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It’s official. March Madness has become a global phenomenon. This weekend in England a team you, and many others, have probably not heard of punched its ticket for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. That team is Barnsley. Oh and Cardiff is going too. And West Brom as well. Portsmouth rounds out the foursome and is the only team remaining that plays in the Premier League. The other three sides are all in the Championship, the league directly under the EPL.
Let me relate this to March Madness in America. Barnsley is a 16 seed and the two teams they have toppled are 1 seeds. You may have heard of them: Liverpool and Chelsea. Barnsley walked into Anfield on February 16 and sent Steven Gerrard and the boys home alone 2-1. Then last weekend, star-studded Chelsea, controversy and all, came into not so famous Oakwell in Yorkshire, England and left 0 for 2 in competitions this year after a 1-0 loss. Barnsley’s new star striker, Kayode Odejayi, scored the goal to send his team into the semi-finals for the first time since 1912, only 96 years ago. At least the Cubs have played in the World Series since then.

Though Cardiff hasn’t beaten the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, they did have to dispatch a Premier League side, Middlesbrough, on the road to the semi-final. Both Barnsley and Cardiff are in the lower half of the Championship, separated by only two points. Barnsley is struggling to stay above the relegation zone, only four points behind them.
West Brom sits fourth in the Championship and is vying for a chance at the promotion playoffs at season’s end. They defeated League One side Bristol Rovers in the quarterfinals 5-1 to coast to the next stage.
Portsmouth won 1-0 against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday to book their ticket to Wembley. They are ninth in the Premier League this season and have been playing decent as of late.
In the semi-finals, Portsmouth will play West Brom and Barnsley will face Cardiff. It is nice for the Championship sides to be able to play at Wembley because it is not likely that they will be presented with this chance again. Little teams beating big teams aren’t a big deal in March in America but it is a big deal when it comes in the FA Cup in England. The big four (Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal) have won the Cup every year since 1995. The FA Cup is like the NCAA Tournament in that little teams play big teams and often lose, but there is always the random upset. This year three of those teams have prevailed. The exposure and impact that these teams are getting is significant and will help them keep afloat financially. It is guaranteed that a Championship side will play for the Cup. Some say this will hurt the interest of the Cup. I disagree. I’m more interested now since Cinderella gets a chance to dance. So who is this year’s George Mason you ask? Well take your pick. Here’s mine:

Portsmouth vs. West Brom

Now that Portsmouth have taken down Manchester United at Old Trafford I don’t think they are scared of anyone. West Brom will put up a fight and play well in the first half because of their adrenaline. But, January signing Jermain Defoe will continue his scoring hot streak (goals in three out of four Portsmouth appearances) and send Pompey onto the final for the first time since 1934.
Final Score: 3-1 Portsmouth

Barnsley vs. Cardiff City

After a 1-1 draw in league play, this match seems to be pretty even. Both teams are low in the Championship and for them every game matters. However, I think Barnsley wears Cinderella’s slipper once again and wins with a stoppage time goal.
Final Score: 2-1 Barnsley

Let us know what you think will happen!


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  1. Great article sir!

  2. I enjoyed the article – well written.

  3. The Barnsley run really has been amazing. What really blows my mind about it is they might actually be relegated from the Championship in the same season they win the FA Cup. There’s a first. Hopefully Cardiff won’t ruin the party.