Between Super Rugby, the Hong Kong Sevens, French Top 14, and Premier League this weekend, there are massive matches going down all across the world; and we’ve highlighted the top 7 you can’t afford to miss.
Hurricanes v Sharks (Super Rugby)
The Sharks admittedly impressive performance against the Blues last weekend showcased the potential the Durban side do offer; however, this weekend, they face arguably the toughest task of any Super Rugby team: taking on the Hurricanes in Wellington. The 2016 champions have been in great form this season, only faltering to the Bulls in Pretoria in the opening rounds of the comp. Their devastating forward pack and backline is beginning to click into place and will be a handful for the Sharks to keep at bay.
Predicted result: Hurricanes by 10.
South Africa v England (Sevens World Series)
The on-going rivalry between the Blitzbokke and England continues this weekend in Hong Kong, with SA and the Roses entering the tournament with inexperienced squads, with both their stars being rested in anticipation for the Commonwealth Games next weekend. One of the new faces in the South African squad squad is Standerton-raised Mfundo Ndhlovu, who will be playing on the wing, a position Seabelo Senatla made his own in the past. The men in green will need to be ruthless against England, who have had a knack for edging out the Boks in recent encounters.
Predicted result: South Africa by 3.
Everton v Liverpool (Premier League)
The first game of the weekend is the Merseyside derby, and the two teams haven’t been so far apart in terms of their fortunes for some time. Everton are languishing in 9th place, having suffered quite an inconsistent season and recent run of games, with three losses in their last six matches. Liverpool, on the other hand, will be on cloud nine after their resounding victory against Manchester City in the Champions League. Everton’s defensive record is the poorest of the top ten sides, a statistic that doesn’t match up well against Liverpool’s incredible attacking options. The derby bragging rights are likely only going one way this time around.
Predicted result: Everton 0 – 3 Liverpool
Lions v Stormers (Super Rugby)
The Lions have let three games slip through their fingers in recent weeks – falling to the Jaguares, Blues, and Crusaders in late stages of the games. There’s no doubt that the absence of key players is taking its toll on them, but they’ll have to remain vigilant when the Stormers visit Ellis Park on Saturday. The Cape side has been producing some good rugby, with moments of individual brilliance shining through from key players. That said, a comprehensive team effort is yet to be seen by the Stormers away from home, which is something the Lions can capitalise on.
Predicted result: Lions by 7
Manchester City v Manchester United (Premier League)
It’s happening with six matches left in the tank – but the end of the Premier League title race could potentially be decided on Saturday. Manchester City have a commanding 16 point lead, which will be unassailable to the trailing pack if they beat their nearest rivals Manchester United. Mourinho will be loathe to relinquish the title to Pep Guardiola’s City side, so he’s likely to choose a defensive and combative starting eleven to delay the victory fanfare for at least one more week. City experienced a humbling defeat against Liverpool in the Champions League, but often the big sides respond to a loss with extra energy in their next fixture. Considering how indomitable the City attack has been this season, United are going to have to do everything in their power to hold them back, and are unlikely to be successful.
Predicted result: Manchester City 2 – 1 Manchester United
Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Despite an impressive run of form in the Champions League Real Madrid have still endured a rather disappointing La Liga season, and sit four points below their city rivals Atletico. They welcome them to the Bernabeu after an exceptional performance against Juve in midweek, though, which is likely to boost the team’s confidence significantly. Ronaldo has hit a prolific vein of form, and while Real didn’t start the season out particularly well they’re ending it brilliantly. Atletico will likely struggle to keep this reinvigorated Madrid side down, but both teams may suffer some fatigue from their European obligations during the week.
Predicted result: Real Madrid 2 – 0 Atletico Madrid
Racing 92 v Toulon (French Top 14)
After Munster’s late win over Toulon in the Champions Cup last week, the star-studded French side will be eager to get one over their Top 14 rivals, Racing 92, who have strung together a number of solid performances in recent weeks. Racing and Toulon sit in the No. 2 and 4 spots on the log respectively, which has become a fierce fight at this point in past seasons. While Toulon has the firepower to rip any team apart, Racing seems to have found a perfect balance, with their bench playing an important role in the latter parts of tough encounters.
Predicted result: Racing 92 by 7.