September Sports Preview : Big Month for Joshua
September is going to be another action packed month. The first week or so will see the conclusion of the US Open tennis with Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty looking strong favourites to win the titles. After that, it's a feast of Champions League football, The Ryder Cup and then a world title defence by Anthony Joshua. Let's take a look at those three events.
Chelsea Begin Defence of Champions League Title
September sees the European competitions begin their group stages. There are two sets of fixtures being played on the 14th/15th and 28th/29th in the Champions League. The draw has created some absolute barnstomers and that's illustrated by some of the games being played in September.
Chelsea are the defending champions and they begin their group with matches against Zenit St Petersburg and then a trip to Juventus. There's no Cristiano Ronaldo for the Italians, he's now back at Manchester United. They must be strong contenders now after a massive transfer window. They begin their Champions League group with a trip to Young Boys and then on the 29th, a rematch of the Europa League final against Villarreal.
Liverpool haven't got the easiest of groups. They begin with a home game against Milan and then travel to Porto. The other team in the group is La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, so getting into the knockout rounds will be a tough task.
Manchester City still haven't won this competition and meet another team yearning to win the Champions League. City begin with a home game against RB Leipzig but then on the 29th travel to PSG and will come up against a certain Lionel Messi. Also in their group are Club Brugge.
Away from English teams, there are great clashes between Barcelona and Bayern Munich in Spain on September 14. Inter won Serie A last season but haven't done too well in the Champions League in recent years. They host Real Madrid on September 15, the second season in a row they've been in the same group.That's just some of the great September Champions League matches.
Can Europe Retain the Ryder Cup?
Europe have won four of the last five Ryder Cup matches. The last was held in France in 2018 and saw the Europeans regain the cup from the USA winning by seven clear points. The Americans last won the Ryder Cup when the match was played on home soil in 2016 with a 17-11 win.
The last three Ryder Cup matches have been won by at least five points. Hopefully, we'll get a closer match at the wonderfully named Whistling Straits from September 24-26. Steve Stricker is the USA captain, while Padraig Harrington is the European captain hoping to bring the cup home. The USA start September with nine of the top 11 players in the world. However, it's Jon Rahm from Spain who is currently at top of the rankings.
Many of the European team have a lot of experience of the USPGA tour, so it's not completely foreign territory to them. America have won two of the last three matches played on home soil and are the favourites to again win the cup.
Joshua Defends His Belts against Usyk
The big showdown with Tyson Fury probably won't take place until 2022 now. It could even be Joshua v Wilder if the American regains his WBC Heavyweight title when he faces Fury in October. In the meantime, Joshua puts his belts on the line at the New White Hart Lane Stadium against former cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday September 25.
Usyk is having only his third fight in the heavyweight division. He beat Chazz Wetherspoon in 2019 and then on Halloween night last year, beat Dereck Chisora on points, though two judges only had Usyk a couple of points ahead. Usyk dominated the cruiserweight division and came over to the UK to beat Tony Bellew in eight rounds. Can he handle a big punching heavyweight such as Joshua though.
The defending champion is having his first fight since knocking out Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds last December. He has so much at stake here, lose and perhaps get a rematch with Usyk, win and he can just wait for the mega fights next year to be confirmed. Joshua won't have it easy against the classy Usyk but he'll have the edge with weight and punching and he can win this inside the distance to retain his title.