On your marks and get set for a bumper year of sporting overload!
Few of us will look back on 2020 as anything other than a year to forget – but what it does mean is that 2021 should be a bumper sporting year to remember.
It’s been hastily rewritten and doubtless more tweaks are still to come but the 2021 sporting calendar is set to be bursting at the seams with top-class action from around the globe.
Sports fans and punters will have never had it quite this good with all the usual events now sharing top billing with overspill from 2020, including the rearranged Olympic Games, European Championships and Ryder Cup.
Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot
Football fans will have any number of key dates etched into their minds as this strangest of seasons heads towards a thrilling domestic and European conclusion, but supporters of England and Scotland will have only one date occupying their thoughts.
June 18 at 8pm is the time, Wembley Stadium the venue, a packed house (hopefully) providing the rousing backdrop for the renewal of one of football’s greatest international rivalries, as England and Scotland cross swords once more, this time with Euro 2020 Group D points on the line.
Gareth Southgate’s men are the
5/1 joint favourites to be crowned European champions for the first time – Belgium are the same price – and they’ll be expected to beat Steve Clarke’s men as the two countries meet in a major finals for only the second time.
Europe Reuniting for Ryder Cup Shot
The European Championship is not the only big-ticket, box office sporting spectacle which has been pushed back a year.
Eight years after Tokyo was awarded the right to host the Games of the 32nd Olympiad they finally get that chance with athletes from over 200 nations (once again, hopefully) heading to Japan to fight for medals in 33 different sports, with the fun and games starting on July 23.
Far fewer nations will be involved in the postponed Ryder Cup, the ultimate three-day golfing team event in which Padraig Harrington’s Team Europe aim to fend off home hero Steve Stricker and the USA at Whistling Straits, a year after the clash was supposed to take place. Europe hold the trophy currently and are
7/5 to retain it.
Can Tiger Roll Up at Aintree
To show how much racing fans miss their fix of live action, an astonishing 4.8m people tuned in to watch April’s Grand National – even though it wasn’t actually being run. Boffins used all the top tech available to give racing-mad punters a virtual National and proclaimed Potters Corner the winner with favourite Tiger Roll back in fourth.
When battle recommences for real, Tiger Roll, currently
14/1, will seek to emulate Red Rum by becoming a three-time winner, while Potters Corner is
18/1 to become the darling of future pub quiz fans by pulling off a unique virtual-reality double. (That’s if he wins, and if there are any pubs left).
So what else will get the juices of sports fans flowing in 2021? What else were they deprived of in 2020?
Well, Andy Murray for one. The former world No.1 is a year older and a year creakier but he’s not retired yet and the Scot is
20/1 to produce one of the comebacks of all comebacks by winning Wimbledon for a third time. Novak Djokovic is
6/4, Rafael Nadal 11/2 and eight-time winner Roger Federer
Lewis Hamilton is
2/5 to wipe Michael Schumacher’s name from the record books by landing a record-breaking eighth Formula One drivers’ crown and there’s also the Rugby League World Cup to look forward to next autumn. It’s all about the all-conquering Aussies, the 11-time winners and defending champs, who are
5/18 shots with hosts England at
13/2. The final is at Old Trafford on November 27.
Big-Fight Fans Braced for A Rumble In The Somewhere
And will it be the year when the world heavyweight title division is unified again courtesy of the ultimate ‘Battle of Britain’ between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury?
‘AJ’ and ‘The Gypsy King’ have done what they needed to do and left it to the match-makers to thrash out the small print and the big bucks needed to get the two giants of their sport into the ring in ’21.
Where it will take place is anyone’s guess; if it takes place at all isn’t exactly set in stone. But it’d be the biggest fight in British boxing history if it does and Fury would be favourite.
After what we’ve all had to endure in 2020, that’s a showdown which really would be something to bring a smile to any sports fan’s face. Happy New Year.
*All odds correct at time of writing.