Tanya Lee | My champions of 2018
At the start of each calendar year, I'm usually engrossed in heated debates with anyone with five available minutes as we explore our many and varied views and predictions for the annual sporting season. Not so, sadly, for 2018, where the results across some of my favourite sports are already a foregone conclusion.
With some four months remaining in most football leagues, the champions have already been decided right across the board. As more of the clubs move to build world-class squads to contend for the UEFA Champions League title, the race to their respective league titles will become even easier. Manchester City are 15 points ahead and unreachable in the English Premier League. Bayern Munich have already basically won their sixth straight Bundesliga title with 16 clear points in front of Leon Bailey's Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, and Barcelona's depth suggests the La Liga title is in the bag with a whopping 11-point lead over a much weaker Atletico Madrid in Spain. Even the Red Stripe Premier League seems likely to end with a repeat of last season's final as Portmore United and Arnett Gardens are head and shoulders above the pack so far this season.
In the NFL Super Bowl this Sunday, the odds are highly in favour of the New England Patriots. I very rarely bet against champions, and with arguably the greatest quarterback in Super Bowl history, Tom Brady, the Patriots have the pedigree and experience to see them through to their franchise's sixth NFL title.
LACK OF CHEMISTRY
In the NBA, the two-horse race of the past three seasons has diminished with the Golden State Warriors now overwhelming favourites. Defence wins championships, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are having a nightmare season so far with one of the worst defensive displays in the league, a lack of chemistry on the floor and passive turmoil within the locker room, which accounts for their inconsistent results so far. This was only further compounded this week by the injury to Kevin Love. On the flip side, the Golden State Warriors are even deeper than last season. Irrespective of who Steve Kerr meets in the west, then the finals, his star-studded quartet should secure Golden State's back-to-back title.
In track and field for 2018, while the purists will be thoroughly engrossed in this season like any other, there isn't much to capture for the casual fan. With no World Championships or Summer Olympics to grab collective national interest, the biggest event on local minds is the Boys and Girls' Athletic Championships. Girls' Champs will likely return to the ladies of Frankfield, Clarendon, at Edwin Allen High. Calabar High will probably capture their seventh straight title, despite possible competition from Jamaica College and Kingston College.
Any surprises in the world of sport this year will likely come from the world's two premier football events. The UEFA Champions League has a substantial list of contenders for the title with Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Barcelona, and Manchester City still in contention. If I am forced to make any early predictions, I will go with Barcelona, merely based on form.
For the greatest show on earth, the FIFA World Cup in June and July, while Germany, Spain, France, and Brazil are early favourites, I hope the boys of Brazil will lift the title some 60 years after Pele did so, also on European soil.
Somehow, I think my predictions are right in line with the average sports fan, so we all wait, hoping that by some miracle, the tides may change. Maybe this Sunday the underdogs of Philadelphia will overcome the giant that is the New England Patriots to secure their first-ever hold on the Vince Lombardi trophy. Or maybe Manchester City or Barcelona will miraculously stumble and change the course of a seemingly predictable sporting season.