Welcome to soccer's wildest two months

Yahoo Sports
The Women's World Cup is soccer's premier event in the summer of 2019. But it's very, very far from the only one. (Getty)
The Women's World Cup is soccer's premier event in the summer of 2019. But it's very, very far from the only one. (Getty)

Tuesday, May 7 marks the beginning. Sometime before 8 p.m. local time on Merseyside, amid billowing red smoke and bottomless noise, the greatest soccer player ever will cruise into one of the sport’s most storied cathedrals to get soccer’s most dizzying two months ever underway.

It’s hyperbole within hyperbole until you consider what’s ahead. On Tuesday, the first of two Champions League semifinal second legs, perhaps putting Lionel Messi 90 minutes away from his fifth European crown.

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Then, the gripping final day of the greatest Premier League title race ever, plus the rest of May’s typical end-of-season drama throughout Europe. Shortly thereafter, the nascent UEFA Nations League.

And finally, on Sunday, July 7, arguably the grandest day in international soccer history. A Women’s World Cup final. A Gold Cup final. And a Copa America final – perhaps the GOAT’s final shot at a major tournament title.

[Yahoo Sports’ 2019 Women's World Cup preview hub]

There is so much in between, too. So much soccer of so many different kinds, on different continents, male and female, youth and pro. So much that we decided to take a stab at mapping it out for you.

May 7/8: Champions League semifinal second legs

Liverpool attempts to overturn a 3-0 Barcelona lead at Anfield on Tuesday. Tottenham limps to Amsterdam on Wednesday down 1-0. Mark our words: One of the two will get crazy. Both kick off at 3 p.m. ET on TNT and Univision.

May 9: Europa League semifinal second legs

A day later, it’s Chelsea-Frankfurt (1-1) and Valencia-Arsenal (1-3) in the Europa League semifinal deciders. Chelsea-Frankfurt is on Univision Deportes. Both are on B/R Live, and kick off at 3 p.m. ET.

May 12: Premier League final day

Ten simultaneous kickoffs at 10 a.m. ET, all on TV across NBC-affiliated networks. Liverpool hosts pesky Wolves needing a win to maintain hope of a first Premier League title. Manchester City can squash it and claim a second consecutive EPL crown by beating Brighton.

(Unfortunately, the relegation battle and top-four fight are already settled. Thanks for nothing, Arsenal and Manchester United.)

May 12/16/26: USWNT friendlies

Meanwhile, Women’s World Cup preparations are underway. The U.S. begins its three-match send-off series on May 12 against South Africa (4:30 ET, Fox). It then plays New Zealand on May 16 (8 ET, ESPN2) and Mexico on May 26 (Noon ET, ESPN) before heading off to France.

May 15: Dutch Eredivisie final day

Ajax has one foot in the Champions League final. But it also has to close its league season with two wins to lock up a domestic title. It’s level with PSV Eindhoven on 80 points heading into Matchdays 33 and 34. The simultaneous finales are Wednesday, May 15 at 1:30 ET (ESPN+).

There are also under-the-radar title races in Portugal and Turkey. But our dedication to the Leander Schaerlaeckens brand obligated us to give the Dutch top billing.

May 15/18/25: Cup finals

The four major European domestic cup finals will be played over an 11-day stretch, beginning May 15 with Atalanta-Lazio in Italy (2:45 ET, ESPN2). That Saturday, May 18, Man City goes for a possible domestic double against Watford in the FA Cup (Noon ET, ESPN+). The following Saturday, May 25, Bayern Munich is in a similar situation, facing Leipzig for the DFB Pokal, while Barcelona will likely be going for Part 2 of a potential treble against Valencia in the Copa Del Rey.

May 18: Bundesliga final day

As of this writing, Borussia Dortmund is still alive. Barely. But Bayern Munich can render the final day irrelevant with a win at Leipzig (or another Dortmund slip-up) on Saturday, May 11 (Fox networks).

May 18: UEFA Women’s Champions League final

Ideal viewing prep for the Women’s World Cup: Lyon goes for an unprecedented four-peat against up-and-coming Barcelona (Noon ET, YouTube).

May 23-June 15: Men’s U-20 World Cup

This one might not be on your radar. But if you want a chance to see some promising American youngsters – possibly including Josh Sargent and Tim Weah – in action, the U.S. under-20s play May 24 (vs. Ukraine, 2:30 ET), May 27 (vs. Nigeria, 2:30 ET) and May 30 (vs. Qatar, 2:30 ET). Their first knockout-round game would likely be June 3 or 4, with a potential quarterfinal June 7 or 8, and so on.

