This Week in Sport: 2nd – 8th November 2020

We are visiting all four corners of the earth to bring you this week’s eclectic mix of elite sporting action, starting off in Abu Dhabi where playoff-chasing Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore meet in a pivotal final-day showdown. On one of the biggest days in the Flat Racing calendar, Tuesday marks Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse. The State of Origin Series kicks off on Wednesday, as Game 1 between Queensland and New South Wales is contested. There is a pivotal NFL showdown happening in the States on Thursday which will see the San Francisco 49ers lock horns with the Green Bay Packers. Friday’s showpiece event is Day 16 of the captivating Vuelta a España, whilst Saturday marks the commencement of the Semifinals at the Rolex Paris Masters. The week concludes in style as Sunday brings us an absolute blockbuster from the Premier League as challengers Manchester City welcome champions Liverpool to town.

Monday 2nd November 2:00PM GMT – Cricket: Delhi Capitals v Royal Challengers Bangalore

In the penultimate game of the IPL group stage, the Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore fight to stay in the playoff race at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday 2nd November at 2:00PM GMT.

Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will go head-to-head in their final regular season outings in this most irregular season. With the two sides currently sitting third and second respectively, there is plenty riding on Monday’s clash. With a 4-game losing streak, Delhi’s dreadful recent form has dealt their playoff hopes a devastating blow, with the Capitals now sitting four points behind leaders Mumbai. Having lost each of their last four outings, Delhi now must win on Monday to ensure qualification for the playoffs. They are gunning for their highest-ever finish in an IPL season, and a win will secure that coveted second spot.

However, rivalling Delhi for the title of most out-of-form team in the IPL are Royal Challengers, who are winless in three, which leaves their hopes of qualification on a knife-edge, when safe passage seemed a given not so long ago. Like the Capitals, RCB know a win on Monday would guarantee they feature in this year’s postseason, but anything less could see their fate decided by run rate. 

This matchup features several world-class cricketers, including the likes of Virat Kohli, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Iyer,Shikhar Dhawan and Kasigo Rabada. But with confidence at rock bottom throughout both squads, which side will rally to come out on top and decide their own fate?

Tuesday 3rd November 4:00AM GMT – Horse Racing: Melbourne Cup Day

The prestigious Flemington Racecourse will once again play host to this special day of Flat Racing, with the main event getting underway at 4:00AM GMT.  

Though the Melbourne Cup Festival is a spectacle to behold in its own right, Melbourne Cup Day sits right at the centre of the crown as the showpiece event of the entire carnival of racing. With AUD$8 million up for grabs, there’s little wonder this day is shrouded in great anticipation and excitement from millions of fans each and every year.  

On one of the most exciting days in the racing calendar, spectators - virtual or otherwise - will be treated to ten races featuring some of the greatest Group 1 thoroughbreds on the planet. The main event, the Melbourne Cup, will be contested across a 3,200m distance, with 24 runners set to feature in the prestigious race. An Aidan O’Brien trained horse is amongst the favourites to reign supreme down under this week in Anthony Van Dyck, who won the Epsom Derby in 2019. Though there are concerns about his weight load and inexperience at racing over this distance, Anthony Van Dyck is in dazzling form ahead of Tuesday’s showdown, making him one of the horses to beat.

Wednesday 4th November 9:10AM GMT – Rugby League: State of Origin, Game 1

The annual clash between Queensland and New South Wales, the State of Origin series, opens at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide on Wednesday 4th November at 9:10AM GMT.

This year the State of Origin is celebrating its 40th anniversary and, though the format might be slightly different this time around, the fearsome rivalry between QSD and NSW remains as fiery as it always has been. After Queensland’s recent spell of domination, which saw them win 11 of the 12 State of Origin series’ between 2006 and 2017, the New South Wales Blues have since won the last two, and are eyeing their first three-peat since the early 2000s.

