This Week in Sport: 26th April – 2nd May 2021

Another stellar week across the sporting universe begins in Canada as Monday’s offering pits the Winnipeg Jets up against the Edmonton Oilers in an unmissable NHL showcase. The electrifying IPL takes centre stage on Tuesday when Delhi Capitals will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore. It’s Semifinals week in the UEFA Champions League – Paris Saint-Germain welcome Manchester City to Parc des Princes on Wednesday. Thursday brings us the all-important NFL draft as the fates of the game’s next superstars are decided. 

In one of the standout matchups of the NBA season, the Phoenix Suns do battle with the Utah Jazz on Friday as the Western Conference’s top two lock horns. Another unmissable Semi-final will play out on Saturday this time in the European Rugby Champions Cup as Toulouse and Bordeaux Bègles thrash it out for a spot in the Final. We close the week out with all the glitz and glamour associated with an F1 race weekend, as the world’s driving elite take to the Portimão Circuit to contest the Portugal Grand Prix. 

Monday 26th April 1:00AM GMT (Tuesday 27th) – Ice Hockey: Winnipeg Jets v Edmonton Oilers 

In the NHL’s North Division, the Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Tuesday 27th April 2021 at 1:00AM GMT.

With Winnipeg sitting second and Edmonton residing in third, Monday’s matchup could prove pivotal in the race for playoff positions in the North. For a team that has now lost three on the bounce, Monday’s game can’t come soon enough for the Jets who lost touch with the table-topping Toronto Maple Leafs last week. In the club’s brief history, the Jets have never topped their division, and have notoriously struggled when it comes to competing in the postseason. However, led by centre Mark Scheifele, who has notched 54 points this term, there is real belief in and around Winnipeg that they could finally mount a serious Stanley Cup challenge this term. Can they get their title charge back on track with a Monday triumph? 

Meanwhile, this Edmonton Oilers side are now playing catchup, having failed to find any sort of consistency on the ice in recent outings, particularly when playing away from home. In their last ten road games, the Oilers have won five and lost five, epitomising the season they have endured thus far. However, as we edge into the business end of the season, Edmonton will be buoyed by the fact that they can return to second spot with a win over the Jets on Monday. Fans of an Oilers persuasion will certainly fancy their chances too, with five of the seven meetings between these teams this term going the way of Tuesday’s visitors. Can they keep their playoff charge on track with another impressive scalp?

Tuesday 27th April 2:00PM GMT – Cricket: Delhi Capitals v Royal Challengers Bangalore

Second plays third in this pivotal IPL showdown – play begins at 2:00PM GMT. 

There is a fascinating race to the summit developing in the Indian Premier League, with three teams locked on eight points after five outings in the new campaign. By virtue of their superior net run rate, Capitals currently sit second behind Chennai in first, leaving Royal Challengers in third, but well in striking distance of returning to the top this week. Delhi’s fast start has been thanks in no small part to the batting abilities of one Shikhar Dhawan, who leads the league in runs scored heading into week 6 of the competition. The masterful opener has already notched 251 runs for the season, and has hit 11 more 4s than the next highest boundary-hitter in Faf du Plessis. Will Dhawan be the difference-maker once again in Tuesday’s pivotal matchup?

Whilst Delhi possess the most prolific batsman, Bangalore can boast the most productive bowler this term within their ranks in the shape of Harshal Patel. In just five innings, the right-handed seamer has claimed 15 wickets, more than any other player in the competition. Unfortunately for Patel and his Royal Challengers, his three-wicket haul against CSK last time out was not enough to lead his side to a fifth successive victory, but such has been the impressive start of RCB, they can still return to the summit on Tuesday with a win over Delhi. 

The recent head-to-head record between these two teams will make for good reading for Delhi supporters, with the Capitals winning four straight meetings against RCB. Will they make it five in a row on Tuesday? 

Wednesday 28th April 7:00PM GMT – Football: Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City 

Two global footballing powerhouses lock horns in the Champions League Semifinals – kick-off is at 7:00PM GMT. 

Parc des Princes has hosted its fair share of showpiece occasions, but Wednesday’s game is arguably the biggest of the lot, as PSG look to move one step closer to claiming a maiden Champions League title. Not since 1995 have the French giants hosted a Semi-final in Europe’s elite club competition, and nearly three decades on PSG will be hoping for a different outcome to that of 1995, when they fell at the hands of AC Milan. Last time out, Mauricio Pochettino’s side returned to the summit of Ligue 1 (if only overnight), courtesy of a Kylian Mbappe brace, with the Frenchman netting either side of half time before he fell foul to an injury in the second half. However, the damage is unlikely to rule Mbappe out of Wednesday’s tie, when the 22-year-old will look to add to his eight-goal tally in this year’s competition. 

