Can Saracens pull another performance out of the top drawer in today's Champions Cup semi-final? The holders will need to against the swashbuckling men from Paris
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from anywhere
Is it written in the stars that Saracens will conquer Europe yet again?
Cast your mind back to January, when the reigning champions played Racing 92 in their final Champions Cup pool match. Needing victory, by half-time they had lost Billy Vunipola to injury, had Will Skelton sent off and trailed on the scoreboard.
They squeezed home 27-24 on the back of Owen Farrell’s late penalty, clinching the final knockout qualifying place. Then came another scare as they escaped with a fine instead of expulsion after it was found they had fielded an ineligible player – USA prop Tito Lamositele’s work permit had expired the day before the match.
Watch highlights of that pool match here.
So Saracens might never have gone to Leinster last week, when their depleted squad produced one of the great European performances. A mix of physical dominance, set-piece execution and ruthless points harvesting – largely emanating from the boots of Alex Goode and Elliot Daly – saw the favourites dispatched.
Not surprisingly, Saracens have picked the identical XV and bench for today’s semi-final against Racing (1pm). Michael Rhodes, named Man of the Match in Dublin, was rather pointlessly cited for a tackle on Robbie Henshaw and had his case dismissed in midweek.
The loss of ten players since the salary cap scandal has forced Saracens to demand even more of their starting stars. They used only four subs in Leinster, the first coming on with 17 minutes to go. Tighthead Vincent Koch, who with Jamie George did such a superb job against Cian Healy, is one of many who will need to dig deep again in Paris La Défense Arena.
DID YOU KNOW? Saracens have conceded only 7.4 penalties a match in this season’s Champions Cup – the best figure in the competition
Anyone who thinks that Saracens, gunning for a record-equalling fourth crown, have done the hardest part should reconsider. Racing have made a flying start to their Top 14 season and caught Clermont cold last week to win with plenty to spare. They are basically “Paris Saint-Germain on acid”, wrote Rob Kitson in The Guardian.
They have won ten out of their last 11 Champions Cup home games and racked up 88 clean breaks in this season’s competition – 20 of them dazzingly against Saracens back in round one last November (30-10).
Virimi Vakatawa has beaten 42 defenders (to go with seven turnovers) and if Racing do win this afternoon, he’ll probably be one of the decisive factors. A glance at the ‘defenders beaten’ chart (below) is enough to make Sarries fans shudder.
Scotland fly-half Finn Russell has been pulling the strings for Racing, and Sarries full-back Daly said: “You always have to be wary of what Finn can do. He’s a player who will try things and when it comes off it’s brilliant. We’re looking at what we can do to nullify that.”
Racing make two changes to the XV that won at Clermont. Teddy Thomas replaces injured wing Louis Dupichot while Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan comes in for Bernard Le Roux.
The French side have twice been finalists, losing to Saracens (2016) and Leinster (2018), and will be desperate not to let another opportunity to win Europe’s top club trophy pass them by.
Welshman Nigel Owens, who took charge of the pool meeting at Allianz Park, takes the whistle again.
Should Saracens win, we would be halfway towards only the second all-English European Cup final in history. The previous one was in 2007 when Wasps beat Leicester at Twickenham.
Racing: Simon Zebo; Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Olivier Klemenczak, Juan Imhoff; Finn Russell, Teddy Iribaren (capt); Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Georges Henri Colombe, Donnacha Ryan, Dominic Bird, Wenceslas Lauret, Fabien Sanconnie, Antonie Claassen.
How to watch Racing v Saracens from outside your country
If you’re abroad but still want to watch your local Champions Cup coverage, like Racing v Saracens, you can do so by using a VPN – Virtual Private Network. VPNs allow you to get around any geo-blocking by changing your IP address so you appear in a different location and can watch the same legal Champions Cup live stream you would at home.
Our friends at TechRadar have tested hundreds of VPN and recommend ExpressVPN, which is easy to use, has strong security features and allows you to watch on several devices at once, including smart TVs and phones, iPads, tablets, PCs and Macs.
Plus, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a month for free or sign up for an annual plan and get three months free.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from the UK & Ireland
Racing v Saracens, which kicks off at 1pm on Saturday, will be shown live on BT Sport 3 in the UK and Ireland. If you don’t have a BT contract but want to watch the match, don’t worry because you can still easily watch it online.
That’s because BT Sport has a contract-free monthly pass that allows you to get instant access to all four of their sport channels for just £25.
If you’re from the UK but are overseas when Racing v Saracens takes place, you can get your normal live stream but you’ll need a VPN – see the information above.
Channel 4 are also showing Racing v Saracens on free-to-air television in the UK while Virgin One are doing the same in Ireland.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from France
To watch Racing v Saracens (kick-off 2pm) in France, beIN Sports is the place to go as they are the main rights holders. It costs €15 a month to access the coverage or if you commit to six months you get a discount of €12 a month.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from the USA
If you live in the States, the official broadcaster of Champions Cup matches is NBC, with matches streamed on NBC Sports Gold so you can watch them anytime and anywhere.
Racing v Saracens will kick off at 8am EST and 5am on the West Coast.
The NBC Sports Gold Pass for rugby is $79.99 and includes coverage of the Gallagher Premiership, European Champions and Challenge Cups, and Guinness Six Nations.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from Australia
For those in Australia, a subscription to digital rugby network RugbyPass allows you to watch Racing v Saracens at 10pm (AEST). Subscriptions start from US$4.99 a month.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from New Zealand
Spark Sport, the live and on-demand streaming service, has the rights to show Racing v Saracens in New Zealand. It kicks off at midnight.
It costs $24.99 for a monthly subscription and you can also sign up for a seven-day FREE trial.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from South Africa
SuperSport has the rights to broadcast the Champions Cup in South Africa and you can watch Racing v Saracens at 2pm.
There are various DStv packages available that give access to SuperSport, ranging from EasyView, with access to Blitz, to Premium, with all ten sports channels.
Racing v Saracens live stream: How to watch from elsewhere
EPCR have launched an OTT service, epcrugby.tv, so you can stream live Champions Cup matches outside of its core broadcast territories (UK & Ireland, France, USA, Malta, Spain, Andorra and Sub-Saharan Africa).
It’s €2.99 to watch a single Champions Cup match or you can buy a season pass to watch all of the remaining games of the 2019-20 campaign for €11.99. Or if you want to watch both the Champions and Challenge Cups, it’s €17.99 for a season pass for the rest of 2019-20.
We recommend VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:
- Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service)
- Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad
We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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