This week’s sporting schedule is dominated by footballing action from some of Europe’s top leagues. The thrilling conclusion to the League Two season will play out on Monday as Exeter and Northampton thrash it out at Wembley. Barcelona will test their title credentials against Atletico Madrid. Don’t miss Wednesday’s fiery London derby as West Ham United host Chelsea. The newly crowned Premier League champions return to action on Thursday as Liverpool take on Manchester City. Friday’s offering from the AFL comes in the shape of Collingwood versus Essendon. The weekend is headlined by two unmissable events, with the Highlanders facing the Crusaders in Super Rugby Aotearoa before Sunday’s Austrian F1 Grand Prix.
The League Two play-off Final will be contested on Monday night at Wembley Stadium.
Though the regular League Two season was abandoned in light of the pandemic, the decision was made to go ahead with the playoffs in all three EFL leagues. Both of these sides were involved in thrilling Semi-final clashes, as Exeter overcame a 1-0 first leg deficit to topple Colchester United, whilst Northampton overturned Cheltenham’s 2-0 lead to progress to the final. Exeter will be making their third League Two play-off Final appearance in four seasons, having lost on the previous two occasions. Meanwhile, after just two seasons in the fourth tier of English football, Northampton have the opportunity to return to League One.
In La Liga, Barcelona host Atlético Madrid at Camp Nou in Barcelona.
In one of the stand-out clashes of the La Liga season thus far, Barcelona will look to complete the league double over Atletico Madrid for the first time since the 2015/16 season. Though the Blaugrana remain undefeated since the return of top flight football, they lost ground on Real Madrid after faltering last time out against Celta Vigo, and they will be desperate to return to winning ways on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, having won four of their five post-shutdown fixtures, Atletico have reaffirmed their Champions League credentials, installing a four-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Sevilla. Despite their recent impressive form, Los Rojiblancos haven’t won a league game at Camp Nou since 2006, but will that winless streak be broken on Tuesday night?
The Premier League sees West Ham United face Chelsea at the London Stadium in London.
Two local rivals with vastly differing ambitions will lock horns in London on Wednesday evening. Whilst West Ham have been dragged into a desperate fight for their Premier League survival, Chelsea’s sights are firmly set on Champions League qualification for the second-straight season. Two wins from two league games since the restart has seen Frank Lampard’s side strengthen their stranglehold on fourth spot, closing the gap on Leicester City to just one point. Meanwhile, West Ham are yet to pick up a single point since the resumption, and are now languishing precariously in 17th place, level on points with the two sides directly below. Though Chelsea have proven to be one of the league’s most stubborn tests, the Hammers will have to start picking up points from unlikely places if they are to retain their Premier League status next term.
Manchester City host Liverpool in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
Newly-crowned champions Liverpool return to the field. Now officially champions, Jürgen Klopp’s side will turn their attention to breaking the single-season points record, which sits at 100. To break it, the Reds need 15 points from their final seven matches. Those seven matches begin with a fixture against second-place Manchester City. City’s longshot title race ended in a 2-1 loss to Chelsea last week. However, they hold a comfortable lead over third-place Leicester City and look set to finish second, barring any slip-ups. The future looks uncertain for the Manchester side, with a European football suspension and a number of contracts expiring. However, for now, there is football to be played and a league finish to secure. Be sure to catch this thrilling match.
In the AFL, Collingwood host Essendon at the MCG in Melbourne.
Friday’s titanic AFL clash pits two of the league’s most exciting clubs against each other in one of sport’s grandest arenas. These two former Premiership winners have experienced similar starts to their respective campaigns, with both teams having secured two wins. However, after Essendon’s season was disrupted by a positive Covid test within their camp a fortnight ago, they made a disappointing return to action, narrowly losing out to Carlton after some late drama in the dying seconds of the game. Collingwood also found themselves on the wrong side of the score line last time out, as GWS Giants handed the Magpies their first loss of the season. Both sides will be desperate to put those respective losses behind them and return to winnings ways as they lock horns on Friday.
Super Rugby Aotearoa continues as the Highlanders face the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
The Crusaders entered this special regional tournament as the Super Rugby defending champions and so far, they are looking strong. With two matches played, they are 2-0 with convincing wins over the Hurricanes and Chiefs. The Crusaders have returned with a potent attack, scoring seven tries and 57 points across their opening matches. While still early in the season, they are once more looking like a definite contender. The Highlanders have had a more mixed experience in their tournament start. They enter 1-1 following a loss to the dominant Blues. With most members of their 2015 championship-winning squad gone, the Highlanders are not favourites for the trophy. But anything is possible in this new format tournament. Can the Highlanders pull off the upset?
Formula 1 starts its season with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
The long-awaited first race of the 2020 F1 calendar will take place in Austria this weekend as the world’s elite drivers return to the tarmac. Eight races have been scheduled to take place across a hectic 10-week period as F1 returns to our screens for the first time in seven months. Despite finishing third in the Drivers Championship last season, Max Verstappen will return to Austria as one of the race favourites. The Dutchman has enjoyed immense success at this famous track in recent years, retaining the Austrian GP title in 2019 after his initial success the year prior. However, there will be plenty of stiff competition to Verstappen’s title defence, not least from reigning Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton, who will be desperate to begin the campaign on a positive note.
Honourable mentions around the globe go to the Round Britain Row. Entering the third week of their circumnavigation of Britain, Duncan Roy and Gus Barton continue up Britain’s west coast. It’s another busy week in the world of football. The North Carolina Courage take on the Chicago Red Stars in a major clash in the NWSL Challenge Cup. In La Liga, Getafe will host Real Sociedad before travelling to Real Madrid. Real Madrid will also travel to Athletic Bilbao during the week. The Bilbao side also has a trip to Valencia scheduled. Valencia are due to meet Granada during the week also and there is a great clash between Villarreal and Barcelona. In the Premier League, Crystal Palace continue their hunt for European football as they face Burnley. Burnley will also host Sheffield United. Brighton will host Manchester United while Everton take on Leicester. Sheffield United host Spurs as Wolves challenge Arsenal. Serie A continues with Atalanta hosting Napoli, Lazio facing AC Milan, and a second match for Napoli against Roma. Two play-off candidates will thrash it out in the EFL Championship as Bristol City host Cardiff City. In the AFL, defending champions Richmond travel to play the West Coast Eagles. Current league leaders Port Adelaide journey to Brisbane while the GWS Giants host Hawthorn. The PGA Tour continues with the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. In the NRL, the Storm face the Roosters, the Tigers host the Panthers and Sea Eagles take on the Knights. Super Rugby Australia begins with the Reds facing the Waratahs. And in Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Chiefs take on the Hurricanes.
A week of world class sport awaits. Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!
Photos by Northampton Town Football Club, FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC, Liverpool Football Club, Essendon Football Club, Pulse Energy Highlanders, Max Verstappen
Written and information correct on 28th June at 10pm GMT
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