FootballRamstein at Wiesbaden Friday The much-anticipated Royals-Warriors matchup is definitely a European championship game rematch. In all likelihood, it’s also a European championship game preview. A deep and speedy Wiesbaden team stunned undefeated Ramstein to take the 2013 Division I European title last fall. All signs point to a second edition of that game waiting at the end of this year’s fast-approaching postseason. The Warriors and Royals have stomped through the 2014 season in undefeated and often dominant fashion, producing matching 3-0 records and reestablishing themselves as the class of the continent. They’ve been challenged more recently – Kaiserslautern hung with the Royals for a half before fading on Saturday, and Vilseck found some success against the Warriors in a 32-17 defeat. But it’s hard to envision anything but a Wiesbaden-Ramstein rematch Nov. 1. Friday’s game, then, should fit into one of two scenarios. The first – an intense battle sees both sides using all available resources to assert their superiority and damage the opponents’ confidence. The second – a more subdued affair has the teams withholding their best sets and strategies in hopes of deploying them to more effect with the title on the line. Whatever form it takes, the game should be instructive. The seemingly inevitable rematch in three weeks, however, could be epic.International School of Brussels at SHAPE Saturday The top tier of DODDS-Europe Division II football teams have already clinched their postseason berths. And though they’re still playing for playoff positioning, that takes the edge off some of this weekend’s marquee matchups, including Hohenfels versus Vicenza, Aviano’s intracountry trip to Naples and upstart Rota’s visit to front-running Ansbach. But there’s no such damper on this game. The winner will move on to the postseason; the loser will hang up their pads for another long offseason. SHAPE pulled off a surprise run to the European championship game last fall, but the Spartans enter the final weekend of the regular season at risk of sitting out this postseason entirely. To underscore their narrow margin for error, SHAPE saved its season by only a single point last weekend in a 13-12 win over Alconbury. ISB had no luck with strong Italian teams to start the season, but the Raiders have pulled off a two-game winning streak by kicking around Alconbury and Menwith Hill/Woodham, fellow members of the weaker north region. But they’ll have to knock off the north’s reigning power to earn another shot at distant DODDS-Europe foes.
VolleyballVilseck, Ramstein at Wiesbaden Saturday The appeal of this three-team meet is simple. Three of the top contenders for the Division I European championship will share a court just three weeks ahead of the European tournament. The highly-improved, homestanding Warriors are the last remaining unbeaten team in the division after edging fellow contender Patch last weekend. The Falcons announced their arrival as a strong contender in beating Ramstein on its home court on Saturday. The Royals have lost to both, but it’s far too soon to discount their chances at a fourth consecutive European championship. New Division I contenders like Naples, Vicenza and SHAPE will make the European tournament more interesting. It’s very possible, however, that the eventual champion will be one of the three teams on the court in Wiesbaden on Saturday.