The Sports Week That Was and Will Be

Much has happened in the world of sports over the last seven days. With simultaneous major events happening across the globe, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the week, and the weekend ahead.

FOOTBALL

We’re down to the last 8, and as we speak, the quarterfinals are underway. Spain, the defending champions, were knocked out by a young, spunky Italian side, only days after losing to Croatia in their final group game. But even Croatia went out to a draw-loving Portugal, who became the first team to enter the semis by winning their quarter against Poland in a penalty shootout. Portugal are yet to win a game in 90 minutes, and drew all their three group matches – yet, find themselves in their fourth semifinal in the last five championships. But the biggest shock of the year came when classic underdogs Iceland – a country with a population lesser than most of Mumbai’s suburban railway stations – defeated England 2-1, knocking the hapless Brits out of Europe only days after Britain knocked themselves out of Europe in the referendum vote. Not for the first time, England humiliated themselves at a major football championship – still to win a title since its World Cup win way back in 1966. 

Lionel Messi, too, retired from international football after Argentina once again lost to Chile in the Copa America final on penalties. The disillusioned superstar said he was “done with the national team”, presumably a result of all the step-motherly treatment doled out to him by AFA ever since he decided to play for his birth country over Spain, the country that shaped him as a footballer. At 29, many hope for him to be back. Cristiano Ronaldo, though, will be looking to win Portugal the Championship, after looking out of form throughout, but probably inspired by his great rival’s failure to win an international title. 

Friday: Wales v/s Belgium (Prediction: Belgium)

Saturday: Germany v/s Italy (Prediction: Germany)

Sunday: Iceland v/s France (Prediction: France)

TENNIS

The story of Wimbledon 2016, World No. 773 Marcus Willis, a club coach on the verge of giving up his pro career earlier this year, reached the second round of the tournament and lost to Roger Federer. He went through six rounds of qualifying, won his first round against the World No. 53, and had a ball on center court with the Swiss legend, going down in straight sets – but relishing his time in the spotlight. The 25-year old lit up a fairly straightforward week for the favorites, with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray having no real problems progressing. But in the women’s draw, French Open Champion Garbine Muguruza crashed out to World No. 124 Jana Cepelova in the second round, while World No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska almost lost to teenager Ana Kunjuh, saving three match points and winning the final set 9-7 after Kunjuh twisted her ankle at 7-7. 

CRICKET 

England defeated Sri Lanka by chasing down 309 in less than their stipulated 42 overs to win the fourth ODI, and won the series – their third in five after the World Cup 2015 – with opener Jason Roy scoring a swashbuckling 162 in the chase. His was the second-highest score ever by an Englishman in ODI cricket, his second century of the series, with one match yet to go. It seems like Sri Lanka can’t win a match, no matter how well their batsman perform, given their inability to defend targets in these conditions.

F1

The Austrian Grand Prix will take place on the weekend – with Nico Rosberg comfortably leading the championship once again after winning the inaugural Azerbaijan GP two weeks ago. It was his fifth win of the season (out of eight races), and extended his lead back to 26 points over Lewis Hamilton, his teammate and 3-time defending F1 Champion.

 

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