Friday, January 18, 2019

For decades, my friends and I have gone into heated battles over the NFL, the NBA and especially March Madness. We’ve done fantasy football, placed bets on every single element of the Super Bowl (someone even bet that Janet Jackson would have a “wardrobe malfunction” back in 2004) and had intense Bracket Pools (they are still mad about the time I won the Brackets by picking my teams solely on hot players and cute mascots).

But recently I’ve felt out of the loop as my friends have started to shift away from their US based fantasy teams and into the European Football Leagues, especially the Premier League. And I knew virtually nothing about the Premier League. Except that it seems to have given birth to David Beckham. Something that the world is entirely grateful for.

With American Football Season kicking off (pun intended!), it seemed the perfect time to also explore the other football! While soccer has gained increasing popularity in American in the last decades, our Major League Soccer seems to pale in comparison the to other Euro leagues whose stadiums are jammed packed every match and broadcast to millions worldwide.

When I first began my love affair with March Madness in the ’90s, I picked two teams (UMass and Kansas) and bet on them in the the tournament. And Kansas has been my team ever since. I’m using the same strategy to fall in love with soccer. I decided to place two premier league free bets to get me psyched up about some teams. I’m choose one Big Name and because I love a good Cinderella Story, I’m also going to pick an underdog.

The Big Five Leagues Of European Footballpremier league logos

Much like the NCAA basketball power conferences of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 10 and SEC, the football league has 5 elite leagues that everyone talks about. But instead of regional conferences, they are regional countries.

England: English Premier League (EPL), Also known as Premiership or just Premier League

Spain: La Liga

Italy: Serie A

Germany: Bundesliga

France: Ligue 1

To get started I began with the one I knew, the Premier League and next week I’ll challenge myself with learning a bit about Germany.

The Five Facts to know about the Premier League:

  • The Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world. Yes, even more so than the NBA, the MLB and even the NFL. Wikipedia reports that the Premier League is “broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes and a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people”
  • The EPL is made up of 20 clubs with big name teams such as Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United.
  • The current champion is: Chelsea.
  • The Premier League season is from August to May. Each team plays 38 games (playing each team in their league twice; once at home and once away, for a total of 380 matches per season.
  • Rivals: If you love the fierce rivalry of the 80s/90s Lakers-Celtics, the Yankees-Red Sox or the Tobacco Road Battle of the Blues between UNC-Duke, you are going to love the fire of Arsenal-Manchester United or Liverpool-Manchester United.

Placing My Bets:

Like I said, I love a good underdog but I also make sure to put at least Duke or UNC in my Final Four every year in March Madness so I knew one of one of my premier league free bets needed to with one of the three big names: Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United. Combined they have won 21 out of the last 25 titles.

My Team of Choice: I’m going with Manchester United Red Devils– solely because my friend likes Arsenal and we love to compete. He loves Duke Blue Devls, and I always pick UNC to rile him up so it seems fitting to go with the Red Devils this year!

My Cinderella Team: This was a toughie for me since there is a team called Crystal Palace and that sounds, awesome! But I decided that Southampton, who has been in the top division for 41 years and in the premier league for 19 without a title was the way to go!

Because like they say in Angels In The Outfield “Hey, it could happen!”

And Cubs and Red Sox fans can attest to the truth in that!

Next week we’ll be digging into the rest of teams of the Big Five: Germany, Spain, Italy and France.

About the author: Jennifer Taglione is the owner of this fabulous website Stiletto Sports. Despite writing well over 500 posts, she still maintains that she is not a sports writer! She is however a huge fan of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, the Celtics, and totally kicks butt on March Madness brackets! Connect with her by following her on Twitter @StilettoSportsJ and subscribing to her weekly newsletter. For more info check out the About the Editor page!

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