Fox and Telemundo have the American broadcast rights. All the U.S. games will be on FS1 and Universo.

May 27: Promotion playoff final

It’s Aston Villa vs. West Brom and Leeds vs. Derby in the two-leg semifinals from May 11-15. The winners go to Wembley for the biggest financial prize in world football on Monday, May 27 (10 a.m. ET, ESPN+).

May 29: Europa League final

It could very well be a London derby played in ... Azerbaijan. And Arsenal will have to win it to avoid a third straight season sans Champions League. Kickoff is 3 p.m. ET (11 p.m. local time!) on TNT.

June 1: Champions League final

Remember when Cristiano Ronaldo’s (only, and flawed) claim to the GOAT throne was his Champions League supremacy? Messi could have a chance to equal him with a fifth winners medal. That’s one of many potential storylines leading into the European club season’s finale. An Ajax-Barca meeting – given all the connections between the two clubs, from Johan Cruyff to Frenkie de Jong – certainly wouldn’t lack them.

Regardless of matchup, this is an annual must-watch (3 p.m. ET, TNT/Univision).

June 5-9: UEFA Nations League finals

From European club soccer’s banner event, we flow right into the first incarnation of one of international soccer’s burgeoning events.

Remember back in the fall when we, the soccer-loving collective, realized that the UEFA Nations League was actually quite fun? Its inaugural circuit culminates in Portugal with two one-off semifinals and a final. The hosts play Switzerland on June 5 (2:45 ET, ESPN+). England and the Netherlands, both oozing young talent, follow at the same time on June 6. The winners play for the competition’s first title on June 9 (2:45 ET, ESPN+).

It won’t be a Euros-esque spectacle. But it’s a perfect appetizer for the summer’s main event.

June 7-July 7: Women’s World Cup

The second month will belong, primarily, to the women’s game. France and South Korea get us started on June 7 (3 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1). The U.S. schedule is as follows:

  • June 11: U.S. vs. Thailand, 3 p.m. ET, Fox

  • June 16: U.S. vs. Chile, Noon ET, Fox

  • June 20: U.S. vs. Sweden, 3 p.m. ET, Fox

Other notable group games include England-Scotland (June 9, Noon ET, Fox), Germany Spain (June 12, Noon ET, Fox), France-Norway (June 12, 3 p.m. ET, Fox), Australia-Brazil (June 12, Noon ET, Fox), Japan-England (June 19, 3 p.m. ET, FS1) and Netherlands-Canada (June 20, Noon ET, Fox).

If the U.S. wins its foursome, its Round of 16 match would be June 24 at Noon ET on FS1. Its quarterfinal could very well be June 28 in Paris against France (3 p.m. ET, Fox). Its semifinal would be July 2 (3 p.m. ET, Fox). The final – the first of three major international finals that day – is July 7 (11 a.m. ET, Fox).

June 14-July 7: Copa America

Meanwhile, Brazil hosts the 46th Copa America. The group stage runs June 14-24, with the hosts kicking things off, and Argentina-Colombia on the second day (5 p.m. ET, ESPN+/Telemundo). Game times range from mid-afternoon to mid-evening ET. The knockout stages begin June 27 with quarterfinals. The final is July 7 at 3 p.m. ET.

ESPN has the English-language rights, and will put all games on its subscription streaming service, ESPN+. Telemundo has the Spanish-language rights.

June 15-July 7: Gold Cup

The U.S. men have not won a Gold Cup featuring Mexico’s A-team since 2007. Gregg Berhalter has not overseen a competitive international game. Nor have Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams played in one. Thus, there’s a decent amount of intrigue surrounding CONCACAF’s biennial regional championship. It’s also Mexico’s first competition under Tata Martino.

The most anticipated group game will be the first meeting between the USMNT and Trinidad since that infamous night in Couva. Here’s the Americans’ schedule:

  • June 18: U.S. vs. Guyana, 10 p.m. ET

  • June 22: U.S. vs. Trinidad and Tobago, 8 p.m. ET

  • June 26: U.S. vs. Panama, 9 p.m. ET

The U.S. quarterfinal would be June 30, its semifinal July 3, and the final July 7 at 9 p.m. ET. All games are on Fox Sports 1 and Univision Deportes.

While it’s absolutely ridiculous that soccer officials didn’t give the Women’s World Cup final a day to itself, the result of the madness is a delightful two months capped off in style by a three-final Sunday. With the Nations League bridging the gap between club season and international tournaments, there’s never been a period like it in the sport’s history.

So welcome. Claim a spot on the couch. Find a cozy sorts bar. Bookmark this page or another aggregate schedule. And prepare to indulge.

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Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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