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August 13, 2017

Sports Sunday: Premiership Soccer, Tennis, Ligue, Demons vs. Angels

Canada:  The Canadian Open of Tennis (the Rogers Cup or Coupe Rogers) has been contested at Montreal this year, and finals are Sunday.    Uniprix Stadium is the site of this year's tournament. Rafael Nadal, poised to move into the number one spot worldwide, after Andy Murray's injury, washed out earlier in the tournament. Saturday night's semifinals featured Roger Federer, facing and
beating the Netherland's Robin Haase, as well as young guns Alexander Zverev, "the great" meeting hometown boy, Canada's own  "Dom " Denis Shapovalov, " el matador" at 18 and 20 years old, this proved to be an epic battle of young pros, with German Alexander Zverev, well known to readers of this space, prevailing.  Critics think that Sunday will be yet another Federer coronation, but all that remains to be seen.  Zverev, after all, is at the top of his game.   Should be an exciting day of sport. 

In England, this has been an exciting weekend to kick off the new season of Premiership Soccer.  The weekend will reach a crescendo when perpetual favorites,  Manchester United, will fast West Ham in their Premier League opener at Old Trafford on Sunday.   United  fans are hoping history repeats itself in their Portuguese Coach,  Jose Mourinho's second season at Old Trafford.  Mourinho is famous for taking league titles in his second season everywhere he has coached and the Man U fans are so hungry they can taste it.  “We’ll win the league this year,” Manchester United legend Paddy Crerand said.  This, just an hour after seeing the Europa League winners outclassed by Real Madrid in Tuesday’s Super Cup in Skopje. Real Madrid, though, is admittedly better than any team Man U will face this season in the Premier League, so fans are confident.  United fans were used to winning, for so many years, they are 20 times champions,  and always finished in first or second place.   In recent seasons, they have been left deflated and disappointed as United finished seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth in each of the last four. It will be interesting to see how Manchester United shapes itself in the first games of the season, even for non fans. 

Meanwhile, in the overpaid department, Barcelona let Brazilian phenom Neymar Jr. slip away to Paris St. Germain for not a few shekels.  Today, perennial losers Guingamp will likely host Neymar's PSG debut but don't be fooled by the modest setting.  Neymar's debut for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), who on Friday had it confirmed that their €222 million payment to Barcelona for the 25-year-old forward had been cleared and approved, should take place at Guingamp on Sunday. Guingamp's team is in Ligue 1, and it's stadium holds 22,000 people, but the village's 8,000 residents would not fill it, and shun the attention, even when grandiose events like Neymar's debut changes the narrative.  Still, Brittany's largest soccer venue is sold out for Sunday's game.  Guingamp has an underdog's position, and budget, 5% of Paris', but they did win the French Cup as recently as 2014. 

It's the Demons vs. Saints in Aussie Rules Football.  St. Kilda takes on the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds this afternoon in a game which promises plenty of good action.  St. Kilda has dominated the last several years of the series, but Melbourne is 9th in the standings, with St. Kilda at 11th.  This is a season-defining clash for both teams, with the loser set to face a steep uphill battle to make finals. The Demons appeared to be well placed to reach September for the first time since 2006 when they defeated Port Adelaide in round 18. But the close-knit nature of the top eight does not allow for any slip-ups and losses to North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney in recent weeks have been major setbacks for the Demons' finals chances. Had St Kilda not beaten West Coast on Sunday, its 2017 campaign would have been  all but over but Alan Richardson's men have lived to fight another day after the thrilling eight-point result. By Sunday evening, we'll know a fair bit more about what each team is made of for now and into the future.

Sport Sunday sometimes regrets the wide variety of time zones of our followers, sometimes.  Trying to balance Sunday Sports in India and Australia as a preview can be a challenge, when on the same Sunday, 19 hours later, competitions kick in throughout the Americas. We do hope you enjoy this space, and are learning something about sports worldwide. 

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