From everyone representing The Athletes Hub, Happy New Year! Here are some overseas predictions in the world of sports for the upcoming year:
Liverpool to win the Premier League
With a 13-point advantage, it’s already getting to the point that the other Premier League teams need snookers. Newcastle’s entertainers of 1995-96 famously let a similar lead slip in the Premier League, but Liverpool look unlikely to make that same mistake. When they need to close out big games, Liverpool have continually delivered. While they do still have to play Manchester City and Tottenham away, they have played Leicester twice and their remaining fixtures against Manchester United and Chelsea are both at Anfield.
The only factor that could derail Liverpool appears to be injury to key players. They have coped when needed without Alisson, Fabinho and Matip while they have incredible strength in depth up front. However, Virgil Van Dyke and Andy Robertson are two players they can not afford to lose for a prolonged spell. If they can keep those two fit, Liverpool will end their 30-year league title drought with weeks to spare.
England to win the Six Nations
February sees the resumption of Rugby’s greatest annual tournament: The Six Nations. In the aftermath of the World Cup, this year will see both Ireland and Wales start to rebuild with new coaches. That puts Eddie Jones’ England in pole position to reclaim the title. England have continuity with a few ageing players to replace and Jones still in post.
Getting his team over their poor display in the World Cup final is paramount to Jones. It seems England’s Saracens contingent will be available, despite the London club’s 35-point deduction threatening their survival in the Premiership. A resurgent France are a threat, but crucially England’s clashes with Wales and Ireland are both at Twickenham this year; making them tournament favorites.
Juventus to win the Champions League
While Juve face a formidable challenge at home from a revitalized Inter Milan, this could just be their year in Europe. The Old Lady sauntered through the group phase and drew a favorable last 16 tie against Lyon. Cristiano Ronaldo was brought to Turin specifically to win this tournament, while the additions of Matthias De Ligt and Aaron Ramsey have only strengthened their armory.
Juve have a terrible record in the final of this tournament (two wins from a possible nine), but with Ronaldo on board, a first triumph since 1996 could be within reach.
RB Leipzig to win the Bundesliga
Bayern’s grip on the Bundesliga is weakening after seven consecutive titles. The surprise has been the number of other teams mounting a credible challenge, and the strongest challenge has come from Borussia Monchengladbach and RB Leipzig.
The grand old clubs and the Red Bull upstarts couldn’t be more different clubs and there will be plenty of complaints if it’s Leipzig who end Bayern’s domination. On the pitch, Timo Werner gives Leipzig a cutting edge and they look to be marginal favorites at this point. Bayern are just four points behind; closer than they were to Dortmund at this stage last season. Dortmund themselves are still in the hunt, just seven points adrift. The Bundesliga looks set to be the tightest title race among Europe’s top five leagues.
Lewis Hamilton to sign for Ferrari
In 2020, Lewis Hamilton is going for a record-equaling seventh Formula 1 World Championship. It seems to be difficult to bet against Hamilton winning the title again for Mercedes, however, the intrigue will start if he hasn’t signed a new contract by mid-season. His contract is up at the end of 2020, and having conquered the world with McLaren and Mercedes, the last chapter for the 35-year old could be with the prancing horse.
For all their prestige and power, Ferrari haven’t won the F-1 Drivers Championship since Hamilton’s debut season in 2007. Since then, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have arrived at Maranello with six world titles between them but thus far failing to add one for the Ferrari. Signing with Ferrari and ending their long wait for the title would be the perfect finale to Hamilton’s glorious career.
Belgium to win Euro 2020
The European Championships are notoriously difficult to predict, but Belgium are looking like the early favorites. They finished qualifying with a perfect 10 wins. The draw was kind, with Belgium in a group with Russia, Finland and Denmark. At the same time, France, Portugal and Germany were all drawn in the same group.
With Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne back on form, Belgium look favorable going forward. However, their ageing back line remains a concern.
England to win T20 World Cup
No team has ever held both Cricket World titles at the same time, but that could change for England in 2020. Eoin Morgan’s side are now turning their attention from ODI’s to T20 ahead of the World Cup in Australia. Morgan has opted to stay on as captain, and judging by England’s series win in New Zealand, they have plenty of fresh options.
Crucially, the bouncy pitches of Australia look perfect for the lightning quick bowling of Jofra Archer. T20 is unpredictable, but England look the team to beat ahead of its November showpiece.
Roger Federer to Retire
The golden era of men’s tennis has lasted far longer than anyone expected with Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and now Andy Murray overcoming career-threatening injuries to prolong their careers. Twenty-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, 38, has nothing left to prove. However, it’s Olympic year and he may just see going for the one title that has always eluded him as the perfect way to say goodbye.
Leeds United to win the EFL Championship
After 16 years, Leeds United finally look set to return to the Premier League. Leeds and West Brom were both unlucky to miss the playoffs last season, but have been the class of the Championship this year. They both currently sit 9 points clear of third-placed Fulham, but their thrilling 5-4 win over Birmingham gives Leeds the edge on goal difference going into the New Year.
Both clubs will be immediately concerned with consolidating their positions in the top two to ensure automatic promotion. However, only one of them will be crowned Champions. Leeds, with their spine of Ben White, Kalvin Phillips and Pablo Hernandez, looks marginally better places to claim the silverware.
Leinster to win the European Champions Cup
Having lost their title to Saracens in the final last year, Leinster look set to reclaim the prize this season. They currently sit 9 points clear of Ulster at the top of the Pro 14 and are four wins from 4 in the Pool 1 of the Champions Cup.
With Saracens making it clear their priority is Premiership safety after incurring a 35-point deduction, it looks unlikely the defending champions will be in the knockout phase. Others will be in the mix; most obviously Exeter and Racing. However, Leinster will take some stopping.
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