THE WEEK AHEAD: MAIN EVENTS

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The Independent Online
TODAY

Athletics: The World Championships continue in Seville, with the first round of the men's 110 metres hurdles, featuring Britain's gold medal prospect, Colin Jackson, and qualifying for the triple jump with world record-holder Jonathan Edwards looking to regain his best form.

Football: Back home, Liverpool's footballers, who have been starved of gold medals in recent years, travel to Leeds. Liverpool have had a less- than-conspicuous start to the new season and although they have been hit by injuries, questions are being asked about coach Gerard Houllier's close- season signings. Confidence is bound to be in short supply in the Liverpool camp and Leeds will be looking to consolidate their position as one of the sides challenging for honours.

TOMORROW

Football: It's judgement night for West Ham, who travel to Metz for the second leg of their Intertoto Cup final-round tie, seeking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg. The Hammers must win the tie to qualify for the Uefa Cup, so expect a tension-fraught game, which could end in extra time and penalties.

WEDNESDAY

Athletics: It could be a golden night for Britain in Seville, with Messrs Jackson and Edwards (see above) hoping to grab Thursday's back-page headlines.

Football: Eight sides can gain entry to the increasingly lucrative and absurdly named Champions' League tonight, as the qualifying stages reach their climax with the third round, second legs. Chelsea look certain to qualify, as they take a 3-0 lead to Latvian champions Skonto Riga, but the most intriguing match for British fans takes place in Italy, where Parma meet Rangers. Last year these two fought out a close Uefa Cup tie which favoured the Italians. This time the Scottish champions lead 2-0 from the first leg, so their seven-year exile from Europe's elite could soon be over. Maybe. On the domestic front, the highlight of an intriguing night's Premiership action is the north-east derby at St James' Park between Newcastle and Sunderland.If he thinks he has troubles enough already, Ruud Gullit will not know what has hit him if Newcastle lose to their deadly rivals.

Rugby League: St Helens v Castleford. With just four games of the regular season remaining, the race for the top five play-off places is well and truly on, and both these sides are well placed. St Helens will be looking to keep up the pressure on Bradford at the top, while Castleford need to win to move clear of Gateshead and Warrington, the other contenders for fifth place. Expect a bruising encounter.

FRIDAY

Football: Manchester United have a chance to add to their seemingly endless haul of trophies, when they meet Lazio in Monaco for the European Super Cup.The match serves as the show-piece attraction of a busy day for European football, as the draw for the the Uefa Cup is conducted earlier. The treble winners are not in action on Saturday, but are due to face Newcastle United on Monday.

SATURDAY

Rugby Union: The home nations are all in action as part of their continuing preparations for October's World Cup. Wales, successful against Canada last week, face the mediocre French in Cardiff, Scotland, fresh from a home defeat by Argentina, take on Romania at Murrayfield, and Ireland meet the Argentinians at Lansdowne Road. England, having scored more than one hundred points against the USA, have chosen to play Canada at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.

SUNDAY

Athletics: The championships reach their traditional climax with the sprint and 400m relay finals. Britain's brilliant young quartet of Dwain Chambers, Darren Campbell, Jason Gardener and Julian Golding could push the American's close in the 4 x 100m.

Cricket: Gloucestershire play Somerset in The Natwest Trophy final, with the West Country expected to descend en masse on Lord's. After 22 barren years before this season, Gloucestershire now have the opportunity to win their second trophy inside a month, having already lifted the Super Cup, while Somerset, on their first visit to cricket's HQ in 16 years, will be hoping for a return to the glory years of the early 1980s. The match itself could well be a tale of two captains, with Gloucester's Mark Alleyne and Somerset's Jamie Cox the game's most likely match winners.

Motor racing: The Formula One circus moves to Belgium, where Mika Hakkinen, now only two points behind in the race for the World Championship title, will want to follow up his victory in Hungary. Only the Irishman Eddie Irvine, it seems, can halt Hakkinen's and McLaren's march towards another championship double but the good fortune he enjoyed earlier in the season seems to have deserted him - and Ferrari may have to wait another year for the title.

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