The Premier League took the week off and the focus shifted to the largest and most prestigious tournaments in Europe. This time of year the schedule gets a bit crowded, especially for top teams who are still active in multiple events, trying to fit in multiple games….and still stay competitive in the Premier League…quite a task. Let’s start with the oldest and most famous English Tournament, The FA Cup. It really is quite amazing.
The FA Cup
This is the grand daddy of English soccer tournaments. It was started in 1870 and has run continuous since then. The winners purse is $2,000,000 pounds. Yes, that’s 20 times larger than the League Cup, also played with teams in English Soccer, but not quite as prestigious as the FA Cup. Some serious cash for the winning team. Entry is available to the top 10 divisions of English football. It is 100’s of teams who can gain entry into the tournament. In theory, the local pub team in England can enter and win. Not likely….but just knowing you could win makes this a really cool event with great history! In 2011, over 700 teams entered the competition. Crazy! Due to the size and scope of the tournament, it starts in August each year and the finals are in May.
Here is what they are playing for…plus that cash we mentioned earlier.
We have now completed the 5th Round of the Fa Cup an here is a quick update on the remaining teams. We are down to the Final 8—Quarter Finals. The next games are March 16/17.
Waford vs. Crystal Palace. Two teams from the Premier League.
Swansea City vs. Manchester City. The favorite and top team from the Premier League against the 13th place team from the Championship Division. It’s kind of Like a #1 Seed playing a #8 Seed in the NCAA March Madness. A pretty big favorite in Man City….so let’s all cheer for Swansea!
Wolverhampton vs. Manchester United. Two teams from the Premier League, and since Man U knocked out Chelsea last weekend, we are all cheering for Wolves. Come on Wolves!
Millwall vs. Brighton. Another Premier League team (#14) verse a Championship Division team (ranked #19 in their league) . This would be like a #4 Seed in March Madness taking on a #10 seed. So we all know their is always an upset in March Madness with a lower seed team winning. Millwall is now my Favorite team left in Fa Cup. This would be a huge upset for a team ranked this low to get to the Semi-Finals, the Final Four. Let’s all cheer for the underdog. It’s what the FA Cup is all about.
League Cup Update
The finals are this weekend and the match up features this years most dominating European team, Manchester City versus struggling Chelsea. Manchester City is still alive in 4 huge competitions: League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League and also for the Premier League Title. A quadruple is still possible. Not sure if anyone has ever done the quadruple? I will research that. Their last match up in the Premier League, Manchester City humiliated Chelsea 6-0. And they play again just a few weeks later. Oh my. Any chance Chelsea can make it a game….any chance they can win….that is a big ask, but at least let’s make it a game Chelsea.
UEFA Champions League Update
Take the Top 32 Teams in Europe and put them together in a round robin format for the first round, home and away for the next round, Quarter Finals, and Semi-Finals and then an amazing Finals. It’s a pretty amazing tournament and features some of the most exciting soccer in the world. The best teams, the best players, the best stadiums…it makes for an amazing event. We are now in the Knock Out Round of 16. The first leg has been completed and here are the results.
Roma (Italy) 2 Porto (Portugal) 1
PSG (France) 2 Manchester United (England) 0
Tottenham (England) 3 Borussia Dortmund (Germany) 0
Real Madrid (Spain) 2 Ajax (Netherlands) 1
Lyon (France) 0 Barcelona (Spain) 0
Liverpool (England) 0 Bayern Munich (Germany) 0
Athletico Madrid (Spain) 2 Juventus (Italy) 0
Manchester City (England) 3 Schalke 04 (Germany) 0
The next games are March 5/6 and 12/13. Still a lot of drama with two games played at 0-0 draws. A few 1 goal games still give teams a chance to comeback and advance. Looks look at one of the crazier games from the last leg. Penalties, Red Cards, Free Kicks and a late goal…oh my. Enjoy.
Europa League Update
For teams not able to qualify for Champions League, we get the “little brother” tournament. Not the best teams, but still some pretty good teams, a few great players, the stadiums are a bit smaller…..but a pretty good tournament too. I am pretty interested this year, as Chelsea are in the Europa League…plus the winner gets a spot in next years Champions League…and that might be Chelsea’s on;y chance to get back to Champions league. Ugh! We are down to the round of 32, so still a ways to go. The Round of 16 is about set. The draw for the next round of games is soon, so more to follow once those games are announced. Still too many teams from too many countries but here are a few you probably recognize:
Spain: Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia
Italy: Napoli, Inter Milan
England: Arsenal, Chelsea
Had to throw in a Chelsea game….it’s been a slow spell for them so had to take a win when I can and show some highlights.
Premier League kicks in again this weekend….so get your popcorn ready!