Though the Blues will be strong favourites to lift the title in two weeks’ time, it is the Maroons who have historically got off on the right foot, having won the opening game in seven of the last 11 series. Manly Sea Eagles stalwart and captain Daly Cherry-Evans will captain Queensland, but one of the key talking points ahead of the series opener is the return of Wayne Bennett who will be navigating Queensland through a State of Origin series for the first time since 2003. The veteran coach has previous experience of winning this coveted title with the Maroons, doing so most recently in 2001. However, with the Blues posting a glitzy-looking squad list, which includes last year’s Wally Lewis Medal winner James Tedesco as well as Australia and Sydney Roosters captain Boyd Cordner once again at captain, can Bennett work his magic once again, or will NSW win a third straight title?

Thursday 5th November (1:20AM GMT Friday 6th) – American Football: San Francisco 49ers v Green Bay Packers

Two ambitious NFL sides clash in this Thursday Night Football classic as the San Francisco 49ers face the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

The 4-4 49ers will be desperate to find some form on their home patch when they welcome the 5-2 Packers to Santa Clara. Last year’s Super Bowl runners-up have been disappointing at Levi’s Stadium so far this term, winning just one of their first four outings there. However, Thursday’s game is a chance to restore some home pride as San Francisco look to remain competitive in a truly testing NFC West, despite being bogged down by injuries. Being the only division in the entire league where all four teams currently boasting a .500 record or better, the 49ers have a lot of work to do if they are to catch frontrunners Seattle and make a push for the postseason.

Despite throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns, Aaron Rodgers found himself on the losing side for just the second time this term, as the Packers fell to the Vikings. Meanwhile, San Francisco also suffered defeat in Week 8, leaving them with it all to do if they are to muster a repeat of last season’s Super Bowl run. However, recent head-to-head matchups between these two sides strongly favour the 49ers, who have won their last two meetings with Green Bay.

Friday 6th November 11:00AM GMT – Cycling: Vuelta a España, Stage 16

As we near the end of the race, stage 16 of the Vuelta a España takes the riders from Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo on Friday 6th November, starting at 12:00PM GMT.

Cycling fans the world over continue to be captivated by the goings on in Spain as the Vuelta a España rolls on. As we enter the business end of this year’s race, Friday will see Stage 16 play out, after which just two stages will remain, so this is one of the final opportunities for riders to climb the standings. There are many intriguing factors that could alter the course of this race, not least the hilly terrain that defines this particular stage. The riders will set off south-west from the university town of Salamanca, where the prevailing winds could also play a part and make the early exchanges particularly challenging.

There will be little let up for the peloton as they head towards the small city of Ciudad Rodrigo, a stone’s throw from the Portuguese border. Riders will be faced with hills of 4% gradient, with any slip in concentration likely to be severely punished. After a very late push in Stage 12, England’s Hugh Carthy ran out on top on Sunday to claim his first ever Grand Tour victory. However, Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz remains atop the general classification heading into the third week of action at the 75th La Vuelta. Can the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner retain top spot, or will the chasing pack close the gap? You won’t want to miss a second of the action!

Saturday 7th November 10:45am GMT – Tennis: Rolex Paris Masters Semifinals

Which players will feature in this year’s Paris Masters Semifinals? Tune in to the ATP Tour action all week long to find out!

As is often the case when he plies his trade on French soil, Rafael Nadal goes into this week’s proceedings as the overwhelming favourite to reign supreme on Sunday. Though the Masters will be contested on the hard indoor courts of the AccorHotels Arena rather than the clay of Roland Garros, Nadal still knows his way around this competition, having reached the Quarterfinals or better in each of his seven appearances. However, he has still yet to reach a final in this competition. 

The Spaniard is faced with a far trickier route to the Semi’s than he might have hoped for, with Alexander Zverev - the young German superstar - and David Goffin - who has had a forgettable year so far - two of the most likely candidates to rain on Rafa’s parade as he eyes a first Paris Masters title. With Dominic Thiem joining Novak Djokovic on the withdrawal list, two of the top three ranked players will be absent this week, potentially paving the way for a new star to steal the limelight. Will we see an unfamiliar name in this year’s Semi’s, or will the usual suspects feature heavily on Saturday? Tune in to find out!