Meanwhile the newly crowned Carabao Cup champions will continue their quest for the coveted treble, but Wednesday’s opponents will likely prove the biggest stumbling block left this term. City last reached the Champions League Semifinals back in 2016, coincidentally defeating Paris Saint-Germain in the Quarters. However, having faltered at this stage five years ago, City and Pep Guardiola will be looking to go one better this time around to reach the first Champions League Final in the club’s history. For City fans seeking a good omen, look no further than the fact that the Sky Blues have never lost to PSG in European competition, winning one and drawing two of their three previous meetings. Can Guardiola’s men get a foot up in the French capital? 

Thursday 29th April 12:00AM GMT (Friday 30th) – American Football: NFL Draft Day 1

The 2021 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday – tune in to see where the rising stars will ply their trade next term!

All eyes in the American Footballing world will be fixed on Cleveland, Ohio from Thursday this week, as the 2021 NFL Draft is conducted. 

With just the one win on the season last term, the Jacksonville Jaguars will receive the first pick in this year’s draft, as they look to plug some gaps on both sides of the ball. After what was another miserable year for the Jaguars, their raucous fanbase will take solace from the fact that ACC Player of the Year Trevor Lawrence will likely be donning the teal and black of Jacksonville come September. After his Clemson Tigers lost out in this year’s Sugar Bowl to Ohio State, Lawrence declared he would skip his senior year at college to enter the 2021 draft, as the QB looks to test himself against the world’s best in the league next term. 

Meanwhile, having recently traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, there is a quarterback-sized hole left in the New York Jets’ offence, which will likely be filled by BYU Cougars’ Zach Wilson. The 21-year-old shone in a successful season for BYU, who claimed victory in the Boca Raton Bowl last December. Wilson was particular effective in that showpiece game, throwing for 425 yards and three touchdowns to claim the offensive MVP award. Jets fans will be all too eager to usher in a new dynamic QB, after suffering through some torrid offensive displays last term, which saw their team end the season with the fewest passing yards per game by some way. Keep up to date with all the goings on in Cleveland as the 2021 NFL rosters begin to shape up!

Friday 30th April 2:00AM GMT (Saturday 1st) – Basketball: Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz

It’s first versus second in the NBA’s Western Conference as the conference-leading Utah Jazz travel to Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix to face the second-place Phoenix Suns on Saturday 1st May 2021 at 2:00AM GMT.

Heading into a brand-new week of NBA action, there is very little to separate these two franchises at the top of the Western Conference standings. Currently it is Friday’s visitors who hold the initiative, sitting pretty at the summit, 1.5 games ahead of Phoenix in second. Having failed to capitalise on Utah’s slip-up last week, Phoenix will be desperate to return to winning ways and keep pace with the conference-leaders, particularly with the in-form Clippers breathing down their necks in third spot. With their first playoff berth in 11 seasons now all but secured, Phoenix will be looking to finish as high up the rankings as possible to gain the greatest advantage in their first postseason venture since 2009/10.  

If points differential is anything to go by, Utah Jazz have by far and away been the best team in the league this term, as they currently boast a PD of +9.1. Whilst the Jazz remain top of the shop as we head into May, their form has been somewhat indifferent of late, encapsulated by their humiliating 101-96 loss at the hands of the 14th-placed Timberwolves last week. However, with just a handful of games left to be contested in the regular season, Utah will look to rediscover their mid-season form which propelled them to the summit as the franchise looks to take a real stab at claiming their first ever NBA championship this term. 

After Utah enjoyed a run of eight-straight wins over the Suns through 2018 and 2019, Phoenix have seized the initiative in the head-to-head record of late, winning each of the last three meetings, including a thrilling OT triumph earlier this month. 

Saturday 1st May 2:00PM GMT – Rugby Union: Toulouse v Bordeaux Bègles

The first Semi-final of this year’s Champions Cup is an all-French affair – kick-off at Stade Ernest-Wallon comes at 2:00PM GMT .

