The sporting week ahead (16/10/11)

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The Independent Online


Given that Australia beat South Africa despite spending most of the match camped in their own half, you wouldn't want to bet against them in the World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks. The nightmare for New Zealanders involves a winning drop goal in the final seconds for Wallaby Quade Cooper, who was born in New Zealand and grew up there – his defection is a major talking point. In football, Arsène Wenger will have been relieved that the past couple of weeks have been dominated by the indiscretions of others, such as Wayne Rooney and the England rugby team. But it won't take much for the spotlight to flash back on him if Arsenal lose to Sunderland. Tottenham visit Newcastle and the Black Country derby completes the Premier League action.


Is a new star rising over India? England think so, and Jonny Bairstow's form should provide the major talking point in today's second one-day international.


The last time Manchester City played in Europe, Carlos Tevez refused to play. Given the fallout, we're sure he would be desperate for a run-out against Villarreal. Roberto Mancini knows victory is a must; anything less could start a muttering campaign. United have an easier task at Otelul Galati, which sounds like an Ottoman emperor but is in fact a Romanian side.


Marseille have started strongly in the Champions' League with two wins; another against Arsenal will pretty much see them through the group. Chelsea could also do themselves a favour with a home win against Genk.


Shamrock Rovers gave Tottenham such a scare in the Europa League last month that the Londoners will not relish a trip to Tallaght in Dublin. It has long been a rich breeding ground, with Richard Dunne, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff all hailing from the same suburb.


The only World Cup game that doesn't matter, the third-place play-off. If you want proof, answer this: who finished third in 2007, France or Argentina? (*see below for answer)


In the Premier League, Bolton against Sunderland is not a game either can really afford to lose. For something more exotic, try Clachnacuddin versus Inverurie Loco Works in the Scottish Cup second round. Sounds a cracker.

(* Argentina won 34-10)