Liverpool is English champion... and other headlines if COVID hadn't struck

Sport has taken a beating due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Most tournaments have either been cancelled or postponed, including the Tokyo Olympics.

Liverpool could have won the English first-division title for the first time in 30 years if the Premier League had continued for two more weeks before the shutdown.

Liverpool could have won the English first-division title for the first time in 30 years if the Premier League had continued for two more weeks before the shutdown.   -  Getty Images

The sporting world has taken a beating due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Most tournaments have either been cancelled or postponed, including the high-profile Tokyo Olympics.

What if the situation had not worsened? Here's a list of what could have happened in an ideal world packed with sports.

Premier League: Liverpool could have ended the drought

Liverpool could have won the English first-division title for the first time in 30 years if the Premier League had continued for two more weeks before the shutdown. The Reds were just a couple of wins away from taking an unassailable lead over second-placed Manchester City.

READ | How Liverpool conquered the FIFA Club World Cup

A win over Everton [on March 16] and Crystal Palace the following week would have sealed the deal for Jurgen Klopp's side. The team could have also gone on to break the record points tally (100) in Premier League history, currently held by Pep Guardiola's City.

The league may or may not continue hereafter. However, the English FA might hand Liverpool the trophy like how its Belgian counterpart crowned Club Brugge as the champion based on standings.

Tennis: The clay court swing would have begun

If gone as planned, the Indian Wells and Miami Masters would have been over by March 30. After a week's gap, the clay-court swing could have commenced with two ATP 250 tournaments in Houston and Marrakesh. The Monte Carlo Masters was next.

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Rafael Nadal would have been raring to defend his French Open title, while Novak Djokovic might have given him a tough time on the way. Roger Federer, on the other hand, could have stepped up in his pursuit to recover in time for the grasscourt season. Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and others would have continued their attempts to break the domination of the Big-Three.  

The French Open has been postponed and the Wimbledon stands cancelled this year. The ATP and WTA have mutually decided to suspend all forms of tennis till June 7.

IPL: First week of season 13 would have ended

On March 29, defending champion Mumbai Indians would have met Chennai Super Kings in the tournament opener. By April 5 (Sunday), all eight teams would have played at least two games each.

Ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia in October, the IPL would have been a great platform for players to showcase their T20 acumen. Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni's chances to make it to the Indian squad for the World T20 depended on his performances in the cash-rich league.

But the tournament has been postponed indefinitely and a decision is awaited on April 15, after the 21-day lockdown period is over.

Badminton: Last month of Olympic qualification

April would have marked the home run for Olympic qualification. There was a flurry of tournaments lined up. After the Thailand Masters in January, there was a brief gap of three weeks in the BWF calendar.

The Spain Masters, German Open, Swiss Open, India Open and Malaysia Open would have followed till April 5.

However, all events after All England have either been postponed or cancelled. The BWF was one of the last world sports bodies to suspend tournaments. After receiving a lot of criticism from players, it finally froze the rankings. A new qualification deadline for badminton is yet to be announced.

NBA: The playoffs race would have heated up

The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics from the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers from the Western Conference have already made the 2020 NBA Playoffs. The Lakers made the stage for the first time in seven years, thanks to Lebron James and Anthony Davis.

The playoffs were supposed to begin on April 18. The likes of Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Miami Heat etc. were all in contention and we were heading towards a close finish. The struggle of two of the most dominant teams in recent times — Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers — could have either continued or ended.

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On March 11, the game between Utah and Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Jazz centre Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. The season has been suspended indefinitely as USA happens to be the new epicentre.

Champions League: Quarterfinal was round the corner

Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Atalanta had already made their way into the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League last-eight stage. Manchester City should have played Real Madrid at home in the second leg holding a 2-1 lead, while Bayern Munich was supposed to host Chelsea with a 3-0 advantage.

Juventus should have welcomed Lyon after a 0-1 loss away, while Napoli had to take a 1-1 scoreline to Barcelona for the reverse fixture. The quarterfinals and semifinals draw would have gone ahead on March 20. The first leg quarterfinals fixtures were supposed to happen on April 7 and 8, with the return legs taking place the following week.

At present, UEFA is unsure when the action will resume. Even if the European leagues commence, there is no clarity as to whether there will be home and away fixtures as a single country could host the remaining games.

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