This Week in Sport: 7th – 13th December 2020

This week’s festive fixture list starts with a trip to Arizona as the homeless San Francisco 49ers entertain the Buffalo Bills in the NFL. There is plenty left to play for across the final two nights of Champions League group stage action. Firstly, RB Leipzig take on Manchester United, with a draw enough for the visitors to secure progression in this competition, whilst Real Madrid must beat Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday night if they are to continue dining at Europe’s top table this term. 

The U.S. Women’s Open Championship will be contested across the weekend, with the LPGA Tour’s showpiece event playing out at Champions Golf Club in Houston. The return of European Rugby Champions Cup action will be brought in with a showcase affair on Friday as Ulster entertain Toulouse. 

Anthony Joshua will hope to avoid another slip up on his road to unification as he enters the ring with Kubrat Pulev on Saturday night. The week concludes with another heavyweight showdown as the Buffalo Bills lock horns with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. 

Monday 7th December 1:15AM GMT (Tuesday 8th) – American Football: San Francisco 49ers v Buffalo Bills  

Monday Night Football in the NFL sees two ambitious teams face off as the San Francisco 49ers host the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Tuesday 7th December at 1:15AM GMT.

This week’s Monday night NFL offering pits the 49ers against the Bills in a cross-Conference classic. The dizzy heights of Super Bowl LIV seem a distant memory now for San Francisco supporters, with their side currently propping up the NFC West. But, after snapping a three-game losing streak in their win over the Rams last time out, can the 49ers build some momentum as we head into the business end of the regular season?

The mood is a little more jovial in Buffalo, with the Bills currently setting the pace in the AFC East having won four of their last five matches. The dynamic one-two offensive punch of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs has had Bills fans purring all season, with the duo having combined for four touchdowns and 945 yards already. The last edition of this fixture played out way back in 2016, on which occasion the Bills ran out 45-16 winners, but which side will come out on top this week? 

Tuesday 8th December 8:00PM GMT – Football: RB Leipzig v Manchester United 

At Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, RB Leipzig and Manchester United will likely decide the winner of their Champions League group on Tuesday 7th December at 8:00PM GMT.

Currently sitting third in Group H, RB Leipzig have left themselves with plenty to do on their final group stage outing this week. It is a straight shootout in Leipzig, with the winner booking their spot in the last 16, and the loser likely left to ply their trade in the Europa League. However, having lost out to United on Matchweek 2, should Tuesday’s clash end all square, it will be the English side who progress on account of their superior head-to-head record. Leipzig are looking to emulate their run to the Semifinals last term, and they will be buoyed ahead of Tuesday’s tie by their impressive display at the weekend which saw them take a point off of Bayern Munich.

Manchester United’s away form has been baffling to say the least. Whilst, on paper, five-straight league wins on the road makes for good reading for those of a United persuasion, they will be all too aware that in each of those victories the Red Devils fell behind in the first half. As the level of competition takes a step up on the European stage, many fear this bad habit of conceding first could ultimately be their downfall. However, the United camp will have fond memories of playing this week’s opposition, having made light work of the German outfit at Old Trafford, breezing to a 5-0 win. United are looking to reach the round of 16 for the third time in as many attempts in recent years, but can they prevail in Saxony this week?

Wednesday 9th December 8:00PM GMT – Football: Real Madrid v Borussia Mönchengladbach

In one of the closest groups of the Champions League this season, Real Madrid host Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano in Madrid on Wednesday 8th December at 8:00PM GMT.

It has been a taxing season for Real Madrid supporters so far. Domestically, they have already lost as many games as they did in the entirety of the previous campaign, and their displays in Europe have offered very little respite. Zinedine Zidane’s men head into the final round of group stage matches in third place in Group B, meaning they have to get something from Wednesday’s game if they are to progress. When competing in the Champions League under its current guise, Madrid have never failed to qualify for the last 16, and have reached the knockout phases in 23-straight seasons. 

Meanwhile, Mönchengladbach are on the brink of securing qualification to the round of 16 for the first time in the club’s history. Whilst a point would guarantee safe passage out of Group B, should Shakhtar Donetsk draw with Inter Milan, Mönchengladbach’s progression would be secured, regardless of what happens in Madrid. The German side have been one of the competition’s surprise packages so far, having found the net 16 times already – no team has scored more in this year’s group stages. Who will progress from a finely poised Group B? Tune in to find out! 

Thursday 10th December 3:00PM GMT – Golf: U.S. Women’s Open Championship Day 1 

One of the highlights of the LPGA Tour calendar gets underway as the US Women’s Open begins at the Champions Golf Cub in Houston, Texas on Thursday 9th December at 3:00PM GMT.