It’s Semi-final weekend at this year’s European Rugby Champions Cup, with the first tie seeing Toulouse take on Bordeaux Bègles for a spot in the Final later this month. The hosts will be firm favourites to progress on Saturday, with Toulouse boasting the joint-best record at this competition with four titles in all. The French outfit have been thoroughly convincing in their two previous knockout displays, eliminating worthy adversaries in Clermont and Munster en route to this week’s Semi-final showdown. Toulouse returned to winning ways in domestic competition last weekend, overcoming Racing 92 to retain top spot in the Top 14 standings. With their domestic aspirations well on track, Toulouse will be looking to capitalise on a favourable draw on the European stage to round off what could be an historic season for this prestigious club. 

Whilst their opponents will be gunning for a record-breaking fifth title this term, Bordeaux will be celebrating reaching their first ever Champions Cup Semi-final, as they look to bring home major silverware for the first time in the club’s history. Whilst this isn’t necessarily your typical David versus Goliath story, with Bordeaux sitting in sixth spot in Top 14, having lost just two games more than the table-toppers, before a ball is kicked or thrown in anger on Saturday, this fixture appears one of the more one-sided Semifinals in the recent history of this competition. On their last domestic meeting with Toulouse, Bordeaux were handed a 45-23 drubbing at the very same venue they will travel to this weekend. Can they pull off a minor miracle to rewrite the club’s history books? 

Sunday 2nd May 2:00PM GMT – Motorsport: Portugal F1 Grand Prix 

The F1 season travels to the Algarve International Circuit in Portimão for the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday 2nd May at 2:00PM GMT.

Last year’s edition marked F1’s first visit to Portugal in 25 years, with 27,000 fans there to watch on as Lewis Hamilton created history by claiming the 92nd win of his illustrious career. Whilst we are only two weeks into the new season, there is already a thrilling race materialising at the summit of the Driver Standings, with only one point separating the Brit from his closest rival in Max Verstappen.

In what was an electrifying race in Imola last time out, Verstappen ultimately claimed his first win of the campaign with minimal fuss to lay down an early marker in the World Championship race. After spinning out and going off the track, it was looking to be a weekend to forget for reigning champ Lewis Hamilton. However, Hamilton went on to regain second spot in Imola to finish the race top of the driver standings as we head into week 3 of the new season. After the turbulence that surrounded Hamilton’s efforts in Imola last time out, the seven-time world champ will be only too pleased to lead the F1 fraternity across the Portuguese border, where he enjoyed so much success last term. Whilst it wasn’t all plain sailing for the 36-year-old at Portimão last year, Hamilton expertly made his move when it mattered most to become the single most successful racing driver of all time. Whilst the stakes may not be as high this time around, F1’s leading man will be just as desperate to take top spot once again as he looks to keep Verstappen at arm’s length in the early knockings of the campaign. 

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions around the globe begin with an epic sporting endeavour taken on by four friends who are embarking on a 250km row along the west coast of Scotland, all in aid of Hospitality Action in response to the devastating impacts felt by the hospitality industry during the pandemic. Please show your support for the four valiant rowers and follow their progress in the Great Hospo Row!

This week’s NBA action starts in the Mile High City, where the Denver Nuggets will meet the Memphis Grizzlies in another Monday matchup. Meanwhile, the New York Knicks meet the Phoenix Suns on the same day, before the latter return home just two days later to entertain the Los Angeles Clippers. The Philadelphia 76ers will continue their title charge on Wednesday as they take on the Atlanta Hawks, whilst the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers meet in an all-Western showdown. The 76ers and Hawks will share the court for the second time this week on Friday, whilst the Brooklyn Nets take on the Portland Trail Blazers. The high-flying Clippers return to action on Saturday when they will play host to the Denver Nuggets. The Milwaukee Bucks have home advantage over the Nets on Sunday, whilst a busy week for the Trail Blazers culminates in a trip to Boston where they will meet the Celtics on Sunday evening. 

The hectic PDC Tour schedule is headlined by the Super Series 3 (Players Championship 11) and Super Series 3 (Players Championship 12) which play out on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. 

There is plenty going on in the world of football this week, not least the small matter of Real Madrid versus Chelsea – the two sides meet in the Champions League Semifinals on Tuesday. Meanwhile, there is plenty more English representation featuring in the Europa League Semifinals, with Manchester United hosting Roma and Arsenal travelling to take on Villarreal. Two heavyweights will thrash it out in Italy’s Serie A as Lazio host AC Milan on Monday. There are two standout ties taking place in the States this weekend, with Philadelphia Union facing New York City FC in the MLS, whilst North Carolina Courage entertain Orlando Pride in the NWSL. Everton and Aston Villa are Saturday’s headliners in the Premier League, before one of the competition’s most prestigious fixtures plays out on Sunday as Manchester United welcome Liverpool to Old Trafford. There is another Old Firm Derby to look forward to this weekend as Rangers meet Celtic in the SPL. The Women’s Champions League continues on Sunday with the second legs of Barcelona versus PSG and Chelsea versus Bayern Munich playing out. 

