The Sporting Week Ahead: 06/11/11
Sunday 06 November 2011
Motivation will not be a problem when Wolves take on Wigan, a game that has a death rattle about it even though the autumn leaves are still falling. It's the sort of game to make Mick McCarthy wish he was still the Ireland manager in the week of their European Championship play-off with Estonia. Fulham's derby with Spurs should also prove feisty while, in the Championship, Leeds manager Simon Grayson will be in familiar surrounds at Leicester City.
If I tell you the highlight of last year's BNP Paribas Masters was that Robin Soderling became the first Swede to win it, you will know not to get over-excited about it. Perhaps you should watch the Monday-night match instead: St Johnstone v Aberdeen. Hmm, that's what's called an acquired taste.
International weeks mean just one thing: it's time for another round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Although some might think this is like watching paint dry, Sheffield United v Bradford has a bit of gloss about it.
Worcester are the first English rugby team to venture into Europe, against Stade Français in the Amlin Challenge Cup. The French lost a thrilling final last year to Worcester and should provide the stiffest of challenges.
It is nine years since the Republic of Ireland last qualified for a major finals, but they will never get a better chance after drawing Estonia in the play-offs for Euro 2012. Success will cement Giovanni Trapattoni's reputation but, the economic situation being what it is, there will be no repeat of the Jack Charlton era, when they erected a lifesize statue of him at Cork Airport.
This could be embarrassing. Spain play England at Wembley and it already sounds like a mismatch. Statistics don't offer much comfort: England have only won twice against them in 30 years, the last time in 2001, when Chris Powell won the first of five caps under Sven Goran Eriksson. Powell is now one of the League's brightest young bosses and Sven a busted flush. All that is left for him is to be voted off next year's Strictly Come Dancing. England play New Zealand in rugby league's Four Nations, and Northampton will not relish a Heineken Cup opener against Munster.
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