The global stars of ladies’ golf will descend on Champions Golf Club in Houston this weekend to contest the highly anticipated U.S. Open. Featuring within the star-studded 156-woman field are nine former U.S. Open champions, including last year’s winner Jeongeun Lee6, who is looking to become the first woman to successfully defend her U.S. Open title since Karrie Webb in 2001. However, going off her recent form, there is little to suggest the South Korean will reign supreme in Houston this weekend, with her best finish on Tour this year being 34th at the Australian Open. 

Out to dethrone the reigning champ will be a whole host of worthy competitors, not least the world number one Jin Young Ko, who will head to Houston as one of the firm favourites. The South Korean displayed something close to her best golf at last weekend’s Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, shooting four under to record yet another top ten finish. A win this weekend would represent Ko’s third major victory and the world number one’s first in the U.S. Open. Sei Young Kim is another player to look out for. Will we see a familiar name hoist the trophy on Sunday, or can one of the 42 debutants upset the apple cart? Tune in all weekend long to find out!

Friday 11th December 8:00PM GMT – Rugby Union: Ulster v Toulouse 

The European Rugby Champions Cup gets underway on Friday night with a showstopping clash from Kingspan Stadium – kick off comes at 8:00PM GMT. 

Just 55 days after last year’s Final was contested, the new European Rugby Champions Cup will start in earnest on Friday night with a show stopping affair. 1999 champions Ulster will test their title credentials against the most successful team in the competition’s history in Toulouse. The French side have won four titles in all, but haven’t appeared in the competition’s final since 2010 – the year they last went all the way. Having stumbled at the Semi-final stage last year, Toulouse will be desperate to go one better this time round, and they will look to set out their stall in a testing opening outing in Belfast.

Meanwhile, Ulster will head into Friday’s curtain-raiser full of confidence as they look to double their trophy tally in this competition this term. The Belfast-based giants are the form team in Pro14 Rugby just now, and remain the only unbeaten team left in the competition after eight games. However, Toulouse’s impressive run to the Semifinals last term was at Ulster’s expense, as the two sides met in a one-sided Quarter-final which saw Toulouse run out 36-8 victors. Will Ulster exact revenge in this fiery season opener, or will Toulouse lay down an early-season marker?  

Saturday 12th December 10:30PM GMT – Boxing: Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev

Anthony Joshua makes his long-awaited return to the ring on Saturday night – ring walks are expected around 10:30PM GMT. 

Anthony Joshua faces just one more hurdle to scale in the shape of 6’4’’ Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, before the two-time world champion can start dreaming of a potential unification bout with Tyson Fury. After plying his trade in New York and Diriyah in his two-fight series with Andy Ruiz Jr, ‘AJ’ will be fighting on home soil on Saturday for the first time since 2018. London has been a happy hunting ground for Joshua throughout his career, with the 31-year-old winning each of his fights in the capital by KO or TKO.

Meanwhile, Kubrat Pulev will be in unchartered territory on Saturday night, having never fought a professional bout on British soil. However, with 29 fights and 28 wins under the Bulgarian’s belt, could Pulev be the second man to dethrone Joshua? ‘The Cobra’ has previous experience of competing in a showpiece title fight, having lost out in 2015 to Wladimir Klitschko who successfully defended the same four belts up for grabs this Saturday. Will it be a happy homecoming for ‘AJ’, or will Pulev spoil the party in north-west London?

Sunday 13th December 1.20AM GMT (Monday 14th) – American Football: Buffalo Bills v Pittsburgh Steelers 

This promises to be a marquee matchup in the NFL as the Buffalo Bills challenge the seemingly unstoppable Pittsburgh Steelers at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, New York on Monday 13th December at 1:20AM GMT.

After their cross-country excursion earlier in the week, Buffalo Bills will return home this weekend to take on the high-flying Pittsburgh Steelers. Only the Steelers have won more games at home than Buffalo, whose only loss at Bills Stadium came at the hands of the Kansas City back in October. Since the turn of the century, the Bills hold a torrid record when it comes to postseason football, having reached the playoffs on just two occasions, with both runs ending in the Wild Card Round. However, those two playoff berths came in the last three seasons, and there is growing belief in and around the league that Buffalo could cultivate their first deep run in the playoffs since 1993 this term. 

Looking to burst the Buffalo bubble is a Pittsburgh side who have swept aside all that has stood before them this season. There is very little reason for Bills fans to be optimistic when studying the head-to-head record of these two teams, with the Steelers winning 10 of the last 12 meetings. Furthermore, after winning their first 11 games of the campaign, members of the Pittsburgh camp will start dreaming up designs of a first ever unbeaten season for the Steelers, as they eye Super Bowl glory for the first time since 2009.

