Rivalries in football seem to be losing their touch. Derbies in England and Clasicos in Spain were initially marquee events, where entire cities would be rallied together to see which part of the town would claim the bragging rights.
However, in the more recent seasons that electricity seems to have died out and the excitement appears to be only present in the promos to these games.
Nevertheless, good reason still exists for supporters to cheer, often for opposite teams.
When Manchester United drew against Huddersfield on Sunday, they kissed goodbye to their Champions League hopes for next season. As of such, the Red Devils now face a long and undervalued Europa League campaign.
However, the battle isn’t entirely over. United presently sit in the sixth spot and have a game left to play in the League. While it is assured that they won’t drop to the seventh position, the battle between Arsenal and Tottenham will mean that their ascent to the fifth position is unlikely as well.
At the same time, when Manchester City and Watford square-off for the FA Cup title later this month, the fact that the winner will gain a Europa League spot won’t be amiss to United supporters. City winning the game would make a huge difference to their neighbors’ European ambitions.
If the Sky Blues fail and Watford win the Cup, they’ll also gain automatic access to that second Europa League qualification spot. This means that United will have to play qualifiers in July in order to even compete in the group stages of Europe’s second-tier League in the first place.
This is something that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and company are likely to wish to avoid. A Europa League journey is already longer than the Champions League and worth considerably less. They wouldn’t want to stretch that even further. As of such, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some red shirts cheer for Manchester City at the Etihad.