We’re still just edging into the 2018 sports schedule, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some colossal encounters going down this weekend — and we’ve got a handy guide to the biggest of them all, so that you don’t miss a thing.
Montpellier v Leinster (Champions Cup rugby)
Montpellier had a surprising 41-10 downfall to Exeter Chiefs last weekend, and will have it all to do heading into the final round of the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool phase. The heavy defeat has left the French club tinkering on the brink of an early Champions Cup exit, and it won’t get any easier as they take on Leinster, who had a much better time last weekend as they secured their spot in the next round with an impressive 55-19 victory over an admittedly weakened Glasgow side. The French super-side will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat come Saturday, but they have the home crowd and more than enough incentive behind them to do so.
Predicted Result: Montpellier by 5
Cheetahs v Kings (Pro 14 rugby)
The Cheetahs showcased their talent last weekend with an emphatic win over the other Pro 14 contenders from South Africa, the Kings, and will be looking to do the double over them in Bloemfontein. With seven wins from 12 matches‚ the Free State side are still very much in playoff contention and you could bank on them to consolidate that position again their PE rivals who have struggled to find their feet this season.
Predicted Result: Cheetahs by 15
Manchester City v Newcastle (Premier League)
After City’s near-invincible trajectory through the first half of the season, they were halted spectacularly by Liverpool in a nervy 4-3 loss, ending their unbeaten streak. The gap between City and second place United is now 9 points, and the Citizens will have to bounce back and make sure they put their defeat against Liverpool behind them. Fortunately, they’re at home and against 15th place Newcastle, which should mean a comfortable victory, but Pep Guardiola will have to get his team refocused and make sure that their recent defeat doesn’t play on their minds and lead to them dropping more points.
Predicted Result: Manchester City 4 – 1 Newcastle
Burnley v Manchester United (Premier League)
Manchester United might be in second place on 50 points, but they have both Chelsea and Liverpool only three points behind them, so their top four position is far from secure. Burnley is seventh in the league and punching above their weight, having taken two points off United in a draw barely a month ago, but they’re without a win in six matches so their form indicates that they could struggle against the Red Devils. It’s an away game for United though, and they tend to attack far less away from home – but this is a match where they can’t afford to drop points and allow Chelsea and Liverpool to make up ground on them, and they’ll know it. It may be a nervy game since Burnley know they have the measure of United and managed to punish them recently.
Predicted Result: Burnley 1 – 1 Manchester United
Real Madrid v Deportivo (La Liga)
Real Madrid are currently enduring one of their worst runs in their modern history, finding themselves a massive 19 points behind league-leaders Barcelona and 8 points behind Valencia who are in third above them. Real’s hierarchy doesn’t respond to bad results well, and considering that we’re currently in the January transfer window they could be tempted to make an impulsive managerial-change should results not turn soon. Fortunately for Real, they’re going up against a side with only a single victory in their last six games, and who sit at 18th, which should mean they’ve got an opportunity to get an emphatic victory that could bring some much needed confidence to the Bernabeu and manager Zinedine Zidane.
Predicted Result: Real Madrid 3 – 0 Deportivo
What are your predictions for this weekend? Which teams will come out on top in the respective encounters? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!