The Champions League final takes centre stage this Saturday as Bayern Munich face Chelsea. If Chelsea can manage to scrape a side together – remember that many of their first choice players are injured or suspended – they are 10/3 to win their first European Cup. Bayern Munich have home advantage but were humbled 5-2 by Borussia Dortmund in last week’s German Cup final.
You can’t help thinking that after their volatile season and miraculous win over Barcelona, this might just be Chelsea’s year. Didier Drogba to score the only goal in a 1-0 win is a 50-1 shot.
While the Champions League final may be the most prestigious club match in the world, the Championship play-off final is considered the richest. Two of the sides that were relegated from the Premier League 12 months ago are bidding to bounce back at the first attempt as Blackpool take on West Ham.
West Ham’s form away from Upton Park in recent months has been excellent and so it’s perhaps no surprise that Sam Allardyce’s side are the 21/20 favourites. However, Blackpool have experience of this match and are likely to score at some point. I fancy Ian Holloway to guide the Tangerines back up to the top division at 5/2.
There’s also a spot in the football league up for grabs on Sunday as York City play Luton Town in the Blue Square Premier play-off final. Luton are the 6/4 favourites.
It’s the Volvo World Matchplay this weekend with 24 of the world’s leading golfers in action. Ian Poulter is the reigning champion and a matchplay specialist and I expect the Englishman to go well at 8/1. Martin Kaymer is the 7/1 favourite although it’s been a mediocre year for the German so far in 2012.
Peter Hanson could be one to watch at 14/1 as could recent European Tour winner Nicolas Colsaerts who is also a 14/1 chance.
TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving is hosting the HP Byron Nelson Championship for the 27th time. The PGA Tour has been unpredictable in 2012 with only one man (Hunter Mahan) winning more than one tournament. Phil Mickelson is the 10/1 favourite here from last week’s PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar. Jason Day won here in 2010 and can be backed at 20/1.
English summer officially begins this weekend as Test cricket returns. England take on the West Indies at Lord’s after a disappointing winter and some question marks over captain Andrew Strauss. The home side are 2/5 to win the match although considering the variable English weather, the 11/4 on a draw will tempt many.
Elsewhere, the Clydesdale Bank Pro 40 continues on Sunday with Surrey looking to make in three wins out of three with a win over Durham at the Oval.
The IPL also continues this weekend with matches at Pune Warriors, the Deccan Chargers, the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.
Both the ATP and WTA tours are in Rome this week for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Novak Djokovic is the reigning champion after his 6-4 6-4 win over Rafael Nadal in last year’s final and the world’s top two are the favourites again this year. Roger Federer won his first clay court tournament of the season in Spain last week after surprise defeats for both Nadal and Djokovic.
Serena Williams is unbeaten on clay in 2012 and demolished Maria Shaparova and Victoria Azarenka last week on her way to the Madrid title. Williams has a 13-0 record on the surface this year and is back up to number 6 in the world. Sharapova is the reigning champion while Agnieska Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova are all challengers.
The top two meet in Superleague on Friday night in what promises to be a great match. Despite being level on points with Wigan, Huddersfield are 7/1 to win the regular season of Superleague, although they can go back to the top of the table after 14 matches with a win over their Lancashire rivals.
Third place Warrington should win at Wakefield on Sunday while fourth place Catalans Dragons can win at bottom club Widnes. There’s also a great looking match on Monday as two giants of the game meet. Leeds play St Helens with both clubs languishing in mid-table.
It’s the 17th Heineken Cup Final this weekend and it’s an all Irish affair as Leinster face Ulster. Leinster are in their third final in four years and are favourites to become the first team to retain the Cup since the Leicester Tigers in 2002 whilst Ulster were 66/1 outsiders before the tournament began.
Leinster have lost just three matches all season and two of them came in the opening three weeks. They are also unbeaten in a record-breaking 14 straight Heineken matches and, should they win on Saturday, they will become the first team to win every Heineken Cup match in a season since Brive managed it way back in 1997 (playing two fewer games along the way).
Ulster have shown that, on their day, they are a match for anyone but it’s hard to look past the reigning champions for this one. Back Leinster to overcome the 8 point handicap at 10/11.
The highlight of Saturday’s racing comes at Newbury with the one mile Lockinge Stakes (3.45pm), the first group 1 event for older horses of the British season. Canford Cliffs was the odds-on winner of this race in 2011 and we could well see another low priced winner this Saturday. Frankel is the clear 2/5 favourite from Excelebration.
Elsewhere, there is racing on Saturday from Doncaster, Bangor-on-Dee, Newmarket, Uttoxeter and Thirsk.