Manchester derby, Australian GP and UAE’s World Cup qualifier the week ahead

Graham Caygill gives you five events to watch in the coming week.

Six Nations final round, France v England, Saturday The climax to the Six Nations tournament begins with Wales taking on Italy and Ireland hosting Scotland. But all eyes are on Paris, where England, who have already won their first championship since 2011, aim for their first grand slam for 13 years. Eddie Jones's side will start as favourites on the back of their four wins from four games, but their wobbles in the wins over both Ireland and Wales in their past two games will give Guy Noves's men some hope that they can spoil the English party this evening.

Formula One, Australian Grand Prix, Sunday The first race of the 2016 season takes place in Melbourne, with Lewis Hamilton out to repeat his 2015 triumph at the Albert Park track, which set the Briton up for a comfortable run to his third drivers' title. His Mercedes-GP team have won the race for the past two years, with Nico Rosberg prevailing in 2014, and the German marque will start as favourites to complete an Australian treble. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, the winner of the 2011 race, is expected to be their nearest challenger in his Ferrari.

Premier League, Manchester City v Manchester United, Sunday Neither side can afford defeat in the Manchester derby clash at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. City are 12 points adrift of leaders Leicester City, albeit with a game in hand, and cannot afford to lose further ground with time running out. United have slipped to sixth in the table, four points behind City and the last Uefa Champions League qualifying spot. Expect a tense afternoon for both sets of fans of the Manchester clubs, knowing a loss could be catastrophic to their league hopes.

MotoGP, Qatar Grand Prix, Sunday The 2015 MotoGP season was one of the most acrimonious in the sport's history, with seven-time champion Valentino Rossi still upset about the grid penalty he received for the final race of the season in Valencia, after being found guilty of deliberately kicking Marc Marquez off his bike, which cost him the title as Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo took the championship. Lorenzo, Rossi and Marquez are all on the grid for Sunday's first race in Losail and are expected to duke it out at the front for victory.

World Cup qualifiers, UAE v Palestine, Thursday A big week for Mahdi Ali's men as they look to stay in the hunt in their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia. The UAE are on target to finish runner-up in Group A, which may not be enough to go further in the qualifying stages, with only the best four runners-up from the eight AFC groups going on to the next stage, and the UAE are currently sixth ranked. So victory over Palestine on Thursday and then leaders Saudi Arabia on March 29 are vital to them trying to win Group A.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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