Bayern Munich to win the Champions League –
With Pep hanging up his lederhosen and taking his super sharp wardrobe most likely to some place in Manchester, the verdict on the success of his time at Bayern hinges on success in the Champions League. Two Bundesliga’s and and FIFA Club World Cup are well and good, but his time at the club will be seen as a failure without winning Old Big Ears.
With Lionel Messi suffering a spate of injury niggles, Neymar also needing some time off and Luis Saurez always about four seconds from going all Hannibal Lector on an opponent, Barca’s depth will be tested. Plus they’ll have to fight to the end for the La Liga title while Bayern could probably send out a team of Dachshunds wearing football kit for the second half of the season and still win the league. If that wasn’t enough, no team has defended the Champions League in the unnecessary rebrand era. Bayern have a lot on their favour.
Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship –
‘Beware the regular season hot-streakers’ is generally a decent rule of thumb when it comes to the pointlessly elongated NBA season, but such has been the dominance of the Warriors that a successful defence of their title looks very much on the cards. They started the season with a record-breaking run of 24 consecutive wins, but more than that really showed their class by putting up some huge numbers on some really decent teams. They are heavily reliant on the efforts of Steph Curry, but they have enough talent around the court to defy the lazy label of being a ‘one-man-team’. With last year’s trophy already on their mantelpiece, they shouldn’t suffer any play-off jitters, so they look like a very solid bet.
Jordan Spieth to win a major in 2016 –
He won two of them in 2015 and finished second and tied fourth in the other two. The American prodigy will win more majors and at least one of them should come in 2016. Unless his non-existent wife comes running at him with a seven iron and ruins his game forever.
Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon –
With Rafa Nadal’s body falling apart, an aging Roger Federer not quite reaching the heights of a few years back and Andy Murray being a bit ‘meh’, the stage is set for Nole to sweep the board and really make an assault on Fed’s overall Grand Slam record. He’ll be desperate to finally win the French Open and complete a career Grand Slam, but Wimbledon is probably the venue in which his superiority over the field is most pronounced. He’s looking to make it three titles on the bounce and if he turns up fit and healthy, he’ll do it.
USA to win the Ryder Cup –
With the more than a 90 per cent chance* that our 2016 acca is still rolling in September, press on by backing TEAM USA to win the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine GC, Minnesota. A Seve Ballesteros and Paddy Power Sky Tweets-inspired Miracle in Medinah gave Europe an unlikely three wins on the bounce in 2014 – but there’ll be no repeat this year.
The Yanks are mad – and not just the ones who think Donald Trump will make a great President. Having jettisoned Tom ‘I blame the players’ Watson, the US of A have gotten their game face on again but this time its player-led. and really, really, really want to win. For the States read the young guns of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler & Brooks Kopeka being supported by fan – if not player favourites Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson & Patrick Reed.
With the exception of Justin Rose, Europe will struggle with the fear factor and anyone not named Rory McIlroy. But no matter which way you slice it, he can’t – unlike stroke-play tournaments – win it on his own.
The States are evens now to win the 2016 Ryder Cup. Break open the piggy bank and lump on.
*figures may be based on wild optimism, not statistics