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2021: Preview

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Following a tumultuous year that was 2020, everybody in and around the sporting industry will be sincerely hoping for a far smoother and tranquil 2021.

South Africa’s summer of cricket continues with the Sri Lankan inbound tour. The 2nd and final test match gets underway on 3 January in Johannesburg. The Proteas have a 1-0 lead in the series.

Following the conclusion of the international festivities, the domestic Momentum One Day Cup commences on 9 Jan in Potchefstroom.

The Proteas later tour Pakistan for the first time since 2007.

On the football pitch, the EFL Cup semifinals take place 5-6 Jan as Tottenham host Brentford, whilst holders Manchester City travel across town to take on Man United.

The FA Cup 3rd Round follows swiftly over the weekend 8-10 Jan. Key clashes see defending champions Arsenal tackle Newcastle, while Liverpool visit Aston Villa.

At the turn of year, log leaders amongst Europe’s top football leagues include Atlético Madrid who top La Liga, two points ahead of rampant rivals Real.

Liverpool lead the Premier League, followed by Man Utd who are three points adrift of the defending champions.

For the first time since the 2011/12 season, AC Milan sit at the summit of Serie A at year-end; the Rossoneri are one point above neighbours Inter.

The German Bundesliga is led by Bayern Munich who hold a slender 2-point buffer over Bayer Leverkusen & RB Leipzig.

In the French Ligue 1, Lyon & Lille are almost inseparable at the top of the table as they both lead Paris Saint-Germain by just a single point.

Glasgow Rangers are cruising in the Scottish Premiership and sit 16 points clear of Celtic.

The FIFA Club World Cup, supposed to take place in late 2020, will be staged from 1-11 Feb 2021 in Japan.

The knockout phase of European club competitions start in February, with the first leg to kick-off from Tuesday 16th; second leg starts Tues 9 March.

The first full week of 2021 is due to be the 302nd week that Novak Djokovic has held the world no.1 ranking. Djokovic and Roger Federer (310) are the only players ever to surpass 300 weeks atop of the ATP rankings.

The first tennis major of the new year, the Australian Open, is scheduled to take place from 8-21 Feb.

The 14th season of the Indian Premier League is provisionally scheduled to begin at the end of March. India seek to resume hosting the world‘s most resourceful cricket T20 competition after last year‘s tournament was held in the UAE.

Sir Lewis Hamilton will be chasing a record 8th World Championship, as the 2021 Formula One season gets underway in Australia on Sunday 21 March, followed by the Bahrain Grand Prix the very next weekend.

Races in April include China (11th) as well as another on Sunday 25th with no venue confirmed as yet.

In May, two more GP take place in western Europe – namely in Spain (9th) and Monte Carlo (23rd).

The English league cup Final is booked for Sunday 25 April at Wembley, with the hope that supporters will be able to attend the spectacle.

The 75th NBA season is already upon us and the playoffs are diarised to begin 22 May.

May also plays host to the FA Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday 15th, while the UEFA Champions League Final in Istanbul is set in place for the 29th.

On the boxing front, promoter Eddie Hearn has confirmed that 2021 is braced for a double-bill showdown between two of Britain's best to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion.

31-year-old Anthony Joshua currently holds the IBF, IBO, WBA, and WBO titles while his opponent Tyson Fury, 32, is the WBC champion.

The location for either fight is unannounced, with the UK doubtful of being able to hold a maximum capacity. A neutral setting (such as in southwestern Asia) could be a favourable venue for the first of two mega fights which has been pencilled in for midyear, while the latter encounter is likely to occur towards the end of 2021.

The second tennis Grand Slam of the year is up for grabs in Paris, with the Roland Garros Finals scheduled for 5-6 June.

Despite taking place in 2021, the Euros will retain the name 'UEFA Euro 2020'. The tournament is scheduled to run from 11 June - 11 July.

The South American equivalent, Copa América, takes place in the same timeframe, with the Final set for a day prior the Euro Final.

From 6 June until 18 July, there are 5 Grand Prix planned on the F1 calendar. Between races in Azerbaijan and the UK, the paddock will also make stops in Canada, France and Austria.

The NBA Finals are expected to be held from 8-22 July, meanwhile the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games get underway from 23 July with the closing ceremony August 8.

Rugby World Cup holders South Africa host the British & Irish Lions for a 4-match test series starting Sat 17 July.

The 134th Wimbledon Championships should start 28 June; the Finals will be played 10-11 July.

The fourth and final tennis major, the US Open, has been designated a start date of 30 August with the Finals 11-12 September.

The 2nd half the F1 season sees race weekends in Hungary (1 Aug), followed by three successive GP in Belgium (29 Aug), Netherlands (5 Sept), and Italy (12 Sept).

The next series of stops are in and around Asia, where another three races go ahead in Russia (26 Sept), Singapore (3 Oct), and Japan (10 Oct).

The final stretch sees a tour of the Americas (USA, Mexico, Brazil) starting at the end of October.

The 2021 season wraps up in the Middle East, with the final two GP in Saudi Arabia (28 Nov) and Abu Dhabi (5 Dec).

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