With the brief but entertaining international rugby break coming to an end, Super Rugby gets back on track this weekend; the Euro 2016 tournament gets into the business-end of things, and there’s some great tennis on with Wimbledon heating up. Here’s the 5 big matches you need to see:
Chiefs v Crusaders
The Chiefs and Crusaders currently sit on top of the New Zealand Conference and this is a massive game for both sides. The Crusaders have lost just two games this season and they will go into this clash as clear favourites, but they have lost their past three games against the Chiefs. The Chiefs went into the midseason break on the back of a disappointing loss to the Waratahs and they have been a touch inconsistent this season, but when they’ve fired, they have been absolutely devastating to defences. As these NZ derby clashes usually go, this should be a cracker.
Prediction: Chiefs by 5
Rebels v Stormers
This will be just the fourth ever meeting between the Rebels and the Stormers but one that is as difficult to call as ever. The Rebels ended a three game losing streak with a win against the Western Force and they still have a chance to finish on top of the Australian Conference, but they will start this game as underdogs. The Stormers have been one of the most inconsistent sides in Super Rugby this season and their form on the day has been relatively unpredictable. The Stormers should have the experience and defensive prowess to hold ou the Rebels for a win, but playing away from home is always difficult.
Prediction: Stormers by 3
Lions v Sharks
The Lions scored an upset victory over the Sharks earlier this season and another victory would lengthen their lead at the top of the African Conference. The Joburg side has been the in-form South African team this season, and with their star Springboks back in the fold, minus captain Warren Whitley, they should have enough to topple the Durban side. In saying that, they face a difficult assignment against a Sharks side that has a more than credible record away from home. The Sharks have won three of their five games as away underdogs this season, but without the Patrick Lambie and Willie le Roux, the Sharks may be out of their depth at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Prediction: Lions by 10
Germany v Italy
World Cup holders Germany have the chance to further their ambitions and reign victorious on the European stage this season when they meet Italy in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 on Saturday. Joachim Low’s side have won all but one of their matches in the tournament in France so far – a goalless draw against Poland in the group stages – and their 3-0 victory over Slovakia in the last 16 showed they are moving into top gear at just the right time. But Antonio Conte’s Italy team will be difficult opposition to overcome, with the Azzurri having disposed of reigning European champions Spain 2-0 in Paris – while doing the same to Germany in the 2012 European semi-finals.
Prediction: 1-0 to Germany
France v Iceland
Following their incredible win over England, Iceland will be looking to take their unlikely fairytale one step further with a win over tournament hosts, France. Iceland have already shown that this particular team does have something special, but the French have an incredible amount of quality too – being a well-drilled and disciplined side capable of scoring goals from anywhere. It’s a tough one to call, but with the home crowd advantage, France may have the edge.
Prediction: 2-1 to France
What match are you most excited for this weekend? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us at @MenStuffZA.