The World Cup of Soccer and Wimbledon both come to a close
overseas this weekend, while the first half of both the baseball
and WNBA schedules similarly come to an end. Also taking place
over the next few days are three CFL contests and a Nextel Cup
It's Italy versus France on Sunday in the championship
match of the 2006 World Cup. The Italians advanced to the title
game by bouncing Germany 2-0 in their semi-final matchup, while
the French picked up a 1-0 semi-final win over Portugal.
Oddsmakers opened Italy as +175 favorites in this game, a line
which has dropped as low as +145 at some books. France, who
started as +185 underdogs, are now up to as much as +240.
Saturday's 3rd Place Game at the World Cup sees Germany
battling Portugal, with the Germans sitting as big favorites (as
much as -135). The Portuguese will be taking on both Germany and
the crowd noise in this game, and were opened as +290 underdogs.
Across the English Channel the grass courts of Wimbledon will
be busy this weekend as the tournament champions are crowned
(weather permitting). Friday features the men's semi-final
matches, with top-seeded Roger Federer taking on Jonas Bjorkman,
and second-seeded Rafael Nadal playing Marcos Baghdatis. On
Saturday it's the women's final, with No. 3 Justine
Henin-Hardenne matched up against No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, while
the men's final is slated for Sunday.
On the diamond, the first half of the baseball season
concludes this weekend, with the All-Star Game on tap for
Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The best matchup slated for the
next few days takes place in Chicago, where the White Sox will
be playing host to the Boston Red Sox. The ChiSox are still
trailing the Detroit Tigers in the competitive AL Central
division, while the BoSox are holding onto their lead atop the
AL East division.
Other series around the American League this weekend include
Baltimore at Cleveland, the New York Yankees at Tampa Bay,
Minnesota at Texas, Toronto at Kansas City, Detroit at Seattle,
and the Los Angeles Angels at Oakland in a battle of Western
Over in the senior circuit the NL West division continues to
be tightly bunched at the top, but with Arizona at Colorado and
San Francisco at the Los Angeles Dodgers over the next few days
we could see a bit of separation take place. The other NL West
club, the San Diego Padres, will go to the nation's capital to
take on Washington this weekend.
Elsewhere in the National League it's Pittsburgh at
Philadelphia in an all-Pennsylvania matchup, along with Florida
at the New York Mets, Cincinnati at Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs at
Milwaukee, and the struggling St. Louis Cardinals doing battle
out in Houston.
The first half of the WNBA season also winds down this
weekend, with the league's Western All-Stars set to take on the
Eastern All-Stars at 7:00pm ET on Wednesday night. The
league-leading Los Angeles Sparks play host to the Indiana Fever
on Friday in the day's marquee contest, while Sacramento visits
Washington, Houston travels out to San Antonio, Minnesota hosts
Detroit, and New York goes west to take on Chicago.
On Saturday it's Phoenix at Connecticut and Charlotte at Los
Angeles, while Sunday sees the weekend wrap up with Phoenix at
New York, Chicago at Washington, Detroit at Houston, San Antonio
at Minnesota, Charlotte at Sacramento, and Indiana at Seattle.
Around the Canadian Football League, the British Columbia
Lions will take on Western foe Edmonton late on Friday night.
The Lions opened as 1-point road favorites versus the Eskimos,
but that line has since dropped to Edmonton -1 at home. On
Saturday it'll be Winnipeg at Toronto (-1.5) and Calgary at
Saskatchewan (-2.5) to wrap up the week.
And finally, the Nextel Cup Series continues its schedule on
Sunday afternoon with the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland
Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr., third in the current standings,
won this event last season, while Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, and
Kevin Harvick have also managed to pick up victories at the
Joliet track in their racing careers.
Jimmie Johnson continues to lead the Nextel Cup driver
standings after 17 events, but his advantage has shrunk to only
eight points on second-place Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne, Stewart,
Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Harvick, and Denny Hamlin
are the other drivers currently above the cutoff line for the
2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup.