THE finales of both the Confederations Cup and Under 21s European Championship may be enough to provide succour to thirsty sports fans this fortnight during the domestic football drought of the summer.
World champions Germany are the bookies’ favourite for the Confederations title but will face robust opposition from Portugal and host nation Russia. The event may effectively be a FIFA-led dummy run for the hosts to practice holding major international football matches before next year’s World Cup but can be used to lay down a marker for the ultimate prize in 2018. Odds suggest one of the three will win the final (July 2).
While there’s relative quiet in the heavyweight boxing ranks following Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko’s 11-round epic in April, the same cannot be said for other divisions.
Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is presenting a ‘Summertime Brawl’ (July 1) featuring Frank Buglioni’s light-heavyweight title defence against Ricky Summers. The undercard also stars welterweight prospect Conor Benn who, returning from injury, will be looking to add to his unblemished record of six wins from six fights.
In rugby the British & Irish Lions continue their summer tour of New Zealand and have enjoyed mixed fortunes since touching down in Oceania. Warren Gatland’s side won their first match against the Provincial Barbarians but were subsequently defeated by the Auckland Blues; radical improvement will be needed before the Lions take on the All Blacks (June 24). Although it should be noted only the most dedicated rugby pubs will be showing the fixtures in Scotland as they each kick off at 8.35am.
And tennis fans can look forward to the onset of Wimbledon (July 3).
With grand-slam rival Novak Djokovic struggling for form, the stage is set for Andy Murray to retain the most prestigious men’s grand slam.