So it is that time of the week again as we look ahead to the weeks most interesting sporting events and what we think should be getting your attention. This week we look ahead of the Champions League Semi-Finals, the Spanish Grand Prix and Rugby’s European Challenge Cup Rugby.
Champions League Semi-Finals
In the first of the two games Juventus take on Monaco on Tuesday. Both games can be seen live on BT Sport. Juventus have recorded six clean sheets and 10 hours of football without conceding a goal in the Champions League. They are the flag bearers for the Italian defence. Which is known around the world? If the defence doesn’t stop you then Buffon will. He made 5 saves in the first leg to complete a shutout. While he will not likely be as busy at Juventus Stadium he will be facing a desperate Monaco side. Monaco are also distracted with a chance to win Ligue 1 and with a 2-0 deficit and history against them it would be one of the great games of the competition if they manage it. Juventus to win is a shoe-in but better odds will be found at Buffon keeping them out for a clean sheet again.
Atletico v Real Madrid. It is becoming common for these two to be facing each other in big games. This is great for Spanish football as it relieves the boredom of having to watch Barcelona and Madrid slog it out every season. The 3-0 first leg defeat will be a step too far but it could be the last chance for Simeone to get a big trophy with Theo Hernandez joining Real and Grieszmann edging closer to leaving. With the tie in the bag for Real I still expect a fightback from Atletico. A draw is more likely than a win and I would say 2-2 at a push if your feeling adventurous.
European Challenge Cup Final
There is one final happening in Europe this week as Gloucester face Stade Francais for Rugby’s second-biggest continental trophy. Stade go into the game after upsetting Bath and stopping a west country derby. Jules Plisson was the stand out player and we expect the same to happen on Saturday. Gloucester come in at underdogs, Betfair has them at 17/11. We think it will be a comfortable win for Stade Francais and a man of the match performance and top scorer for Jules Plisson again.
Spanish Grand Prix
The show reaches Spain, as all the biggest names once again descend onto the tarmac. But its still the talk of Mercedes that will dominate. Lewis Hamilton will be questioning his team at the lack of speed at the Russian GP where teammate Valteri Bottas looked a step above his British ‘teammate’. The Finn obliterated the Brit and held off a challenge from Sebastien Vettel to come out on top in Sochi. Bottas is starting to become the rightful heir to Nico Rosberg as he puts up the same challenge and now proves he can win to keep Hamilton on toes. Hamilton had one of his classic anonymous weekends, but should not be too worried only four races in. He is working with his team as he did not feel his car matched Bottas. I don’t know the fine details. The engineers will give me a full summary. The direction he was able to go in, I wasn’t able to, and I don’t understand fully why. I’m not sure what else in the car was stopping me going in that direction. Spain will suit Hamilton and his experience with him likely to be the favourite but I don’t think this season is yet to unravel and a bet on one of the Ferrari drivers to win the race themselves could be the brave choice. Raikkonen at long odds of 12/1 with Bet 365 could surprise.