European Domestic Leagues
As we publish our second installment of Newsy Shorts for 2022, domestic league play in Europe is coming to a close as the UEFA Champions League finals loom. In Germany, Bayern Munich has won the Bundesliga, in Spain, Real Madrid has won La Liga, and in France, Paris Saint-Germain has won Ligue 1. In Italy, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Napoli are all mathematically in contention to win Serie A as are Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League. The finals of the Champions League will feature a rematch between Real Madrid and Liverpool. And finally, with 2-3 games left in most European leagues Bayern Munich’s Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski, at 34 goals for the season, is seven goals ahead of his closest rival for the continent’s top scorer.
Western Hemisphere Leagues
In South America, where the domestic league ended months ago, River Plate won the Argentine domestic league title and Atletico Mineiro won the Brazilian domestic league title. Likewise in North America, New York City FC won the MLS Cup on penalties over the Portland Timbers. And in a banner year for US Soccer, the USMNT qualified for Qatar’s World Cup 2022 and the Seattle Sounders won the CONCACAF Champions League defeating Mexico’s Pumas 3-0 after a 2-2 draw in Mexico City left the cup up for grabs at Lumen Field.
Euro 2020 champions Italy will play Copa America Champions Argentina in a revived intercontinental match on June 1, 2022, to be played at Wembley Stadium. The match should prove entertaining and somewhat informative as the Argentines will be playing a topflight team and the Italians, who were again eliminated from World Cup contention, will be looking to show that news of their demise is only temporarily warranted.
Premiership and VAR
See this excellent and lengthy discussion on VAR in the Premiership.
The winter World Cup in Qatar
The World Cup is nearly ready for prime time at its unfortunate location, though truth be told Papa is routing for the Qatar tournament to succeed for the sake of the fans, sport, players, and all of us peripheral participants.
The eight groups (soon to be twelve groups in 2026) are: Group A—Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, and Netherlands; Group B—England, Iran, USA, and the final UEFA playoff winner, from the match between Wales and the winner of the match between Ukraine -vs-Scotland; Group C—Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland; Group D—France, Denmark, Tunisia and the AFC (UAE-vs-Australia)-CONMEBOL (Peru) inter-confederation winner; Group E—Spain, Germany, Japan, and the winner of the CONCACAF (Costa Rica) OFC (New Zealand) inter-confederation playoff winner; Group F—Belgium, Canada, Morocco, and Croatia; Group G—Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, and Cameroon; and Group H—Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, and South Korea.
The bottom line is that with the exception of Italy, Sweden, Chile, Nigeria, and Egypt, 27 of the top 32 nations in the current FIFA Rankings are going to be in Qatar. Furthermore, given the group pairings the draw set up there are two, clear, strong favorites for progression from each group, potentially setting the stage for one of the most competitive menus of Round of 16 matches in recent World Cup memory.
Once again Papa thanks his subscribers for their kind words of support and their patience as he navigated the personal losses of the past several months and missed covering a good part of the season. The pain of loss persists, but the memories are a soothing balm. Now the spirit must will out and live on…and I am finally back at the keyboard. For all of you who subscribed for the current year, Papa hereby extends your subscription an additional year.