Words by: Elan Solomon & Jeremy Proome
This weekend sees some action heat-up in the Premier League, as Liverpool’s storming start to the season is potentially set to continue against Leicester, while their historic rivals United will have to fight tooth-and-nail to stop their slide down the table against Burnley. The rugby side of things sees a break in the Rugby Championship, allowing the Currie Cup and Pro 14 to have its share of the limelight; but, looking at the weekend as a whole, which games should you keep a close eye on?
Leicester City v Liverpool
Premier League | Saturday, 13:30
Liverpool have made the start that everyone expected them to after their notable investment in their squad over the summer, taking maximum points from their previous three games. Leicester, although they’re a far cry from their surprise title-winning side, are still a dangerous force and will be a sterner test for Liverpool away from home. Mo Salah is still waiting to hit his stride after having a blockbuster debut season last year, but sooner or later, he’ll find his rhythm again and Liverpool’s front three will be scoring freely – Leicester need to hope that he doesn’t move up the gears against them this weekend.
Predicted result: Leicester City 1 – 3 Liverpool
Blue Bulls v Golden Lions
Currie Cup | Saturday, 16:05
After the Blue Bulls were defeated by the Sharks last weekend, they now host the Lions, who are coming off a strong 62-41 victory over the Griquas in Johannesburg last weekend. That said, the scoreline the Lions produced showcased some defensive frailties, letting in far too many tries than they should’ve. The Bulls will see this as an area to focus on, so Ivan van Rooyen’s side will need to tighten up when the Pretoria side are on the attack. It should be an interesting encounter that’ll test the strength of two well-organised sides to see who has some playoff credentials for this season.
Predicted result: Lions by 5.
Munster v Cheetahs
Pro 14 | Saturday, 18:15
The Cheetahs will have their sights set on progressing to the semi-finals in this year’s Pro 14 after going down in the quarter final last season. The clash between the SA side and 2017/18 semi-finalists, Munster, is expected to be gripping, especially with two former Springbok assistant coaches at the helm, in Franco Smith and Johann van Graan respectively. The fact that the Irish outfit includes a number South African squad members, such as Arno Botha, Jaco Taute, CJ Stander and Chris Cloete, is expected to spice up the clash.
Predicted result: Munster by 5.
AC Milan v Roma
Serie A | Saturday, 20:30
The Serie A is undergoing a bit of a resurrection in interest thanks to Ronaldo joining Juventus – arguably the biggest transfer to Italy since Zinedine Zidane. One team whose rise back to the top of European football isn’t going so smoothly is AC Milan, who saw a mass of investment into the squad last season and a new manager fall flat and fail to get the returns they were after, finishing 6th on the log. Roma, on the other hand, have adjusted to life without Mo Salah rather well and enjoyed a third place finish last season. All the pressure is on Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso to deliver some results soon, but he might to struggle to pull it off against Roma this weekend.
Predicted result: AC Milan 1 – 2 Roma
Burnley v Manchester United
Premier League | Sunday, 17:00
United’s season by contrast to their northern rivals has gotten off to a catastrophic start, having suffered back-to-back losses against Brighton and Tottenham which puts them on just three points for the season so far and six behind pole position. Burnley have proven to be a very sturdy team under Sean Dyche, and one which doesn’t give away chances or allow goals through very easily. They’re precisely the kind of team United wouldn’t want to face during a difficult patch, and the fixture’s difficulty is compounded by United having to travel. Mourinho’s team is clearly devoid of confidence which makes a victory essential, but looking at their previous two matches, it’s possible the problems at Old Trafford are only going to be exacerbated this weekend.
Predicted result: Burnley 2 – Manchester United