Other sporting highlights from around the globe 

Honourable mentions from around the globe firstly go to the NFL, where we will be treated to a repeat of the 2019 Super Bowl matchup on Thursday as the Los Angeles Rams do battle with the New England Patriots. Sunday’s hectic bill is topped by two unmissable clashes, as the Miami Dolphins face the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs, whilst the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lock horns with the Minnesota Vikings. Meanwhile, there is plenty more NCAA College Football action playing out this week, as the Miami Hurricanes clash with the North Carolina Tar Heels in one of the standout affairs. 

There is plenty of English football to sink your teeth into this week too, starting with Leeds United’s meeting with West Ham in a Friday night showdown. The latest edition of the Black Country derby will play out on Saturday as Wolverhampton Wanderers play host to Aston Villa at Molineux. Another rivalry will be reignited on Saturday evening as Manchester United welcome Manchester City to Old Trafford. Two more top teams tussling for position in the Premier League are Everton and Chelsea, who meet at Goodison Park on Saturday night. There are plenty more goings on across the continent this week, not least the small matter of Inter Milan versus Shakhtar Donetsk, as the rollercoaster that is Group B reaches the end of the line. Another Champions League showdown sees Lazio take on Club Brugge, with the winner securing qualification to the knockout phases. Dreams of qualification are still very much alive for Ajax and Atalanta – the two sides meet at the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday night. The last bit of business to sort out in the Champions League group stages concerns Red Bull Salzburg and Atletico Madrid who face off on Wednesday, with a ticket to the last 16 up for grabs. There are plenty of loose ends to be tied on a hectic Thursday night of Europa League action, with four epic matchups topping the bill. Winner takes all as Wolfsberg take on Feyenoord, Maccabi Tel-Aviv face Sivasspor and Young Boys entertain Cluj. Meanwhile, there’s a similar equation to be solved in Group B as Rapid Wien entertain Molde, with the visitors only needing a draw to progress. Attentions will return to Europe’s domestic leagues on Saturday, as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid thrash it out in one of La Liga’s fiercest rivalries. Meanwhile, Lazio and Verona meet in a pivotal Serie A showdown on the same day. The second MLS Conference Final will play out on Monday as the Seattle Sounders compete with Minnesota for a spot in Saturday’s MLS Cup Final. 

With the European Rugby Champions Cup starting in earnest on Friday night, there are plenty of fixtures scheduled for this weekend. Saturday’s action is headlined by three fixtures as the Bristol Bears face ASM Clermont Auvergne, RC Toulon take on Sale Sharks and Montpellier entertain Leinster Rugby. Two more unmissable matchups will play out from the same competition on Sunday, as Exeter Chiefs lock horns with Glasgow Warriors and Racing 92 meet Connacht Rugby. Meanwhile, Western Province and Pumas will do battle in a crucial Currie Cup showdown, before Sharks and Bulls take the stage in Saturday’s matchup. 

Snooker fans will be treated to some more elite competition this week, as the Scottish Open plays out at Marshall Arena.  

There is an all-British boxing bout scheduled for Friday night, as Sam Eggington goes toe-to-toe with Ashley Theophane. 

This week’s entertainment from the world of cricket will initially be provided by South Africa and England, as the pair complete the ODI Series (pending COVID regulations). Attentions will then turn to the highly-anticipated return of the Big Bash League on Thursday, as Hobart Hurricanes meet Sydney Sixers in the curtain-raiser. Later in the week, New Zealand and West Indies will return to the field as they compete in the 2nd Test

Four days of captivating gymnastic action will begin on Thursday as the Men’s European Artistic Championships get underway in Mersin.

The U.S. Women’s Open Championship will play out across the weekend on the LPGA Tour, with the action coming to you from Champions Golf Club in Houston. Meanwhile, the final event of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai will also take place across the weekend as the DP World Tour Championship is contested. Elsewhere, the PGA Tour takes us to Florida this weekend as the captivating QBE Shootout plays out at Tiburón Golf Club.

There is a major event in the world of ocean rowing starting this weekend in the shape of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Watch out for the Latitude 35 team who look in great shape for their row across the Atlantic and are proudly sponsored by Fixture Calendar.

The Formula 1 season will reach its thrilling conclusion on Sunday as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix plays out. 

UFC 256 is headlined by Deiveson Figeuiredo’s clash with Brandon Moreno as the former eyes a second successful flyweight title defence. 

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

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Photos by Buffalo Bills, Manchester United, Real Madrid C.F., LPGA Tour, Ulster Rugby, Anthony Joshua, Pittsburgh Steelers

Written and information correct on 6th December at 9pm GMT

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