Lots of soccer is posted OT here, and there are a few soccer fans that make some noise. Less than a week away from the BIG ONE, so time to get some chatter going -- and maybe rope in attention from some non-fans.
NEXT MONDAY, APRIL 30. MANCHESTER UNITED AT MANCHESTER CITY. THE "MANCHESTER DERBY." TOP 2 TEAMS IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE, SEPARATED BY 3 POINTS, AND 3 GAMES TO GO. WINNER CONTROLS ITS DESTINY.
WHO YOU GOT?
This has the making of being the highest-rated regular-season soccer game in world history. Manchester United ("Red Devils") have a so-so team by their standards, but are seeking their 20th championship. Manchester City ("Sky Blues") have a huge budget and star players, and they jumped out of the gate this season -- only to stall and fall behind Man U (they couldn't buy a road win for a while -- plus two of their top players are total headcases). But the last two weeks, Man U choked big time. Lost to relegation-threatened Wigan. Then, last week, they had a two-goal lead with 10 minutes at home against Everton -- AND BLEW IT -- gave up two goals, game tied 4-4. (Everton's goalie is US international Tim Howard, he had a huge save in extra time to preserve the tie.) So now Man U sits up only 3 points in the standings, with 3 pts for a win and 1 pt for a tie -- meaning, if they lose Monday to Man City, the teams will be TIED with 2 games to go.
Their games are always highly emotional, sort of Cubs v White Sox or Yankees v Mets, but this game will be HUGE. If Man U wins, they only need 1 tie in their last 2 games to win the championship. If Man City wins (and they beat Man U 6-1 earlier this year), they control their destiny -- they'd be tied with Man U, but Man City has the way better goals-differential. Man U would need to beat someone like 10-0 to catch up. If its a tie, Man U controls its fate but is only up 3 points -- a Man U loss plus a Man City win in a later game puts them on even, and Man City has the tiebreaker.
(The race for 3d and 4th is pretty good too. The top 4 get to play in Europe's Champion's League next season, which brings in about another $75M to $100M in revenue. Heavyweight Arsenal is only 2 pts up in 3d place; 4th is nobody Newcastle United. Can Newcastle hang on? Tottanham (with American Brad Friedel in goal) is 3 back (they choked this past weekend) in 5th; and big-name Chelsea is in 6th. But if Chelsea WINS this year's Champions Cup -- they play Barcelona today in the second leg of the semi -- they will get an auto-bid next year, so the Premier league only gets THREE, not four teams. Newcastle could get screwed!)
If you want to see European soccer at its highest level with the maximum passion, check out this game next Monday. PLUS, today and tomorrow conclude the Champions league semi-final fixtures. Chelsea upset world #1 team Barcelona (with Lionel Messi) 1-0 last week; can Chelsea pull the upset in the second game today? They need only tie, or lose by only one goal and score one themselves (e.g., 2-1, etc.). In the other game, Barca's arch rival Real Madrid (led by Ronaldo) is up on German heavyweight Bayern Munich, and needs just a tie to advance. The atmosphere of these games is great.