The sporting week ahead (10/03/13)

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The Independent Online


In 18 games across 22 years and venues spread from Huddersfield (yes really) to Durban, England have never lost to Italy at rugby. Today, with a Grand Slam in sight, is no time to break new ground at Twickenham, where a capacity crowd will expect a substantial victory. In the FA Cup, Millwall and Blackburn fans should turn away now. Has there ever been a less appealing FA Cup quarter-final than today's offering at the Den? Surely Blackburn and Millwall qualify as England's least-loved clubs, the one with renegade owners, the other with (a few) renegade fans. No one likes them, but they are unlikely to care today as they seek a place in the semi-finals and maybe even a tie against the winners of today's other cup tie, between Manchester United and Chelsea. But today's best game could be at Anfield, where Liverpool will do well to see off a resurgent Tottenham. Also, Newcastle play Stoke.


The Monday-night game is Burnley against Hull, a classic of the Championship kind.


The daffodils are out, the Irish farmers are in town and Cheltenham is up and running. The first day, which to many is often the best, sees the Champion Hurdle. In football's Champions' League, Barcelona may find there's no way back after losing 2-0 in Milan in the last-16 first leg.


If Arsenal crash out the Champions' League, as surely they will at Bayern Munich today, the Premier League will not be represented in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1996. What will Roy Keane have to say about that? In New Zealand, England's cricketers will hope for a better start in the Second Test in Wellington than they had in Dunedin.


The last time Tottenham played Internazionale at the San Siro, in 2010, Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick and ended up on the losing side. No danger of a repeat today as he is suspended and Spurs are 3-0 up from the first leg. It will be tighter for Chelsea and Newcastle but both will believe they can progress.


Strap on your ear mufflers, because Formula One is about to start, with the first day of practice at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.


Will this be England's Grand Slam day? It's a tough ask in Wales and an even tougher one just six days after their last game. But England fancy a first clean sweep in 10 years. In the Premier League, Everton could end all lingering argument about the title by beating Manchester City before Manchester United face Reading.