This Weekend’s Big Match-Ups
This week offers some of the most intriguing matchups of the season so far, with the NFL and NBA seasons becoming more and more intense with every week, and of course, the momentous occasion of the FIFA World Cup Final to look forward to. With huge clashes happening wherever you look, let’s take a look at some of the best matchups happening this weekend in the world of sport.
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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Utah Jazz (December 16th)
The high-flying Milwaukee Bucks take on the season’s surprise packages in the Utah Jazz in a fascinating contest that will tell us a lot about the state of the two teams, and how big their chances of winning the NBA Championship this year actually are. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on fire this season, and his recent stellar performance against the defending champions Golden State Warriors has made everyone acutely aware of how dangerous he continues to be, and how much of a threat he alone can be to the other teams in the Eastern Conference.
However, this year’s Utah Jazz have surprised everyone so far, as they have managed to stay in the eighth seed in the Western Conference after slipping down from an incredible second seed a couple of weeks ago. This is despite trading away their two stars, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, during the off-season. Their progress has been stunning, but it does feel like this rampant Bucks team might be too much for them on this occasion, with Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton working incredibly well together in recent games, and the revitalization of Brook Lopez this season being one of the most fascinating upturns in form we have seen from a big in the NBA in recent years.
NBA schedule on TV and stream.
UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs. Strickland (December 17th)
The UFC returns this weekend with an intriguing card for their latest Fight Night promotion. Tricky Jared Cannonier (15-6-0) takes on the brute force of Sean Strickland (25-4-0) in the middleweight division as the main event, with the winner probably moving up to being that much closer to a title shot after the Adesanya and Pereira rematch is taken care of. These two are UFC veterans at this point, and the press conference along with the fight itself should provide some incredible fireworks.
Further down the card, Amir Albazi (15-1-0) takes on Alessandro Costa (11-2-0) in the lightweight division in the battle of two rising stars with few blemishes on their records. Albazi, in particular, is one of the most exciting talents fighting out of London, and his dominant win over the technical wizard Francisco Figueiredo in August 2022 further solidified his reputation as one of the most dangerous lightweights around at the moment. It should be a fight for the ages.
UFC schedule here.
NFL: Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins (December 17th)
This year has been fantastic for Josh Allen and his destructive Buffalo Bills, his amazing play leading them to a 10-3 record and almost certainly one of the top seeds in the playoffs this year. Allen has had the best statistical season of his career so far, and the Bills might finally deliver on the potential they have shown repeatedly over the past few years and get to a Super Bowl, perhaps even winning it.
Standing in their way, though, are the 8-5 Miami Dolphins who have not been slouches this season themselves. Aside from a couple of losses in recent weeks, the Dolphins have looked incredibly strong defensively, and have shown a tendency to win extremely close games at the death, a hallmark of a side that goes deep in the playoffs. These Dolphins have come out of nowhere this season, but they have emerged as a real contender, and they could give a bruising reality check to the Bills if they perform to their best. It’s going to be a matchup to remember.
NFL schedule on TV and stream.
FIFA World Cup Final: Argentina vs. France (December 18th)
Finally, the biggest match of the year and possible of the last decade. Argentina’s legendary forward Lionel Messi will be playing his last-ever World Cup match for his country, and it happens to be his second World Cup Final against a France team that, despite being depleted by injuries, have looked strong all tournament. However, Argentina have started to play well themselves, and their 3-0 win over former finalists Croatia in the semi-finals has led to the nation starting to believe that Messi can replicate the feats of another Argentinian legend, Diego Maradona, in winning the World Cup for the South American giants.
France will be a tough test for them though, with Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, and Kylian Mbappé being especially destructive in the past few matches. They are the World Cup holders, and their team looks strong throughout, with the evergreen Hugo Lloris having an excellent World Cup as the French goalkeeper.
Messi will have to be on top form again to break down this stubborn French defense, but if anyone can do it, he can. It will be a story etched in history if Argentina manage to win, but this matchup really is too close to call.
Author: Alex Simeonidis