The Heineken Cup has now become the competition to win in world club rugby. It’s the eighteenth season of the tournament and twenty four sides from across Europe begin their campaign in November on the long road to Dublin in May 2013.
The Roy Hodgson era begins on Saturday as the former West Brom coach takes charge of England for the first time. His first outing is a tricky away fixture in Norway who are an excellent 12/5 chance to give our boys ‘one hell of a beating’.
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.
It’s the 17th Heineken Cup Final this weekend and it’s an all Irish affair as Leinster face Ulster. You’d have got long odds on this match-up before the tournament began, with Ulster ranked as 66/1 outsiders to lift the trophy back in November.
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. However, could Ulster upset the odds at Twickenham on Saturday?
Chelsea face Liverpool in the Wembley showpiece and the Blues are the 7/5 favourites.
The 17th Heineken Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend with two intriguing matches. Of the five pre-tournament favourites, only one remains in what has been a competition full of upsets and surprises.
Can Edinburgh become the first Scottish side to reach the Heineken Cup final? Can Ulster reach their first final since 1999? And can Leinster navigate a tricky tie in France to reach their third final in four years?
The FA Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend with two local derbies in prospect. Liverpool play Everton on Saturday and while the Reds may be the 6/4 favourites, Everton are the form team. I fancy David Moyes’ side to prevail at 15/8.
The battle to avoid the drop from the Premier League continues this weekend with a vital game at Molineux. Struggling Wolves welcome Bolton and after Wanderers’ win over Blackburn last weekend, there’s some value in the visitors at 19/10.
The battle for the Premier League title continues this weekend with Manchester City once again facing a tougher test than rivals Manchester United.
City travel to Stoke City in Saturday evening’s late kick-off and the home side are excellent value at 5/1 to put a dent in City’s title hopes. United host Fulham on Monday evening and are just 1/4 to win.
The battle for second place in the 2012 Six Nations takes place at Twickenham on Saturday. By the time England kick off against Ireland, Wales could have won the tournament and the Grand Slam, although the home side retain an outside chance of snatching the title.
Ireland have been in good form and have a great recent record against England and so this promises to be an excellent match.
So, Wales’ win over Italy last weekend has set up the prospect of a third Grand Slam in eight years when they take on France on Saturday.
Can Warren Gatland’s side overcome Les Bleus and gain revenge for their World Cup semi-final defeat? Or can France keep up their superb recent record at the Millennium Stadium and end the hosts’ Grand Slam hopes?