World Sports: This Weekend

The weekend of 22nd-23rd November, 2014 will in many ways encapsulate and envelope the long sporting season. This weekend, a few events will round off many annual battles, and even set the tone for many to follow. Tennis and F1 reach their final days of 2014, while football and cricket soldier on.

FRIDAY- SUNDAY

DAVIS CUP TENNIS FINAL: FRANCE v/s SWITZERLAND
A Federer-led Switzerland will attempt to win their first ever Davis Cup title against 10-time Champions and partial favorites France in Lille. Partial, because of Federer’s severe back injury, and because of his spat with teammate and friend Wawrinka; a lot will depend on their chemistry if they have to make history. Federer is World no. 2 and Wawrinka World no. 4, but Monfils and Tsonga aren’t limp fish either—both energized after not making it to the World Tour Finals, treating this Davis Cup Final as their last hurrah of 2014. They won’t be easy to beat on home soil, but a crowd rarely cheers against perennial darling Federer (even at Roland Garros).

Prediction: The Blues, FRANCE, could edge through with a semi-fit Federer struggling to make a difference.

F1 Finale: ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will go head-to-head one last time this season, with the Brit leading the German by 17 points heading into the first-ever DOUBLE-POINTS finale in F1 history. Their rivalry has lit up a largely drab season, with the two barely on talking terms for most of it. Hamilton tends to have that effect on most of his teammates though.
For Hamilton, the equation is simple: He must finish within the top two to win his second Drivers title. Rosberg, meanwhile, will have to win and hope Hamilton finishes 3rd or lower. One of them will definitely win, as is tradition this season, with Mercedes having wrapped up the Constructors title eons ago. This will be Vettel’s last ride with Red Bull, after which he will move to Ferrari next year, and perhaps unlucky Alonso’s final ride with Ferrari.

Prediction: Hamilton will win his Second Championship title. Rosberg will have to hope for a disaster for Hamilton, and that seems unlikely to happen.

EPL FOOTBALL: ARSENAL v/s MANCHESTER UNITED
With minnows like Southampton and Swansea asserting their authority during the first third of the season and enjoying fairytale runs, this rivalry will bring back the league to where it belongs. What makes it spicier is that both teams have been below par so far, with just 1 point separating them in 6th and 7th places. Van Gaal hasn’t worked his magic with the Red Devils so far, and Wenger is set to helm yet another bridesmaid season in charge. However, this match could make or break one team’s season. They have no chance of catching a dominant Chelsea at the top, but they must finish inside the top 4—especially United, who aren’t in the Champions League scheme of things after what seems like decades.

INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE 2014
With Chennaiyin toping the table for the first time this season and favorites Atletico De Kolkata now in second, this will be a crucial weekend for them. They played out a dull 0-0 draw against each other last week, but managed to win their last games—with Chennaiyin jumping over because of superior goal difference. They’re easily the most prolific of the league so far, but face a tricky Sunday Away encounter against 4th placed Mumbai FC. Rejuvenated Kerala FC, now in 3rd, will take on Atletico; these encounters could potentially eat into the top two’s airy 4-point lead at the top after 10 games.

CRICKET: AUSTRALIA v/s SOUTH AFRICA (5th ODI)
Depending on Friday’s result, this could either be a decider or a dead-rubber. Australia, already 2-1 up going into the 4th ODI (Friday), are favorites with South Africa struggling to get a balanced batting order. The likes of Behardien aren’t bolstering the middle order at all, and even Morne Morkel has gone off the boil quickly. Other than AB and Amla, there’s nobody who can win the match for them (except maybe Dale Steyn on his day).

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