2014 was a great year for sports, kicking off when the world was thrilled by the Winter Olympics and then treated to the best Football World Cup in years. All the annual events such as the Six Nations, Wimbledon and the Open provided their usual mix of shocks and excitement, and this year is shaping up to be just as good with the Rugby World Cup and Cricket World Cup taking the limelight while the footballers have a summer off. Here’s a rundown on why five of these events are shaping up to be potential classics in 2015.
Cricket World Cup 2015
Australia and New Zealand are sharing the 2015 tournament and both will be hoping to wrestle the crown from an impressive Indian team. Semi-finalists in 2011, New Zealand are showing strong form in the build-up and are among the favourites, hoping that familiarity with the climate will provide an advantage over the teams from the subcontinent.
England will be hoping to improve on a narrow quarter final defeat in 2011 but the bookies have them priced well behind the host nations as well as India, South Africa and Sri Lanka who deposed them four years ago.
Rugby World Cup 2015
On the other side of the world, hosts England will be looking to emulate New Zealand’s success in 2011 by achieving a home triumph against the best the world has to offer. Despite a tricky pool that includes Wales and Australia, England can look forward to playing with home advantage and loud domestic support.
With venues dotted all over England (plus Cardiff) rugby fans can be sure of not being too far from a match, with tickets for the opening matches being very competitively priced to encourage a strong turnout. All games will be broadcast by ITV, but there’s nothing better than being in the stadium!
Champions League Final, Berlin
With the knockout stages soon to begin, this year’s Champions League final is sure to feature some of the best players in the world if current form is anything to go by. Last year’s winners Real Madrid have been in astonishing form in Spain and would desperately love to add to their record ten European Cup/CL victories, but may well have to contend with Bayern Munich should they manage to get past Manchester City. Chelsea and Arsenal are the remaining British hopefuls in the tournament. Whatever happens, club football’s showcase occasion is always more interesting than watching the paint of the line marker dry!
The showcase tournament of world tennis is starting a week later than usual from this year in a bid to allow players a little more time to practice on grass and condition themselves after many months playing on hard surfaces. Recent tournaments have been vintage quality and this year’s field should be as fascinating as ever.
Can veterans Federer and Nadal still rely on their skill to keep them competitive as their bodies increasingly age and suffer niggling injuries? Will Djokovic continue to stake his claim as one of the all-time masters? Or could this be a chance for Murray to claim a second title? Serena Williams will be typically confident in the ladies game, but as ever there’s bound to be an upset somewhere along the line.
102nd Tour de France
It’s going to take something to compare to the amazing race last year that started in the UK and managed to so successfully excite the British public. What’s for certain is that fans of alpine scenery should be in for a thrill as this year’s race is focussed very much upon mountain stages – seven compared to just one time trial! With over 2000 miles to get through there’s going to be some very tired cyclists come the finish in Paris, but the British cyclists can be assured that those at home will be with them every weary stage.