The sporting week ahead (31/03/13)


Liverpool are so unpredictable that someone should make a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary to track the ups and downs of their season. Oh hang on a minute, didn't they just do one? What a shame they never got the chance to stick a camera on Brendan Rodgers as he watched Liverpool subside at Southampton. Today they travel to Aston Villa knowing that much more is required to see off a Villa side buoyed by their recent win against QPR. On the water, a surprisingly large number of people will take to the banks of the Thames to watch the Boat Race. The good news is that Trenton Oldfield, the wacko who disrupted it last year, won't be there. He has promised to go walking in the Cotswolds and, such is the cold this year, it seems inconceivable anyone else will dip a toe in the water.


Chelsea versus Manchester United, the FA Cup replay they almost couldn't find a date for, is the highlight of an Easter Monday programme that also features Fulham against QPR and a full League programme.


In the Champions' League, the Qatar A team (Barcelona) travel to Qatar's B team (Paris St-Germain), while Bayern Munich host Juventus.


The last time Didier Drogba faced Jose Mourinho he got sent off when Chelsea played Internazionale. Now they meet again as Galatasaray travel to Real Madrid, who must really feel they can win this competition.


Of course, English teams have been left to play in the pantry — or, to give it its proper name, the Europa League. Benfica v Newcastle looks the most interesting game, with Chelsea playing Rubin Kazan and Tottenham facing Basle. There's European competition in rugby union too, with Gloucester at home to Biarritz in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.


With no Andy Murray, the GB tennis team appear to have a limited chance against Russia in the Davis Cup. Perhaps that's why they have been sent to Coventry to play the tie. In rugby, Wasps play Leinster in their Amlin quarter-final.


And so to the Grand National, an event which seems on its last legs. It is 40 years since Red Rum strode to his first win, 20 years since the fiasco of the false start. But it is the memory of last year's tragedy, when two horses died – including Synchronised – that is difficult to dispel. In football, Nigel Adkins's new club, Reading, face his old one, Southampton, while Saracens host Ulster in rugby union's Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

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