins in Sacile at 9:00AM GMT on Monday 24th May 2021.

Before riders can rest on Tuesday, they must face one of the toughest stages of the 2021 Giro d’Italia. Monday’s Stage 16 spans 212km of long ascents and taxing, technical descents to mark the start the of the race’s final week.

The stage begins in the picturesque town of Sacile, once home to the noble families of Venice. From there, it will make an altitude gain of over 5500m as the riders head north. While the most intense climb may be a 2km, 18% gradient incline towards the middle of the route, riders will also have to contend with a 10km 10% climb in the crucial final kilometres of the stage.

Colombian Egan Bernal continues to lead the race, with his lead slowly growing with every stage. After fifteen stages, the 2019 Tour de France winner has a 1 minute 33 second cushion ahead of his nearest rival, Simon Yates. The window is starting to close for the competition.

Be sure you don’t miss what will be a gruelling stage of the Giro d’Italia.

Frank Kaminsky and Devin Booker for the Phoenix SunsTuesday 25th May 2:00AM GMT (Wednesday 26th) – Basketball: Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

It’s Game 2 of the first round NBA matchup between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix. Tip off is at 2:00AM GMT on Wednesday 26th May 2021.

Game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers went the way the of the second-seed Suns. The Suns, behind 34 points from Devin Booker and a double-double from Deandre Ayton, were able to dominate the muted Lakers.

This has been a fantastic season for Phoenix, who earned their first 50-win campaign since the 2009-10 season. Devin Booker has been the team leader, putting up 25.6 points per game. He has a strong supporting cast in the likes of Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul. The squad mentality, rather than relying on the ‘super team’ model, have led to the Suns being a top ten team in both offensive and defensive efficiency. While they are largely viewed as the underdogs against the Lakers, they cannot be counted out.

The Lakers, while favoured for the series overall, have not played like defending champions. They have invested heavily in the super team model, and injuries to LeBron and Anthony Davis have significantly cost the Lakers. However, despite this, the Lakers had the best defence in the NBA this year. If LeBron and Anthony Davis can perform, the Lakers can be unstoppable. But the Lakers’ success is heavily reliant on this super team model.

Can the Lakers bounce back? Or will the Suns take one step closer to taking control of this series?

Edinson Cavani playing for Manchester UnitedWednesday 26th May 7:00PM GMT – Football: Villarreal v Manchester United

In the Final of the Europa League, Villarreal face Manchester United at Stadion Miejski in Gdańsk on Wednesday 26th May 2021 at 7:00PM GMT.

After crashing out of the Champions League following a disappointing group stage, Manchester United still have an opportunity for European silverware. This marks their first European Final since winning the Europa League in 2017. Entering the competition in the round of 32, they have seen off Real Sociedad, AC Milan, Granada, and Roma. United have done this on the back of the goalscoring talents of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, who have a combined 17 goals in the competition.

As for their opponents, this is Villarreal’s first European Final. After finishing 5th in La Liga last season, they have dominated European play. Going unbeaten in the group stage, they have outscored their opponents 13-3 in the knockout stages. In front of goal, Gerard and Paco Alácer have led the team with 6 goals apiece. At the other end of the field, backup keeper Gerónimo Rulli, who has served as starter for the Europa League, has been invaluable.

The two sides have meet four times previously, all ending in goalless draws. The last time they met was in 2008.

Will Villarreal be crowned champions on their first attempt? Or will Manchester United take their 5th European title?

Will Smith for the Los Angeles DodgersThursday 27th May 2:10AM GMT (Friday 28th) – Baseball: San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers

The battle in the MLB’s NL West continues as the San Francisco Giants meet the Los Angeles Dodgers for another four-game series at Oracle Park on Friday 28th May at 2:10AM GMT.

The San Francisco Giants have been one of the surprises of the 2021 MLB season. Considered fringe playoff contenders, they have exceeded expectations and are currently challenging for the NL West title. Veteran catcher Buster Posey has been the team’s hitting leader as he currently bats an outstanding .355. Elsewhere in the order, the likes of Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are having productive seasons. Meanwhile, two Giants’ pitchers currently have an ERA under 2.00. This is a Giants team that is ready to contend.

As for the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the season has been business as usual. No-one in their starting lineup is batting below .255. Their ace pitcher, 2020 Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, is pitching another excellent season with an ERA under 2.00. The only problem for the Dodgers is that their division is now one of the most competitive in the MLB. There are now three playoff-contending teams as the San Diego Padres and Giants are now threats to the Dodgers’ NL West dominance.

When these teams met on Sunday, the Dodgers came away with a decisive 11-5 win. How will they fare as the teams meet once again?

Jack Macrae and Jordon Sweet for the Western BulldogsFriday 28th May 9:50AM GMT – Australian Rules Football: Western Bulldogs v Melbourne

It’s first versus second in the AFL as Western Bulldogs host Melbourne at Marvel Stadium in Docklands on Friday 28th May 2021 at 9:50AM GMT.

Melbourne’s nine-game winning streak to begin the 2021 was snapped last weekend in a heart-breaking one-point loss to Adelaide. However, the team that missed the Finals entirely in 2020 are still flying high nearing the halfway point of 2021. Led in scoring by 24-year-old Bayley Fritsch, who has 22 goals in 9 games, Melbourne are looking like contenders. While there are many games left to play, this could be the season the team  ends the title drought that has lasted since 1964.

Western Bulldogs, who currently lead the league on points percentage, enter the week on a three-game winning streak. This was most recently marked by a monumental 111-point win last weekend. Led by 2020 signing Jack Darling, who is currently third in the Coleman Medal standings, the Bulldogs are looking to improve on a first round Finals exit last year. Like Melbourne, they have come into 2021 white hot, as they hunt for their first title since 2016.

Be sure you don’t miss the match between the season’s hottest teams.

Andreas Christensen of Chelsea chasing Ferran Torres of Manchester CitySaturday 29th May 7:00PM GMT – Football: Manchester City v Chelsea

The Champions League concludes with an all-English Final as Manchester City take on Chelsea at Estádio do Dragão in Porto on Saturday 29th May 2021 at 7:00PM GMT.

Manchester City appear in a European Final for the first time since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970. This match is the summit of a long climb for City and two-time Champions League winning manager Pep Guardiola. After progressing no further than the Quarterfinals in club history, they were able to break through this season. After winning their group, they secured easy wins over Borussia Mönchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund, and PSG. Goalscoring has been led by Riyad Mahrez and Ferran Torres, with 4 goals each. City will be eager to exact some revenge on Chelsea, most recently for their Semi-final loss in the FA Cup.

This is Chelsea’s third Champions League Final, and their first since winning the title in 2012. It’s been a difficult path for Chelsea since that win, only making it past the Round of 16 once. However, they have seen a reversal of fortune under new manager Thomas Tuchel. Wins over Atlético Madrid, Porto, and Real Madrid are what brought them back to the Final. French veteran Olivier Giroud has a team-best 6 goals in the competition.

Which English team will be crowned champions of Europe?

IndyCar's Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor SpeedwaySunday 30th May 4:45PM GMT – Motorsport: 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500

The crown jewel of American motorsport returns for 2021 as the Indy 500 takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway. The 500-mile race begins at 4:45PM GMT on Sunday 30th May 2021.

The Indianapolis 500 is the best of the best when it comes to American open-car racing. 200 laps of the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a race that tests patience, endurance, and driving ability.

With five races completed in the IndyCar Series season, a title battle is most certainly underway. Defending driver’s champion Scott Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Álex Palou have broken away at the top of the standings, with Dixon leading by 13 points. However, third-place Josef Newgarden of Team Penske and fourth-place Patricio O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP both remain within striking distance.

On the grid, Dixon will look to win and increase his lead in the driver’s standings, as well as join the exclusive group of multiple winners of the Indy 500. However, he will have to contend with 2020 race winner Takuma Sato, who will look to become the 11th driver to win the race three times. However, he is not the only one looking to make history. Three-time winner Hélio Castroneves is hoping to become only the fourth person, and the first since 1991, to win the race four times. In total, there are 9 former winners running in the 2021 race.

The Indy 500 is all about patience, and it’s an event you won’t want to miss.

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions from around the globe go to golf, where all the major tours are in action. The LPGA Tour travels to Nevada for the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play, the final event before the Women’s US Open. After the excitement of the PGA Championships, the PGA Tour moves to Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge. It’s off to Denmark for the European Tour as the Made in HimmerLand event gets underway. For the first time since 2014, the Ladies’ European Tour will host the Ladies’ Italian Open.

There is still plenty of football to enjoy. Blackpool and Lincoln City battle for a place in the Championship in the Final of the League One playoffs. One league lower, Morecambe and Newport County face off in the Final of the League Two playoffs. In the NWSL, it’s a busy week for the Portland Thorns, as they face both the Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham FC. Elsewhere in the league, the North Carolina Courage host Racing Louisville FC. In the MLS, LA Galaxy host the San Jose Earthquakes while the New York Red Bulls face Orlando City.

For cricket fans, there’s plenty of County Championship action to enjoy. Durham host Essex while there is action in the War of the Roses rivalry as Lancashire take on Yorkshire. The Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy also returns for 2021, with a match between the Northern Diamonds and Central Sparks kicking off the tournament.

For netball fans, the Vitality Netball Superleague regular season begins to reach its conclusion. Leeds Rhinos will try to find a way into the Finals series as they play the Loughborough Lightning and Surrey Storm. Strathclyde Sirens will attempt to do the same as they face the Celtic Dragons and Saracens Mavericks.

There is plenty of rugby, both union and league, to enjoy. On the rugby union side of things, it’s the third-to-last round of fixtures in the Premiership Rugby season. Sale Sharks host Bristol Bears while Northampton Saints play Wasps. In the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Series, it’s a rematch of the 2014 Super Rugby Final as the Waratahs face the Crusaders. Meanwhile, Munster takes on the Cardiff Blues in the Pro14 Rainbow Cup. It’s also a busy week in Major League Rugby. The Utah Warriors face the Austin Gilgronis, Rugby ATL host the LA Giltinis, and Old Glory DC face off against Rugby United New York. On the rugby league side, it’s another busy week in the Super League. St. Helens face Hull FC while Catalans Dragons take on Wigan Warriors. In the NRL, the Rabbitohs take on the Eels.

There is plenty of ice hockey for fans to enjoy. The NHL playoffs continue, with the first round set to conclude this week. The group stage of the IIHF World Championships also continues this week.

In basketball, the first round of the NBA playoffs continue. Meanwhile, in the WNBA, there is a showdown between two ambitious teams in the New York Liberty and Dallas Wings. On the west coast, the Seattle Storm face the Connecticut Sun.

There is a must-watch series in baseball and the MLB, as the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals face off.

In men’s cycling, the Giro d’Italia comes to an end and the UCI World Tour travels to France for the Critérium du Dauphiné.

There’s more Diamond League action for athletics fans, as the competition heads for Qatar.

There is unmissable tennis as the French Open returns for 2021.

For motorsport fans, it may be an off week for F1, but there is MotoGP action as the season travels to Italy for the Italian Grand Prix.

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

Fixture

Photos by INEOS Grenadiers, Phoenix Suns, Manchester United, Los Angeles Dodgers, Western Bulldogs, Manchester City, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Written and information correct on 23rd May at 9pm GMT

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