Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pennant Fever

In recent years, we haven't paid too much attention to English soccer, because we were paying a lot of attention to the UK Wildcats.  But the Wildcats are done for the year, and baseball season hasn't started yet, so let's see what the English are up to.  The big news is that small-time Leicester City, which has never finished at the top of English Football, is still in the lead.  I cannot overstate what an upset it would be for Leicester to go all the way -- it would be like Kentucky winning the SEC in football.

But Leicester is not merely ahead -- they are 5 points ahead of Spurs, and at least 11 points ahead of everyone else.

It is a remarkable story.  I don't think Leicester has ever even qualified for the Champions League, and Spurs have only qualified once under the current format.  And now, those two are way ahead of the pack.  Meanwhile, West Ham -- another no-hoper -- is in a strong position to grab fourth place and qualify for the Champions League itself:

1.  Leicester City:  19-3-9 (66 points)
2.  Tottenham Hotspur:  17-4-10 (61 points)
3.  Arsenal:  16-7-7 (55 points)
4.  Manchester City:  15-9-6 (51 points)
5.  West Ham Utd:  13-6-11 (50 points) (goal differential of 12)
6.  Manchester Utd:  14-8-8 (50 points) (goal differential of 11)

Meanwhile, down at the other end of the table, Aston Villa is going to be relegated out of the top division for the first time since the 1986-87 season.  What an odd, odd year.

Here's what's been happening in the F.A. Cup:

1.  Leicester City was eliminated by Spurs in the Round of 64.
2.  Spurs were eliminated by Crystal Palace in the Round of 16.
3.  Arsenal were eliminated by Watford in the Round of 8.
4.  Manchester City were eliminated by Chelsea in the Round of 16.

So those teams are all out.

West Ham Utd and Manchester Utd have not yet completed their match in the round of 8.  Their first game ended in a 1-all tie.  They will have a replay at West Ham on April 13.

The other semi-finalists are Everton (12th place in the Premier League), Crystal Palace (16th Place in the Premier League), and Watford (14th place in the Premier League).  As you can see, these are some fairly mediocre squads.  So whoever wins between West Ham and Man Utd will be favored to lift the Cup.

Here's what's been happening in Europe:

Manchester City is the only English team still playing for the European Cup.  Here are the quarter-finalists in the Champions League:

Wolfsburg (GER) v. Real Madrid (ESP)
Bayern Munich (GER) v. Benfica (POR)
Barcelona (ESP) v. Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) v. Manchester City (ENG)

Barcelona is going for its second title in a row, and its fifth title since the 2005-06 season.  Real Madrid (10) and Barcelona (5) have won the European Cup 15 times, which is more than any country other than Spain has won it.


  1. I nearly--and I mean very, very nearly--purchased a $5 baseball season preview tabloid. I forget what it's called. Baseball Weekend. Or USA Baseball Weekly. Or something like that. Anyway, it was $4.95, and it's published by Gannett. But then I saw that The Courier-Journal, also owned by Gannett, was teasing on its front page about how Kansas was in the round of 16 with no one-and-done players.

    So, you know, to heck with them. I put back Gannett's baseball magazine and left with my $5.