Thursday, May 25, 2017

Relegation and Champions League: Overseas Roundup

Back a few years ago when the Rapids had less to discuss on a daily or weekly basis I used to have a weekend roundup of the various overseas teams I follow.  With the fall-to-spring seasons ending I thought I'd at least do a season recap of the teams.

Blackburn Rovers (English Championship) - Rovers made the stunning choice of hiring Owen Coyle away from the Houston Dynamo before the season started and he immediately managed them into a relegation fight.  In mid-February after 33 games Blackburn realized its mistake and replaced Coyle with Tony Mowbray.  He led them to the best win percentage of any permanent manager since the Mark Hughes days but it wasn't enough as Rovers were relegated to League One based on a 2 worse goal differential than Nottingham Forest.  This coming season will be the first time Blackburn has been in the 3rd division since the 1979-80 season and only 6th season ever at that level (the other 5 were all in the 1970s).

Queen of the South (Scottish Championship) - The Doonhamers have "found their level" in Scotland, settling in as a mid-table Championship club that occasionally makes a run at the promotion playoffs.  We saw that again this year as a stable "drama-free" season led them to 6th place in the Championship, 9 points off the playoff pace.  The club probably hoped to be a little close to 4th place than they were but with Hibs (Hibernian) going up and Thistle (Inverness Caleadonian) coming down the league should be a bit easier next season.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (German Bundesliga) - Hoffenheim had probably the most successful season in their history.  They finished 4th in the Bundesliga, their highest ever finish, and were undefeated at home.  The 4th placed finish got them a spot in next year's Champions League qualifier playoff stage.  The winners at that stage go into the Champions League group stage, the losers go to the Europa League group stage.  They'll know their draw on August 4th with the two-legged playoff series played in mid-August.

Melbourne Victory (Australian A-League) - The Victory finished 2nd in the league this season while hated rivals Sydney FC ran away with the regular season, finishing 17 points ahead of the Victory running in first place wire-to-wire.  Both teams took advantage of their playoff byes to move easily into the final, where Sydney beat the Victory on penalty kicks.  The Victory will play in next year's AFC Champions League after their 2nd placed finish.

CD Tenerife (Spanish Segunda) - I saved Tenerife for last because their season isn't done yet.  Spain takes a longer winter break than most leagues so CDT still has 3 games left and is currently in 4th place in the division, which puts them in a promotion playoff spot.  Levante has already won the league and Girona could clinch the 2nd automatic promotion spot this weekend with the right results.  Tenerife is 4 points behind 3rd and 4 points ahead of 7th (the first non-playoff spot) so really they are looking at holding down 4th unless 3rd placed Getafe trips up.  Then there's a shot at promotion which would mean going through probably Cadiz and likely Getafe.

On my trip to England in March we spent a wonderful day in Chester where I was able to pick up a Chester FC scarf.  So I've been keeping an eye on them as well.  After a good start to the season the team went into free fall and finished just 2 points from the relegation spots in the English National League, the 5th rung of the ladder.

Here's the collection of scarves I had in England after my trips to Chester and Blackburn:

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