This Week in Sport: 9th – 15th March 2020

** The global sporting schedule has been deeply affected by concerns over COVID-19 **

Another unmissable week of sport lies ahead, with the action starting in Salt Lake City as the Utah Jazz host the Toronto Raptors in a pivotal NBA showdown. The most iconic event in the Jump racing calendar gets underway on Tuesday as Cheltenham Racecourse opens its doors for the Cheltenham Festival 2020. Wednesday brings us another heavyweight clash from Europe’s top table as Liverpool tussle with Atlético Madrid for a place in the last eight. It’s time for the PGA Tour’s flagship event as the tour’s best meet for The Players Championship. One of cricket’s most intense rivalries will be under the spotlight on Friday as Australia host New Zealand in the 1st ODI of their series. The Six Nations concludes on Saturday as Ireland lock horns with France. Finally, the curtain will rise on the new Formula 1 season on Sunday as the Australian Grand Prix plays out.

Monday 9th March 1:00AM GMT (Tuesday 10th) – Basketball: Utah Jazz v Toronto Raptors

In the NBA, the Utah Jazz meet the Toronto Raptors at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

Looking for their fourth consecutive playoff berth, the Utah Jazz have excelled this season. Set to comfortably surpass their 50 wins from last season, they have managed to shine in a competitive Western Conference. Leading the team is third-year shooting guard, Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, the high point of a young and exciting Jazz team, has electrified the league and is hitting 24 points per game. Meanwhile, the defending champion Raptors are fighting to stay towards the top of a hyper-competitive Eastern Conference. Pascal Siakim has stepped into the void left by Kawhi Leonard and is putting up 23 points per game. However, the team has struggled as of late and will be looking to bounce back. Which of these ambitious teams will win out today? Tune in to find out.

Tuesday 10th March 10:30AM GMT – Horse Racing: The Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival, one of horse racing’s biggest events, begins at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham.

The world’s biggest jump-racing event opens its doors Tuesday morning for four days of exceptional horse racing. Racing begins in the early afternoon, with the first major race, the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, scheduled for 3:30PM (GMT). Each day of the festival is a mix of lower grade races scheduled around a feature race. All of this builds up to the biggest race at the festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday. In that race, Al Bourn Photo will look to defend his title. However, he will face fierce competition from the likes of promising racers like Santini. From racing novices to diehard fans, there’s something for everyone at Cheltenham. Be sure not to miss the action.

Wednesday 11th March 8:00PM GMT – Football: Liverpool v Atlético Madrid

Liverpool host Atlético Madrid for their second leg of their Champions League tie at Anfield in Liverpool.

Liverpool will hope to utilise home advantage once again in the Champions League as they look to overturn the first leg deficit to Atlético. Despite dominating possession for much of the initial meeting, Jürgen Klopp’s men succumbed to an early Saúl goal which was enough to give the Spanish side an advantage going into Wednesday’s second leg. Liverpool are no strangers to comebacks in this competition, however, and will hope for another historic night in front of the Kop. But, Atlético manager Diego Simeone has lost just one Champions League tie after winning the first leg during his tenure in Madrid. Can the Argentinian tactician mastermind another colossal European scalp?

** The Players Championship has been cancelled after the first round due to concerns over COVID-19 ** 

Thursday 12th March 1:00PM GMT – Golf: The Players Championship

The PGA Tour heads to TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach for The Players Championship.

The highest paying tournament on the PGA Tour will begin on Thursday as the world’s greatest golfers descend on TPC Sawgrass eyeing the lion’s share of the hefty purse. Whilst most of the Tour’s elite players will be testing their mettle this weekend, one man who is set to miss out is two-time winner Tiger Woods who is sidelined due to injury. One man who will be featuring this weekend is reigning champion and world number one Rory McIlroy who is enjoying a magnificent season. McIlroy has finished in the top five in each of his last seven outings on the Tour and remains the man to beat in Florida this weekend.

Friday 13th March 3:30AM GMT – Cricket: Australia v New Zealand (1st ODI)

Australia open their tour against New Zealand with an ODI at the SCG in Sydney.