Sunday 8th November 4:30PM GMT – Football: Manchester City v Liverpool

The two Premier League title favourites finally cross swords on Sunday from 4:30PM GMT.

Over the past three seasons, these two Premier League juggernauts have spurred each other on to reach quite astronomical standards. The league-winning points totals of 99, 98 and 100 across the past three seasons are the three highest ever recorded in the league’s history, as Liverpool and Manchester City continue to rewrite the history books. Though there is a general consensus that these two sides will be far from those extraordinary tallies this time round, City and Liverpool still remain the two favourites to finish top of the shop this term.

The Sky Blues are yet to win consecutive games in the Premier League this year but, having overcome Sheffield United last time out, Guardiola’s men will have a chance to eradicate that unwanted record this weekend. They have found success in Europe this season and their new signings of Rúben Dias, Nathan Aké and Ferran Torres seem to be working out.

Meanwhile, despite their ongoing injury woes, Liverpool are currently leading the way in England’s top tier, as Jurgen Klopp continues to work miracles with his depleted squad. At this stage last term, the Reds were five points better off, but a win over City on Sunday could see them move eight points clear of their title rivals. Ahead of kick-off, this match pits first against ninth – but who will come out on top come May?

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions from around the globe this week go to the Premier League, which will initially provide a Monday night offering in the shape of Leeds United versus Leicester City. The Foxes return to top-flight action at the weekend as they take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, whilst Arsenal play host to Aston Villa and Everton face Manchester United in the other two notable affairs. The Champions League continues this week with two clashes heading the bill, as Real Madrid entertain Inter Milan and Chelsea welcome Rennes to SW6. There is plenty of European royalty in Europa League action this week too, with Benfica taking on Rangers, AC Milan facing Lille and Feyenoord tussling with CSKA Moscow in three of the standout games. The long, long road to Wembley begins on Friday night as Harrogate Town play host to Lancashire-based Skelmersdale United in the FA Cup first-round proper. One of the fiercest rivalries in German football will be reignited this weekend in Bundesliga as ‘Der Klassiker’ is contested between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich on Saturday night. In their final outing of the regular MLS season, Los Angeles FC will face off with fellow Finals series contenders Portland.

There is some international cricket as well as plenty of domestic action across the globe to watch out for this week, starting with the final ODI clash between Pakistan and Zimbabwe as they go head-to-head in the 3rd ODI before their T20 series starts on Saturday. There is plenty more action for T20 fans to digest, including Brisbane Heat’s clash with Sydney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League. There is a colossal week of IPL action to sink your teeth into, starting with Tuesday’s clash between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians in the final regular season game. Thursday will then see Qualifier 1 play out at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, before Friday’s Eliminator match. Then, Qualifier 2 will take place on Sunday night to determine who will feature in next week’s Final.

Which of snooker’s elite will gain ultimate bragging rights this week? Tune in all week long to the Champion of Champions competition to find out! With the likes of Jimmy White and John Higgins in action on Day 1, this is an event not to be missed!

There are two unmissable Pro14 Rugby offerings this week which will see Cardiff Blues take to the Rodney Parade field with Ulster, before Ospreys and Leinster Rugby take the limelight on Sunday and Australia and New Zealand clash again in the Rugby Championship.

The exciting International Swimming League continues this week.

On the ATP World Tour, the Rolex Paris Masters will begin in earnest on Monday and conclude with Sunday’s Final.

This week’s MotoGP action concerns the European Grand Prix which will play out at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Cheste, Spain.

Fans of Sumo Wrestling are in for a treat on Sunday as the sport’s elite competitors congregate at Fukuoka Kokusai Center for Day 1 of the 2020 November Tournament.

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

Fixture

Photos by Delhi Capitals, Victoria Racing Club, Queensland Maroons, San Francisco 49ers, La Vuelta, Rolex Paris Masters, Liverpool Football Club

Written and information correct on 1st November at 9pm GMT

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