Sunday, April 10, 2022

Pennant Fever

For the first time in years, we have a real pennant race in England.  Today Manchester City hosted Liverpool, and the two top teams in England played to a pulsating 2-2 tie.  So the top of the standings now looks like this:

1.  Man City:  23-3-5 (74 points)
2.  Liverpool:  22-2-7 (73)
3.  Chelsea:  18-4-8 (62)
4.  Tottenham:  18-10-3 (57)
5.  Arsenal:  17-10-3 (54)

Each of the contenders has seven games left.

Of course, Man City and Liverpool are both in the quarter-finals of the Champions' League.  The quarter-finals are two leg matches, with each quarter-finalist hosting one leg.  So far the first legs have been played, and the second legs will be played next week.  Right now the quarter-finals look like this (the team listed second will host the second leg):

Chelsea (ENG) 1 - 3 Real Madrid (ESP) (second leg on April 12)
Manchester City (ENG) 1 - 0 Atletico Madrid (ESP) (April 13)
Villareal (ESP) 1 - 0 Bayern Munich (GER) (April 12)
Benfica (POR) 1 - 3 Liverpool (ENG) (April 13)

It seems very likely that Liverpool and Real Madrid will both advance, but the other two matches appear to be up for grabs.

But that's still not all.  City and Liverpool have also both reached the semi-finals in the F.A. Cup, and they will play next Saturday at Wembley Stadium.  Here's what that draw looks like:

Manchester City v. Liverpool (Wembley, April 16)
Chelsea v. Crystal Palace (Wembley, April 17)

So after years of COVID disruptions, English football fans are finally about to experience about two months' worth of old school drama.


  1. Celtic is going to win the Scottish league; they have 82 points to 76 for Rangers. Celtic and Rangers are also set to meet in the semi-final of the Scottish FA Cup.

  2. Real Madrid is running away with La Liga in Spain. They are 12 points clear of Barcelona with seven games left.

  3. In Italy, Serie A is still up for grabs. Here's what it looks like:

    1. AC Milan: 20-4-8 (68 points)
    2. Inter Milan: 19-3-8 (66)
    3. Napoli: 20-6-6 (66)

  4. And, of course, Bayern Munich is nine points clear in the Bundesliga, the league that they win every year.

  5. The Orioles are playing the Brewers, and both teams seem to have returned to their logos from the early 1980's. I feel like Earl Weaver should be in the Orioles' dugout.

  6. Back in the early 1980's, I liked all the teams that played on natural grass (except for the Yankees), so I had sympathy for the O's and the Brewers.

  7. The Washington Post is reporting that the Lerners are thinking of selling Natstown, so Baltimore may soon be the best baseball team in the DMV.

  8. Chelsea scored three times in Madrid to take a 4-3 lead over Real Madrid, but Real Madrid scored in the 80th minute to tie the match. In extra time, Real Madrid scored again for a 5-4 aggregate victory. So Chelsea are eliminated.

  9. In Munich, Bayern Munich scored in the 52d minute to tie their match with Villareal at 1-all, but Villareal (representing a small town of about 50,000 people north of Valencia) scored in the 88th minute for a stunning 2-1 victory. Bayern are eliminated, and Villareal moves to the semis.

  10. Atletico Madrid and Manchester City are still scoreless entering the 88th minute, which means that Atletico Madrid is on the verge of elimination. And that, of course, means it's time for a big fight -- Atletico Madrid is the West Virginia of soccer teams.

  11. We've now had over 10 1/2 minutes of injury time, and Atletico Madrid is still out there scrapping around. They are a nightmare to play against.

  12. In the 11th minute of injury time, down to 10 men because of a red card, Atletico Madrid comes THIS CLOSE to scoring. But they don't make it. The game finally ends in a 0-0 draw, and Manchester City wins 1-0 on aggregate.

  13. Liverpool and Benfica play an entertaining 3-3 draw, and Liverpool advances 6-4 on aggregate.

  14. So now the draw is set for the Champions' League Semi-Finals, which will also be two-leg matches:

    Manchester City (ENG) v. Real Madrid (ESP)
    Liverpool (ENG) v. Villareal (ESP)

  15. In the FA Cup, Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-2, and Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 2-0. So the FA Cup Final, on May 14, will feature Liverpool and Chelsea. That's a very solid matchup, which makes me happy for the Cup Final.

  16. In the Scottish Cup Semi-Finals, Heart of Midlothian defeated Hibernian 2-1, and Rangers beat Celtic 2-1. So Rangers will play Hearts on May 21 for the Scottish Cup Final.

  17. Liverpool has a huge league game tomorrow at home against Manchester United. The Reds need that game to keep up with Man City.