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Three sporting figures in the spotlight this weekend

Sports Mole picks out three sporting figures who will be in the spotlight this weekend.

This weekend is jam-packed with many huge sporting events - whether it be the much-anticipated boxing, a full catalogue of pre-season fixtures or even the annual Fish'O'Mania in Staffordshire, there is plenty for everyone to savour.

Here, Sports Mole takes a look at three figures in particular who will be in the spotlight over the coming days.


1. Phil Taylor

Since the World Matchplay's inaugural event back in 1994, Phil Taylor - the greatest darts player that has ever lived - has well and truly dominated things. Since his first success in 1995, when he defeated Dennis Priestley to come out on top, only five other players have managed to put their hands on the trophy.

Phil Taylor of England reacts after winning a set during his quarter final match against Vincent van der Voort of the Netherlands on day twelve of the 2015 World Championships on January 2, 2015© Getty Images

In fact, you have to go back nearly a decade to find the last time Taylor failed to win the competition, that coming in 2007 when Terry Jenkins edged out The Power at the semi-final stage. Normal service was soon resumed, however, and Taylor heads into this year's World Matchplay as a strong contender once more.

Despite his illustrious past in Blackpool, he is not quite the favourite, with that honour instead going to world number one Michael van Gerwen - the same man he beat on this very stage 12 months ago to lift his 78th PDC Major. MVP shed a tear when defeated at Winter Gardens in the 2014 edition, so he will no doubt be on top of his game to go one better this time around.

There is also the small matter of Gary Anderson searching for an impressive Triple Crown on the back of his World Championship and Premier League triumphs so far this year. It promises to be a week of real tension on the seaside, as the world's best players face off once again.


2. Jurgen Klinsmann

While Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard's respective switches to Los Angeles Galaxy and New York City FC have further strengthened the profile of Major League Soccer, the US national side have been continuously improving over a long period of time.

USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann during the International Friendly match between Scotland and USA at Hampden Park on November 15, 2013© Getty Images

Jurgen Klinsmann's men certainly caught the eye at the World Cup last summer, putting in a brave but ultimately futile showing against Belgium to see their hopes dented in the knockout stages. Attention quickly turned to their CONCACAF Gold Cup prospects, and it is so far so good for the Stars and Stripes.

After grinding their way to top place in a tough-looking Group A, the US now face Cuba in Baltimore aiming to keep alive their dream of winning the North American competition on home soil. Cuba themselves finished third in their own group, below Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, which is no mean feat considering they had significant travel woes in the build-up to the event.

Victory for the hosts and they will be just two games away from lifting the trophy, but that is just the start of the journey as far as Klinsmann is concerned. The German boss has stressed the importance of gaining a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup, which he believes will provide the valuable experience needed heading into the next World Cup. Making waves on the biggest stage is very much the target, then, yet America still have small steps to take in the meantime - starting with Cuba this evening.


3. Laurent Frayssinous

As the Super 8s move into focus, the pressure is really on certain teams to build momentum in order to secure a spot among Super League's elite. Catalans Dragons are among those aiming to finish in the top eight, and with two regular-season fixtures to go things are very much still in their own hands.

Catalan Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous during the match against London Broncos on March 28, 2013© Getty Images

The Dragons currently occupy eighth spot, sitting two points ahead of Hull Kingston Rovers and three above Widnes Vikings and Salford Red Devils. Weekend opponents Huddersfield Giants have already confirmed their berth in the Super 8s, while a win for Laurent Frayssinous's men will likely also be enough for them to achieve their minimum target for the campaign.

For the other sides, they will have to make do with a place in the qualifiers - or the 'middle eight' - which is made up of the bottom four sides in the Super League and the top four teams in the Championship. The final league, which will be known as the Championship Shield, will then be contested by the remaining second-tier outfits.

Results to date still stand for those in the Super 8s, so Huddersfield will be looking to improve their current record, while for Catalans it is a case of simply getting over the line. Two defeats in their last two does not bode all that well in truth, and with Leeds Rhinos still to play, a positive result in a humid Southern France could prove crucial this evening.


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Gary Anderson of Scotland celebrates winning his semi-final match against Dave Chisnall of England during the Betway Premier League at The 02 Arena on May 21, 2015
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