The Snooker World Championships will continue to play out from Monday, with action coming from The Crucible throughout the week, leading up to Sunday’s Final. 

The MLB action gets underway in The Big Apple where the New York Mets will entertain the Boston Red Sox through the week. There is more elite baseball action to follow this week in the shape of the Milwaukee Brewers versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Don’t miss the Californian grudge match which pits the San Diego Padres against the San Francisco Giants. 

Tuesday sees the start of the Tour de Romandie get underway on the UCI World Tour, whilst the Eschborn – Frankfurt plays out on Saturday. 

There is more MotoGP action this weekend as the Spain Grand Prix is won and lost in Andalusia.

We head to the capital to kick off proceedings in the NHL this week as the Washington Capitals entertain the New York Islanders on Monday. After their initial meeting on Monday, the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers will do battle once more on Wednesday evening, whilst the Vegas Golden Knights meet the Colorado Avalanche on the same night. The Capitals return to the ice on Thursday when they go up against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

The County Championship season continues from Thursday, with this week’s entertainment being provided by Sussex and Lancashire. There is an international offering starting on the same day, coming in the shape of Sri Lanka versus Bangladesh as the sides contest the 2nd Test. We return to the IPL for the next instalment of elite cricket action as the Mumbai Indians meet the Chennai Super Kings on Saturday. 

Three unmissable golf events get underway on Thursday, starting with the HSBC Women’s World Championship which will be contested on the LPGA Tour at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. The PGA Tour rolls round to Palm Harbor this week where the Valspar Championship will be won and lost across the weekend. Meanwhile, the European Tour takes us to the Canary Islands on Thursday where the Tenerife Open will be battled out. 

Rugby League fans will turn their attentions to GIO Stadium in Canberra on Thursday where the Raiders and Rabbitohs will lock horns in a NRL showdown. This week’s Super League schedule takes us to the DW Stadium where Wigan Warriors will face off with Hull FC. 

There is plenty happening in the world of Rugby Union across the weekend, starting with Friday’s European Rugby Challenge Cup action which pits Leicester Tigers against Ulster Rugby. There is more action from the very same competition the following day which will see Bath Rugby entertain Montpellier, before La Rochelle and Leinster Rugby close the curtain on the weekend’s Champions Cup action on Sunday. The weekend’s Major League Rugby action is headlined by NOLA Gold’s clash with the Toronto Arrows. In Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Blues entertain the Chiefs on Saturday whilst this weekend’s Super Rugby AU schedule features the Brumbies’ meeting with the Force in the Qualifying Final. There is action on the international scene which pits France Women against England Women in an unmissable Test matchup. 

After the decision was made last week to split the ambitious competition into two separate tournaments in Europe and South Africa, the Rainbow Cup SA officially begins this week with the Stormers hosting the Sharks in the curtain-raiser. 

There are two major meets in the Flat Racing calendar taking place on Saturday in the shape of the Kentucky Derby and 2000 Guineas Stakes, with the latter playing out at the prestigious Newmarket Racecourse. The action continues on Sunday with the 1000 Guineas Stakes taking place. 

The WTA Tour takes us to the Spanish capital on Thursday where the Madrid Open will play out across the weekend. Meanwhile, the ATP Tour also takes over Madrid from Sunday as the Madrid Open is contested heading into next week. 

Richmond and Western Bulldogs are two of the headliners at this weekend’s AFL festival – the sides will lock horns on Friday. The Sydney Swans and the Geelong Cats then take centre stage on Saturday as they do battle at the SCG. 

The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Friday when Saracens Mavericks take on Loughborough Lightning at the Copper Box Arena, before Team Bath Netball and Wasps Netball do battle on Sunday. 

Former heavyweight champion of the world Andy Ruiz Jr returns to the ring this Saturday as he goes toe-to-toe with Chris Arreola in California. Meanwhile, two of the most destructive heavyweights in the game are preparing for a date at the Manchester Arena this weekend as Derek Chisora goes up against Joseph Parker. 

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

Fixture

Photos by Edmonton Oilers, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Paris Saint-Germain, NFL, Phoenix Suns, Stade Toulousain Rugby, Red Bull Racing Honda

Written and information correct on 25th April at 10pm GMT

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