The football is coming thick and fast. And I can’t get enough of it.
European football has come to its business end and the stakes are high.
In fact, for me, it’s higher than ever now that we’ve reached the new finals format.
With the coronavirus causing havoc with the calendar, we are now five months behind with the schedule.
And Uefa, in their wisdom, decided to stage the quarterfinals of the Europa and Champions Leagues World Cup-style.
What is being served up, is the best drama I’ve seen on a football pitch since Russia 2018.
With the games now proper one-off knockout football, I can’t take my eyes off it.
Maybe they packed the Europa League quarterfinals in too tight by playing the four in just two time slots, but it still works.
Wolves can say they were geboef after they were denied a penalty retake.
Raul Jimenez saw the first spotkick of his Wolves career saved, but not before Sevilla goalkeeper Bono moved off his line prematurely.
That warrants another kick. But the referee and VAR never even bothered to check.
Now, with the stakes mos moerse high and ties only one-legged there is no room for error, especially not from refs.
They really should have made sure that everything about the kick was right. Had the ball gone in, you would’ve bet your last penny that they would have done the checks.
At a penalty, it’s not just the kicker getting the gimme of a shot at goal from 12 yards.
There is the goalkeeper trying to save it. And he is not allowed to come off his line or move prematurely.
That’s what happened and it cost Wolves in their 59th match of the season.
What a way to see your ultra marathon of a season ended - by a ref trying to keep things short and save some time.
It means Wolves’ slayers, Sevilla, take on Manchester United in Sunday’s first semifinal, before Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk battle for a spot in the final on Monday night.
United looked jittery against Copenhagen and a little bit of extra quality in front of goal would have seen the Danes knock out the 2017 winners.
But Lady Luck hasn’t turned her back on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer yet.
His players were frustrated by the goalkeeper and the woodwork as they fired off some 30 shots in the match.
But in the end it was Bruno Fernandes who got the winner from the spot.
If you think about it, it was kind of predictable given that it was the 21st penalty kick awarded to the Red Devils over the season.
Daai is ‘n klomp.
And every United fan will be crossing fingers, legs and alles else so that lucky streak doesn’t end in the semis.
It’s not been great for Solskjaer in KOs - this is their third this season and they have lost each one.
Let’s see if David de Gea plays on Sunday or if they DROP him. He better not CATCH an illness they’ll need to HANDLE with kid GLOVES.
Meanwhile, Inter-Shakhtar is super unpredictable.
Inter have Romelu Lukaku looking to score in his 10th straight Europa game, but Antonio Conte’s team have been blowing hot and cold since the restart.
Still, it would be nice to see a final where Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young all get a chance to stick it to former boss Solskjaer.
To the Champions League now, where tonight’s meeting between Barcelona and Bayern Munich is the only match featuring former champions in the quarterfinal round.
Only one will make the final four.
And that means there is a 75 percent chance that the Champions League will be won by a new club this time around.
There is no point predicting the rest of the final four, but I will express my sympathy for Atalanta.
What a plucky team and what a heartbreaking exit.
Paris St Germain finally clicked in the final minutes of their Wednesday clash to turn the game on its head and win 2-1.
Get this, I saw a stat in the build-up to the match that Atalanta’s squad took less than £200m to build. That means PSG ace Neymar cost more than Gian Piero Gasperini’s heroes.
For a team hailing from Bergamo - the hardest-hit town in Italy during the height of their coronavirus pandemic - I’m sure that they brought some pride, hope and cheer to their corner of the world.
It’s a pity they won’t be around when I talk about the final next week.