SportsNet - April 2012
Another week of entertaining football in the Premier League awaits.
We take a look at this week's matches and what to expect.
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Chelsea stars were disciplined, determined and passionate in mid week victory over Barcelona. They would need all those attributes again when they face arch rivals Arsenal in a lunch time kick-off at Emirates. Roberto di Matteo would like to rest some of the squad members and keep them fresh for match against Barcelona. Arsenal would like to push a tired Chelsea side and get a victory to keep their hold on the 3rd spot in the League table.
PREDICTION: Chelsea to continue their recent good form with a victory over Arsenal.
Blackburn Rovers vs Norwich City
Five successive defeats and suddenly Blackburn are on the verge of relegation. Steve Kean and the Owners should face further protests from the Blackburn faithful. If Blackburn win this match they could have some chance of surviving provided that other rivals also drop points.
Spain appears to have a leg up on the competition when it comes to the beautiful game.
The reigning World Cup champions also have a league that boasts perhaps the two best clubs in the world: Real Madrid and Barcelona. Meanwhile, some of the lower-tier clubs continue to produce solid results in European competition.
But La Liga, and the Spanish economy, are struggling.
According to recent government assessments, clubs in the top two divisions owe 752 million euro ($988 million) in unpaid taxes. Six of the top division teams have payments due by June 30 and are in bankruptcy protection.
Spain's economy is now heading into another recession and is facing the danger of following Greece, Portugal and Ireland into seeking a bailout.
Real Madrid have a 589 million euro ($773 million) debt, while the debt figures for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are at 578 million euros ($756 million) and 514 million euros ($675 million), respectively.
Valencia had to sell stars like David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata to drop its debt to 382 million euro ($500 million).
The semi-finals of Champions League is underway, and there has already been some excitement.
Bayern Munich overcame a spirited Real Madrid side in the first leg of their clash at the Allianz Arena in Munich, to defeat the La Liga giants, 2-1. Bayern were initially put on the defensive with some good attacking from Madrid.
Franck Ribery came up with the first goal in the 16th minute to put the hosts ahead. Bayern played some classic following the strike to push the nine-time European Champions back into their own half.
Bayern's midfield was shaping up beautifully with Ribery, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger proving too much for the Madrid defenders. Bayern were sharp in attack with Mario Gomez coming just short of a goal on multiple occasions. Madrid responded eight minutes after the break to level the match with Karim Benzema scoring the much-needed away goal. Benzema's strike might be the deciding factor when the two clubs meet at Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg.
But Bayern would strike back. Gomez hit the game winner in the 90th minute to put the German giants ahead, 2-1.
The Houston Texans may have an option in the first round that will be both unexpected and not exactly provocative.
The NFL Draft is almost a week away, and before we get into mock drafts, there is a decent chance that Houston will land a defensive tackle in the first round.
Jerel Worthy may be the "best player available" at the 26th pick should the Bears select Kendall Wright. Stephen Hill and Alshon Jeffery are wide receivers who will be in the mix, as well. Reuben Randle's stock may dropped him to a possible Second Round selection.
Based on value, which is how general manager Rick Smith is expected to approach the draft, Worthy would appear to be the best player on the board at No. 26.
Worthy, a bruiser out of Michigan St., stands at 6'2 and 308 pounds, and has the size to suit Wade Phillips. Worthy is capable of easily beating linemen and has a strong understanding of how to use his size. He is very quick and knows how to use his hands to get into the backfield.
Though there are not many changes to the current ATP rankings, Roger Federer is closing in on Rafael Nadal at the No. 2 spot.
Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, is just 335 points away from Nadal, who holds second place with 9215 points in ranking, as of Monday.
Nadal is definitely in an advantageous position at the No. 2 spot, while fighting for his eight-straight Monte Carlo Masters title this week at Monaco.
Federer has withdrawn from the Monte Carlo tournament, as the Swiss star has taken a break from the game. He will return to action at the Mutua Madrid Masters next month at the Park Manzanara in Spain.
Nadal needs to win the championship this week to secure his No. 2 spot in the ATP rankings. The journey will not be easy for the Spaniard, as he is bothered by knee ailments.
Nadal, who has not won a tournament for 10 months and has lost to Novak Djokovic in seven successive finals said, "It's OK now, I need time to see how it is at the top level, to run without thinking about the knee, when I put all my pressure on the knee. It's the start of the clay-court season for me, and hopefully it will work well.