Australia will look to bounce back from a poor series against South Africa as they take on age-old rivals New Zealand. The Baggy Greens were taken apart by a superior South Africa side last time out, losing all three of their ODI meetings. However, Australia remain one of the most dangerous teams in the world and undoubtedly have the resources to put New Zealand to the sword. However, the hosts will be weary of the firepower within their opponents’ bowling ranks, particularly in the shape of number one ranked ODI bowler Trent Boult. The 30-year-old goes into this crucial showdown on the back of some excellent displays against India. Don’t miss a second of this mouth-watering matchup!

* The Six Nations match between France and Ireland has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns *

Saturday 14th March 8:00PM GMT – Rugby Union: France v Ireland

France end their Six Nations campaign against Ireland at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

Two of the competition’s stand-out teams finally cross paths on Saturday in Paris. France will be desperate to return to winning ways this weekend having faltered in Scotland last time out. That disappointing display left them second in the standings, level on points with England but with an inferior point difference. However, the French have been in imperious form on home turf throughout this campaign, beating both England and Italy at the Stade de France. Meanwhile, after Ireland’s game against Italy was postponed, they reside fourth in the standings and have it all to do if they are to lift the title.

** The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19 **

Sunday 15th March 5:10AM GMT – Motorsport: F1 Australian Grand Prix

The 2020 FI season begins with the Australian Grand Prix at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne.

Defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton stands of the precipice of history. If the British Mercedes driver defends his title, he will match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Drivers’ Championships. If he wins in Melbourne today, he will be just six race wins behind Schumacher’s record of 91. However, Hamilton may be facing a new challenger to his throne. In preseason testing, it was Red Bull who were finishing second to Mercedes. This could mean that Max Verstappen is ready to build off an excellent 2019 and challenge the racing status quo. Verstappen finished third in 2019, a season that included wins in Austria and Germany. Could the young Dutchman bring down Hamilton? Start your engines and get ready for a thrilling opening race.

Other sporting highlights from around the globe

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NBA where plenty more crucial fixtures will play out this week. Runaway Eastern Conference leaders, the Milwaukee Bucks travel to face the Denver Nuggets, before facing the Celtics in Boston later in the week. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are back in action on Wednesday night as they take on the Dallas Mavericks, whilst the OKC Thunder entertain the Utah Jazz and the LA Lakers meet the Houston Rockets. There is an abundance of football to watch out for this week, starting with Monday’s offering from the Premier League as Leicester City host Aston Villa. There is more top flight action at the weekend as Manchester City host Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur meet Manchester United in north London. England face Spain and USA meet Japan in the SheBelieves Cup on Tuesday. In the Champions League, Atalanta will look to retain their healthy advantage over Valencia as the two sides meet in the second leg. Meanwhile, Tottenham must overturn their one goal deficit to RB Leipzig as Jose Mourinho looks to keep his Champions League hopes alive in Germany. There is more action from Europe’s top table on Wednesday as PSG host Borussia Dortmund, with the visitors clinging onto a narrow advantage in the tie. In the Scottish Premiership, Rangers take on Celtic at Ibrox. In the Six Nations Rugby, Wales host Scotland at the Principality Stadium. In Sumo Wrestling, the March Tournament plays out all week long. There is also some badminton on offer this week as the curtain rises on the All England Open. India host South Africa for the 1st and 2nd ODIs, whilst Australia meet New Zealand on Sunday for the 2nd ODI. The 2020 FIG Individual Apparatus World Cup begins on Thursday in Baku and concludes on Sunday. There is plenty of unmissable Rugby League action on Saturday as the Rabbitohs meet the Sharks and the Panthers host the Roosters in the return of the NRL, whilst Catalans Dragons meet Leeds Rhinos in a Super League showdown. Finally, the Track Cycling Six Day Series begins on Friday in Manchester and will conclude on Sunday.

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

Fixture

Photos by Toronto Raptors; Cheltenham Racecourse; Liverpool Football Club; THE PLAYERS; Irish Rugby; Formula 1

Written and information correct on 8th March at 10pm GMT

 

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