The sporting week ahead (05/08/12)

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The Independent Online


So the Scottish Premier League is underway and, no sniggering at the back please, Rangers are missing in action. So the real question is which SPL club will provide Celtic with their grudge match this season now that the Old Firm derby has been postponed for at least a couple of years. Maybe Ross County (they also play in dark blue), Hearts (good protestant stock) or even Aberdeen (used to be quite good). Today's stand-up auditioners are Dundee United and Hibernian. Of course the truth is, however you slice it, that once Celtic go 31 points clear at the end of October, the fans will almost certainly be pining for the rare old times when they faced Rangers every 10 days or so. Nothing will be the same again.


Monday night in rugby league sees third versus second, St Helens taking on Warrington as the chase for Wigan hots up.


It never takes much to stoke the rivalry with Australia, but the Olympics – and Hugh Robertson's bet – have cranked it up a notch or two. Today England Lions cricket team take on their Aussie equivalents at Old Trafford, a forerunner to this time next year when we will feel the heat of an Ashes summer.


Last week Celtic had to come from behind to beat HJK Helsinki in their Champions' League third-round qualifier and will do well to protect their 2-1 lead in Finland.


Graeme McDowell has such an impressively consistent record in recent majors that you would wager a claret jug on his being in the final shakedown at the USPGA, which starts today. The venue is Kiawah Island, where 21 years ago the most dramatic and traumatic Ryder Cup game in history was contested when Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger ended up in a huge argument.


How about this for a pre-season friendly: Bolton v Barcelona.


So this is it. The new season officially starts here with the Capital One Cup. The what? It is the latest incarnation of the League Cup with Wolves getting an early reminder of their new status: home to Aldershot.