George Glover looks forward to some of 2019’s major sporting events.
January to May: English Premier League
Manchester City’s recent 2-1 win over Liverpool has left the Premier League’s title race finely poised; Jürgen Klopp’s side remain favourites, but City and Spurs are now breathing down their necks and will look to close the gap further in the coming months. Other fascinating stories include Manchester United’s potential resurgence under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the battle for the Golden Boot between Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and a relegation dogfight where at least seven teams are in danger.
February: Super Bowl LIII
In last year’s Super Bowl, the seemingly cursed Philadelphia Eagles finally broke their NFL duck due to a strong performance from back-up quarterback Nick Foles. Foles’ Eagles remain in this year’s playoffs after a nail-biting win over the Chicago Bears, but they face stiff competition from franchises including the Kansas City Chiefs, the L.A. Rams and the New Orleans Saints. Pundits have speculated that this may be the highest-scoring Super Bowl ever due to a league-wide explosion. For those unenthused by American Football, Maroon 5 and Travis Scott headline the half-time show.
May to July: ICC Cricket World Cup
England are hosts and favourites for this One-Day tournament. A ten-team round-robin format is sure to produce plenty of intriguing match-ups between historic rivals. England rely on a high-scoring, aggressive batting line-up anchored by Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, while Virat Kohli’s India will be strong contenders. Australia might be considered dark horses; two of their key batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner, will return to international cricket in March after serving a year’s ban for ball-tampering.
June: UEFA Champions League Final
Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium will host club football’s flagship game for the first time. This season’s Champions League has provided few shocks thus far, and all four English teams battled through their groups to reach the knockout stages. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona are the current favourites, and neutrals are likely to root for either ahead of the prospect of Real Madrid winning their fourth consecutive title.
June: UEFA Nations League Finals
The inaugural Nations League tournament features hosts Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Gareth Southgate’s England. The Three Lions will look to build on a strong 2018 World Cup, when the English public seemingly fell back in love with the ups and downs of international football.
June to July: FIFA Women’s World Cup
France hosts women’s football’s premier international tournament. Engagement in the women’s game has increased substantially in recent years, and the BBC will broadcast extensive coverage of every game. England, now managed by Phil Neville, will hope to build on their third-place finish in 2015, but the United States will be tough to beat as they attempt to retain their title.
September to November: Rugby World Cup
New Zealand and Ireland are the current bookmakers’ favourites for this 20-team tournament, but teams’ chances will be evaluated further after the Six Nations, which begins next month. Japan hosts, marking the first time that the competition has taken place outside of rugby’s traditional heartland.