The sporting highlights of 2019
The new year already promises to be a special one for sport. Six English football teams are still in European competitions, British boxing has never been in better shape, and we can boast of having the best Formula 1 driver on the planet.
The New Year is eagerly anticipated by football fans, especially fans of lower league clubs, with the FA Cup third round games at the weekend. A good cup run can provide stability for years for struggling clubs and it is a chance for players to become legends.
The third round draw has provided plenty of opportunities for surprises, with Tranmere having the first chance to cause an upset when they play Tottenham at home. Spurs, who are brimming with internationals, face a difficult trip to Merseyside to play the League Two team. Other teams that will be hoping to upset the odds are Nottingham Forest away to Chelsea, Lincoln away to Everton, Blackpool at home to Arsenal and Grimsby away to Crystal Palace. Rotherham United, who are 20th in the Championship, have a daunting trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City.
February sees European football resume with six English clubs still involved. In the Champions League, the draw wasn’t too kind to English clubs, with Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham all facing difficult tasks, drawing Bayern Munich, Paris Saint Germain and Borussia Dortmund respectively. Manchester City have the seemingly easier path to the quarter-finals with FC Schalke 04 as their opposition. Arsenal and Chelsea are through to the round of 32 in the Europa League and both teams will fancy their chances of qualifying. Arsenal face BATE Borisov and Chelsea will meet Swedish club Malmö FF.
Boxing enjoyed a remarkable 2018 and if even a small number of the rumoured fights for 2019 take place then it could be an even more thrilling year. Tyson Fury’s remarkable return to boxing action has even managed to steal the limelight from the WBA, IBF and WBO champion Anthony Joshua. There is little doubt that Fury will have a big say in the Heavyweight division this year.
The biggest question is who will fight who? The WBC have sanctioned another fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, however this is far from certain, as there are rumours of reluctance from Wilder about facing Fury again. A fight between Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua would be box office gold with the winner unifying the division, the first time this will have happened since the introduction of the 4th title. Many wonder if that fight will ever happen with Wilder showing a reluctance to travel and arguments over the purse. British fight fans would no doubt love to see a Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua fight. There is no love lost between the pair and a fight would be a ‘best of British’ encounter.
You cannot mention best and British in the same sentence without mentioning Lewis Hamilton. The 33-year-old equals Juan Manuel Fangio with his fifth F1 title, making him the joint second most successful driver of all time. He is now just two championships behind Michael Schumacher in the all-time racing hall of fame. His quest to claim number six starts on the 17th March in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Rugby fans have the World Cup held in Japan to look forward to. England have only won the event once, this was in 2003, and they were also runners-up in 1991 and 2007. The opening ceremony takes place on Friday 20th September with England playing their first game on Saturday against Tonga. England have been drawn in Pool C, the same group as France, Argentina, USA and Tonga.