I was on the fence about posting a Europa League blog because (a) it’s the Europa League and (b) it’s the Europa League. However, after much contemplation I’ve decided it would be unjust for me not to do a post since it would basically be like taking money out of the pockets of you, dear loyal reader.
“Sam, shut up. You suck.”
Fair enough, in most genres of life I do indeed suck. Ask all my zero friends. However, gambling is a results-oriented endeavor and even the haters can’t argue with this week’s results:
And as a wise man once said about stocks and my soccer predictions: past performance is the single best indicator of future success… so let’s get to gettin’.
There are 32 clubs left in the competition at this point, 16 of which will be heading home to momma after today. Last week’s results of the first half of the home-and-homes shook out like this:
And here is today’s schedule, complete with a handy dandy little guide to which games will be shown where:
PICKS OF THE MIDWEEK
As a quick reminder, if you are a fan of a club in the EPL then this week’s games are fairly important because Serie A’s UEFA coefficient is threatening to overtake that of the English league, which would hand the Italians the fourth automatic Champions League slot, thereby relegating EPL to only three clubs in the world’s most prestigious competition. Point being, you should at least consider swallowing your deeply held animosities and perhaps rooting for clubs like Liverpool and United. I know, it sucks, but life is about sacrifices sometimes. Just as your boy Jesus.
English clubs sort of sucked a fat one last week, “earnings” two draws and a loss. However, those games were on the road, so all three have a solid chance to turn the table. It’d be hard to imagine all three managing to skate through this round, but then again weirder things have happened.
Now let’s get started with the Noon CT games before heading into the later kickoffs.
Yikes. Bookmakers are not a fan of the Austrian minnows. There is one reason and one reason only that I can think of for why Liverpool might find a way to lose this game: the distraction of the ass-whupping at the hands of City in the League Cup final coming up this Sunday. In fact, there’s a good chance Klopp may even sit a couple guys who might otherwise be out there – Daniel Sturridge in particular – which is a slight cause for concern. In the end though, wee Augsburg will be overwhelmed by the moment and the Reds will have enough firepower with Firmino and Coutinho to see them off. Liverpool to win 2-0.
Note: post got pushed back a little bit due to a late-breaking Cubs trade so if you didn’t see in time for kickoff of the Liverpool game — and thus are not as rich as you might otherwise be — then that’s your fault for not following me on Twitter, dummy.
Is there a comma in the odds for Midtjjjijpjflyjiljtlland? Yes? Okay, then that tells you everything you need to know about how this game should go. I said it this past weekend though and will say it again: is this the game the players unintentionally but intentionally quit on Van Gaal in order to usher in a new manager/Jose Mourinho? Never say never, but probably not. United to win 3-1.
Let me state for the record: I’m not touching this game. Fiorentina has not been great of late and will be without one of their most influential playmakers in Borja Valero. That said, Spurs will be missing The One True God
Is Tottenham the better team even without Sir Harry? Yes, with guys like Alli, Son and a healthy Lamela there is still enough there there (did I just pay Erik Lamela a compliment? What a time to be alive)… but just as they did in the FA Cup game against Palace at the weekend, one can’t help wondering if the chance of a legitimate title run has taken up residence in the minds of both the players and manager to the detriment of their form in other competitions. A draw is not out of the question, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me at all, but sometimes you just gotta be a homer. Tottenham to win 2-1.
[Note: if my beloveds do find a way to lose this may be the last Spursday soccer for a long, long, longggggggg time… or at least 18 months. Yay.]
• Valencia (+200) feels the trap line of the century. They just smoked Rapid Wien (+130) by 6-0 at home last week. This time around they are likely to rest some guys, but I still think they’ll have enough quality to at least stay level. Gimme a 2-2 draw.
• Napoli (-170) has lost the plot a little bit lately, including a disappointing effort against Villarreal (+460) last week. I’m not a huge fan of them this time around but will give them the benefit of the doubt and say they’ll find a little bit of form. Napoli to win 3-1.
So there it is, the best and worst Europa League preview that Barstool will ever post this week – and maybe ever. Got some EPL action and the aforementioned League Cup final coming up this weekend. Get pumped.
Sam U.L. Army