Barstool’s Champions League Preview – The “Six Becomes Four” Edition
Sam’s Soccer Safe Space For Stoolies
Where do we even begin peeling back the Real Madrid/Bayern Munich onion? I’m not even sure so I’ll make a snap-judgment and go with an award-winningly stupid headline:
Gee, Ry-Guy, I do not know. As the soccer expert, aren’t you supposed to be the one making those tough judgment calls?
In his defense, our guy Ryan up there works for FOX, and FOX owns the rights to Champions League, so I’m sure there would be some sort of mid-level manager/editor who would fix the part in his hair, push his glasses up on his nose and throw a passive-aggressive hissy fit about one of FOX’s own writers besmirching the Champions League “brand” by framing that headline as a statement instead of a question.
Here’s the thing though – and this is coming from someone who rarely tries hard at anything but ALWAYS gives max effort when it comes to not blaming the zebras for outcomes of games – the Hungarian referee absolutely completely thoroughly indisputably ruined what was shaping up to be an all-time amazing game yesterday.
The list of fuck-ups (by him and his sidekicks it should be noted) is so long I’m going to forget or leave some off because we’ve got other stuff to do today, but they include:
- Casemiro not getting a second yellow card. Or a third. Or a fourth.
- Vidal’s laughable second yellow (eg red) card
- Lewandowski wrongly flagged offside when he was in 1-on-1 on goal
- Both of these Ronny goals somehow being allowed to stand
To be clear, I am NOT a Bayern Munich fan (or hater). Nor am I a Real Madrid fan (or hater). I kinda despise both clubs way down deep just because of how incredibly successful they have been for so long, but I also love watching them play and respect how incredible they both are. But I got no dog in this fight. In fact, the referee’s decision to send off Vidal didn’t even ruin my bet on Bayern to win (in regulation), so I really really had no bias. But the end of that game with Real benefiting from two offside goals in extra time against a game but exhausted Bayern team was hard to watch. It may even be the game that forces UEFA to get a little more proactive about implementing reviews on things like goals, offside and red cards, which is something I am a bit conflicted on but had they been in place yesterday we could have been treated to one of the greatest finishes in Champions League history.
But such is life in the world of soccer.
On the plus side, more magic to come this afternoon. But first some babymaking music……..
Scores and remaining games from the quarterfinals:
The Real/Bayern ridiculousness overshadowed the fact that yesterday also witnessed the death of one of the most unexpected 20-month runs of any soccer team in history. You are gone but not forgotten, UCLeicester – unless you get relegated next season in which case you will in fact be gone (but still not forgotten).
Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. PSG wiped the floor with Barça in the first leg last round, then forgot to pack their testicles before flying to Spain and played like scared little itches – and still easily could have squeaked through if not for some highly questionable penalty calls/non-calls.
[Note: I’ve gotten a lottttttttttttt of tweets from people alleging that the referees are trying to give the games to Spanish clubs. No chance. There have been bad calls flying around every which way. Yes, Real and Barça have been some of the highest profile beneficiaries this season but that’s just how the shitty-zebra cookie crumbles sometimes. But back to that thing about the weak-willed Parisians…]
In that Round of 16 second leg, PSG’s coach put out a scared lineup and the players predictably followed suit, eventually coughing up the 4-0 lead that they had when they arrived at the Camp Nou.
But to borrow a metaphor from the acclaimed structural engineering scholar Pete Carroll, PSG is a skyscraper built with wooden beams and Juventus is a skyscraper made out of steel beams. Barcelona’s MSN are gonna bring some hot, hot jet fuel heat. They had no problem burning the hell out of PSG. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, steel beams are impervious to even jet fuel heat.
Which is my way roundabout way of getting to the fact that Barcelona are an incredible team, but they are also a flawed team. Their strength is obviously going forward, but Juventus has one of the few defenses in the world with the potential to, if not stop, then at least contain them. On the flipside, Barcelona’s soft underbelly has been exposed on multiple occasions by teams with less firepower than Juventus, so expecting the Blaugrana to shut the visitors out strikes me as unlikely. The return of Sergio Busquets is a boost, but even if Luis Enrique finds a formation that gets guys like Javier Mascherano (a lifelong soldier whose aging legs were exposed last week) and especially Jeremy Mathieu (only on the roster to fulfill UEFA’s ginger quota yet somehow in the XI for a Champions League quarterfinal – wild stuff), the team just has too many holes. Juventus is too solid to fold like a traditional French army.
Juventus to win 2-1.
Goals. Goals, goals, goals. Do you like goals? Well then let me introduce you to my friends Monaco and Dortmund. They are going to treat you right.
Anyway I’ve made no secret about my undying love for The Babyjesus Pulisic, and want nothing more than to see him playing in a Champions League semi-final. But if you think I’m kinda scared about BVB in this one… you’d be absolutely correct. Winning by two goals is not at all out of the realm of possibility in a game that could finish with both teams in double-digits. Or they should win 4-3 (also very plausible) or 3-2 and win in penalties. All of these outcomes is on the table. But they are going to need to tighten up at the back BIG TIME, and I’m just not convinced they have that in them in a game in which the onus is on them to push guys forward to score and against an opponent with legitimate attacking threats (and Falcao).
BVB is expected to get Marco Reus back from injury. For Monaco, big bad defensive midfielder Tiemoué Bakayoko is returning from suspension and will be a force in the middle of the field but the French side will be without Fabinho, whose flexibility in defense and midfield has him on a number of EPL radar screens but will be on the bench today through suspension.
The wild card in this one is Dortmund’s “emotional state”. A lot of people said that UEFA should not have made BVB play last week after the attack on their bus, and that this had some sort of impact on their play. I don’t buy it. Once an athlete gets on the field everything else melts away. So people betting on this as some sort of bounce back performance now that they are more “mentally prepared” – but I’m not buying it.
Thus, with a very heavy heart, I’ll say Monaco to win 3-2.
More big games tomorrow……… just kidding, its only Europa. No way Jozay’s United – fresh off their most impressive performance of the season – would suck a fat one at home against a (comparatively) wee Belgian club, right? No way, definitely no way. No way that could possibly happen. No way..