The sporting week ahead (29/09/13)

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The Independent Online


Paolo Di Canio was always a bit too combustible for a mellow Sunday afternoon in autumn – even for a bonfire of the vanities. Sunderland take on Liverpool with no one in charge – it might just be the best way forward for them after eight different bosses in the last decade (and some good ones among them). Chris Froome aims to add to his Tour de France triumph by winning the World Championship road race in Florence. If he does, he can wear the Rainbow jersey for a year and become a gay icon in the process. And the NFL returns to Wembley for the clash of Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.


The Heineken Cup is due to be launched today. With the future of the competition in doubt, anything could happen – even a bit of rucking and mauling with suits on. In the end the tournament might be played by meerkats on Mars. Rugby's league cousins hold the Man of Steel awards dinner, with the winner being made out of cutlery. And Team GB's Olympic medallists head to Antwerp for the gymnastics World Championships, though they are without Beth Tweddle, who retired in August after dominating the team for a decade.


Arsenal face a tricky Champions' League encounter with Rafa Benitez's moneybags Napoli, with home advantage potentially crucial in the toughest group. Chelsea travel to Romania to take on Steaua Bucharest, looking to make up for their shock defeat at home to Basel, while poor old Celtic have to try to get past Barcelona again. If they're lucky, Leo Messi might be behind bars by then if the tax-fraud charges stick.


There's another early test of Manuel Pellegrini's credentials as Manchester City host the European champions Bayern Munich, while United make the long trip to Donetsk in Ukraine to take on a new-look Shakhtar side.


Fifa's executive committee meet in Zurich to feast on their own folly as they try to decide what on earth to do about this damned Qatar World Cup.


There are so many big names who have pulled out of the Great Britain and Ireland team to take on Europe in golf's Seve Trophy that they might as well have been sponsored by UKIP.


In Moscow, Wladimir Klitschko takes on fellow former Olympic superheavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin with a mere £15m at stake. Back home, the big ticket is the Super League Grand Final between Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford.