This weekend sees the Euro 2016 tournament continuing and the international rugby season heating up following some unpredictable results last weekend. There are some huge games on the fixture list, but we’ve picked the five biggest that you need to keep your eyes on:
Italy v Sweden
Antonio Conte’s side were not mentioned among the favourites prior to the start of the tournament but swept Belgium aside in their opening game and appear to be a force to be reckoned with. The current Azzurri team may not be as talented as many of their predecessors but they are, crucially, all pulling in the same direction, but they face a tough Sweden side, who laboured to a disappointing draw with the Republic of Ireland. The Swedes will need Zlatan Ibrahimovic to stand up and be counted for this encounter, which is falling in Italy’s favour.
Prediction: 1-0 to Italy
New Zealand v Wales
The All Blacks will end Wales’ hopes of a series victory if they win this weekend’s match between New Zealand and Wales in Wellington on Saturday. Wales caught the All Blacks offgaurd in last week’s series opening Test when they scored the first try of the match and few had expected Wales to be level with the world champions at half time. However, while Wales will throw their all into the second Test in hopes of salvaging a chance at the series, the All Blacks’ attacking prowess looks too potent too ignore.
Prediction: All Blacks by 12
Wallabies v England
A Wallabies team nursing injured pride will hope for more discipline from a re-jigged forward pack and some sympathy from the referee as they bid to square the series against a confident England in Melbourne on Saturday. The Australians will need to give it their all to defeat a much-better prepared England side, but individual flair in the Wallaby backline could be the key to their survival. The pressure is on Wallaby coach Michael Chieka.
Prediction: Wallabies by 5
Springboks v Ireland
An embarrassing home defeat for South Africa in their opening test against Ireland could provoke either a devastating backlash or be the precursor to more turmoil as the sides meet again on Saturday in the second test at Ellis Park. The plucky performance now offers the Irish a chance for a series win that would have seemed unthinkable when they arrived in the country with a squad depleted by injury to key players and hand a major psychological blow to South African rugby. South Africa have opted to stick with consistency and, if history is to be referenced, shouldn’t follow the same underwhelming performance.
Prediction: Springboks by 7
Portugal v Austria
The second round of Group stage matches concludes with Portugal taking on Austria in Group F at the Parc des Princes on Saturday night. Both sides are looking for their first win in the tournament. The two sides have not met since a 1-1 draw in 1995. Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo will have to inspire his side following their 1-1 draw with Iceland. With both nations having fallen short of expectations in terms of their opening results, we should be in for a decent contest as they bid to make amends here.
Prediction: 2-1 to Portugal
What match are you most excited for this weekend? Let us know in the comments below and tweet us at @MenStuffZA.