With the new year well and truly underway, and with 2018 offering us a lot of entertainment, it’s time we make our wish-list for what we would like to see in Sports in 2019.
Australia to turn up big in the Ashes
It hasn’t necessarily been the greatest summer of cricket for the Aussies. Having to brave India on our home soil without David Warner and Steve Smith, who are both serving bans for ball tampering, India managed to win their first series on Australian soil in their history. The Ashes up in the UK will be the first major test series we get our two stars back, and it won’t be a secret just how much they will boost Australia’s chances of retaining the Ashes. After a difficult summer, it would be on everyone’s hearts and minds for the Aussies to mark the return of their two best batsmen with a massive showing against the English.
Someone other than Real Madrid to win the UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid have won the last three consecutive Champions League trophies, and four of the last five, in one of the most dominant periods ever seen in Europe. That all could be about to change this year, following the shock resignation of manager Zinedine Zidane, and the transfer of the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. Real Madrid have never been so vulnerable as they have been this season and could crash out of Europe leading to a new champion for the first time since 2015. A host of teams could be ready to take the mantle, including Ronaldo’s Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City and Liverpool. It’s shaping up to be a competitive tournament, one all football fans are excited to see.
Consistency in the AFL’s MRO Ruling
Last season saw the AFL’s adoption of an MRO as opposed to an MRP for match review decisions. Michael Christian was the man at the helm of this and the AFL had hoped this would bring consistency to the decisions, but it hasn’t. There will still high-profile instances of the laws not being implemented, most notably Ryan Burton’s head-high bump on Shaun Higgins, which resulted in Higgins leaving the field in a stretcher and requiring surgery to repair a busted lip. Burton received no suspension and it left the AFL wondering what needs to be done to ensure this doesn’t keep on happening. Christian has another season to prove he’s the man for the job, otherwise the AFL will have to seriously look into reforming this once again, if they want things to be fair and just.
Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov II
We wished for their first fight to take place for last year, and it did, following controversies surrounding racism and chairs being thrown at buses, it happened. The fight itself was boring, the Russian outclassing his opponent for making him tap, but it was what happened post-fight that got everyone talking. Responding to jibes from McGregor’s camp, Khabib leapt over the cage and started a mass brawl, shocking the whole world. Fines and suspensions were brandished out, and Vegas wasn’t happy. Dana White has recently said the fight will happen, and we would love to see it. McGregor has to use this opportunity to redeem himself and prove he’s still the champ he once was, and many are curious to see a rematch following the brawl and incidents from the previous fight. Make it happen, Dana.
Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury
It’s what many are saying would be the biggest fight in British Boxing history, two titans of the heavyweight division going at it for the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Joshua’s rise has been nothing short of spectacular, including dethroning Wladimir Klitschko on his way to his glory, but Tyson Fury’s comeback from mental health has been one for the ages, and many are calling for the two to finally put pen to paper, and make this fight happen. Fury took part in one of the most controversial draws last December against another heavyweight contender, Deontay Wilder, and it seems as though Fury’s superior showing as earned him a title fight against Anthony Joshua. Holding this at Wembley would make it even more of a show, and one of the most anticipated fights boxing has ever seen.
A competitive NBA Finals
Last year we called for the NBA Playoffs to be competitive, and they were. LeBron James somehow carried the Cleveland Cavaliers through the East, amidst hitting game winners and racking up triple-doubles for fun, and the Golden State Warriors survived a major scare from the Houston Rockets and NBA MVP James Harden, in the Western Conference Finals. Once the two teams met in the Finals, however, it was anything but competitive. A J.R Smith blunder in Game 1 was the highlight of the series, as the Warriors went on to sweep the Cavs off the floor. This season, the Warriors look more vulnerable than ever before, with chemistry and fatigue plaguing the team, despite the shock acquisition of injured star Demarcus Cousins. Golden State face stiff competition throughout the West, in LeBron’s Lakers, the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City and Denver, while the East is as open as it’s ever been following LeBron’s departure. The Playoffs and Finals are finally looking like the dogfight we’ve all been craving to see.
The Matlidas to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup
It hasn’t been the greatest few years in Aussie sport, as we have consistently churned out poorer national teams as the years go by. We haven’t ranked in the top 5 in the Olympics since 2008, our cricket team’s a mess and we don’t even look like going far in the AFC Asian Cup. Luckily for us, the Matildas are setting Women’s football alight, with some dazzling displays. Lead by the talismanic Sam Kerr, fresh off a 5th place finish in the first ever Ballon d’Or Feminin, the Matildas look like one of the favourites to win the Women’s World Cup, and cap off another trophy for Australia to be proud of.
Nick Kyrgios to put his demons to bed and win a Grand Slam
Not in a long time has there been a more divisive Australian athlete than Nick Kyrgios. At best he’s unplayable, at his worst he’s uncoachable, it seems inevitable that he’ll either be a case of “what might’ve been”, or he could be one of our best ever Tennis stars. He’s currently ranked no. 51 in the world, but has peaked at no. 13, and has the talent to go far, just his mental barrier prevent him from doing so. We may love to hate him, but he’s our most talented Tennis player in years, and he is still only 23 years old. If he can finally clear his mind of any doubts and dramas, and play to his strengths, he could show the world how good he is and finally win the Grand Slam we know he’s capable of winning.