The sporting week ahead (24/04/11)

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The Independent Online


Death threats, letterbombs and red cards – just the normal build-up to an Old Firm game, and that's only been Neil Lennon's week! Rangers play Celtic for the last time this season – we think. In cricket, it's time for the incredibly pointless 40-over league, which started as the Sunday league but is now the Martini league – any time, any place, anywhere. Today's improbable fixtures include Yorkshire v Holland, Durham v Scotland and Lancashire v a team of Unicorns.


Big game at both ends of the table as Blackburn entertain Manchester City while it's war of the roses time in rugby league – St Helens v Castleford, Wakefield v Wigan and Warrington v Hull.


Manchester United go to Germany for the first leg of their Champions' League semi-final against Schalke. Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Wanderers have an equally important trip to face FA Cup finalists Stoke.


It's not often that Week Ahead bothers with all that flashy Continental football nonsense where everyone dives, cheats and moans (aren't you thinking of the Premier League? Ed) but we are quite looking forward to watching Real Madrid take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions' League semi-final tonight.


Europa League time. Only Villarreal (away to Porto in the first leg) can prevent an all-Portuguese final in Dublin next month. Am I bovvered?


A poncey Challenge Cup rugby union semi between Stade Français and Clermont Auvergne or an honest, down-to-earth Super League clash between Castleford and Leeds. You pays your money, you takes your choice.


Big game at the top of the Premier League (Chelsea v Spurs) and squeaky-bum time for Blackpool (home to Stoke), Blackburn (home to Bolton) and Wigan (home to Everton). Elsewhere, there is a tasty Heineken Cup semi-final in Dublin between Leinster and Toulouse. And finally, we're big fans of the Olympics here at Week Ahead, and credit where it is due for Seb Coe and his cohorts. Today sees an open day for a £38 million sporting village (complete with gymnastics centre, swimming pool and 32ft climbing wall) in Basildon. That's Basildon. Who would have thought it? Kudos to Coe and chums.