Champions League Final heads epic weekend of sport

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As summer peeks its head around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, the region enters one of its most exciting periods of sport.

While the rising temperatures symbolise the end of a long season in some disciplines, it also marks an exciting new start for others.

This weekend is a real doozy so buckle up as we take a look at the top five events you simply cannot afford to miss.

Can Liverpool do the unthinkable?

On Saturday night, Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the final of the football’s UEFA Champions League.

 

Real Madrid, led by the great Cristiano Ronaldo, will begin as heavy favourites in Kiev as they seek a third consecutive triumph and their 13th in all.

The Portuguese star, who once swapped shirts with Rio 2016 judo bronze medallist Telma Monteiro, is seeking a fifth Champions League title.

However, Liverpool have prospered as underdogs in the tournament thus far and will be more than happy to assume that tag once more.

In Egyptian striker Mo Salah, the English side have a true match winner in a potent attacking force which has given defenders nightmares all season.

With both teams better going forwards, onlookers are in for an exhilarating 90 minutes.

And there is one particularly good omen for Liverpool.

The Reds won the only previous European Cup Final meeting between the two sides back in 1981.

The King of Clay returns to Paris

The French Open begins on Sunday and in the world of clay-court tennis, one name stands above all others.

Double Olympic champion Rafael Nadal won his 10th title at Roland Garros last year and the Spaniard opens up against Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Another big name to look out for is Serena Williams, who returns to Grand Slam action after taking time out to have a baby.

The three-time French Open champion faces Kristyna Pliskova, twin sister of world number six Karolina.

Also keep an eye out for Serena’s sister Venus, Maria Sharapova and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, who will all be keen to avoid an early exit in Paris.

Froome closes in on Grand Tour trinity

The Maglia Rosa is on the line and Chris Froome is in pole position to take it home.

The only thing in his way is one last mountain stage on Saturday.

The Briton has hit form at the right time, claiming the overall lead from compatriot Simon Yates with a stunning solo break on Stage 19.

With reigning champion Tom Dumoulin hot on his heels in second, Froome knows any mistake could cost him a historic triumph.

Should the four-time Tour de France champion prevail, he will be the first British winner of the Giro.

Froome would also become the first man to hold all three Grand Tour titles at the same time since the Vuelta a Espana moved from April to September in 1995.

As tradition dictates, Sunday will see a processional final day ride in Rome.

Super Saturday in Oregon

Some of the world’s most exciting athletes will do battle at the prestigious Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, USA.

Christian Coleman will hope to tear up the track in the men’s 100m, while two-time Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya looks unbeatable in the women’s 800m.

The women’s 400m is set to be a classic as Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo lines up against home favourite Allyson Felix.

Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba is back in town with the Rio silver medallist a strong favourite in the women’s 5,000m.

And can double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson regain the winning thread?

The Jamaican was only fourth in the Commonwealth Games 200m and third in the Diamond League 100m in Doha.

Star-studded Warriors facing elimination

For the first time since Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Golden State are on the brink of elimination in the postseason.

James Harden and the Houston Rockets are 3-2 up and another victory in Game 6 in Oakland on Saturday night would secure them the Western Conference title.

The Rockets will have to do so without star guard Chris Paul who has a hamstring injury.

The Warriors, led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, need a win to set up a winner-takes-all Game 7 in Houston.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a must-win Game 6 against the Boston Celtics.

The Cavs are down 3-2 and will hope their talisman LeBron James can pull them out of the fire on their home court.

Best of the rest

There is a plethora of action on Olympic Channel this weekend including the mixed team and individual finals at the Archery World Cup in Antalya, Turkey.

Duisburg in Germany plays host to the latest round of the Canoe Sprint World Cup.

The ISSF World Cup shooting event comes to a close in Munich.

And there is the climax of fencing’s Epee Grand Prix in Cali, Colombia with Rio 2016 men’s gold medallist Park Sang Young among the favourites.

In badminton, all eyes are on Bangkok for the finals of the Thomas & Uber Cups, the sport’s World Team Championships.

And finally, Nick Goepper will be doing his bit to raise the profile of free skiing.

The PyeongChang 2018 slopestyle silver medallist is the Grand Marshal at one of the world’s great motor races, the Indianapolis 500.

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Author: Andrew Binner
Andrew is an Olympic Channel news producer and perennially-injured winger.