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Barstool’s Champions League Preview – The “Quarterfinals Judgement Day – Part 2 (PLUS random midweek EPL)” Edition

Sam’s Completely Chumptastic Champions League Preview & Pick’Em

1-UCL

Hi haters,

MAN, quite an emotional rollercoaster yesterday. Can’t wait to do it allllll over again today.

Let’s GO.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

In case you were dead yesterday, here’s what happened:

2-schedule

City deserves a huge amount of credit for pulling out a gutsy win, and Laurent Blanc deserves plenty of blame for his decision to pull out the 3-5-2 line-up, which Zlatan said came as a surprise to the players. In truth though, the tactics weren’t as much to blame as (a) players needlessly straying offside on TWO goals that were rightly disallowed, (b) losing Thiago Motta to injury, which totally fudged up PSG’s entire system and (c) just an incredible performance from a number of unsung City players (Mangala as well as Big & Lil Ferdando).

As for Wolfy, they got straight up Ronaldo’d. WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THEY NEEDED YOU, LORD BENDTNER?

3-bendtner

Half of the field for the semifinals is set, but before they can hold the “random” draw on Friday the other two participants need to be determined. So away we go….

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PICKS OF THE DAY

Atletico Madrid (+215)
Barcelona (+130)
Draw (+245)

I have a theory that boils down to the fact that this Barrrrrrrrrrthelona team could potentially be one of the best in… well… ever. Messi, Neymar, Suarez alone make up one of the most formidable attacking juggernauts the soccer gods have ever witnessed. However, the bookies caught wind of their march towards historical greatness at some point during their recent 39-game unbeaten streak, and started making the odds so unpalatable that betting on the Catalans became no fun at all. Recognizing my desire to make money, Messi & Co. responded by maxing out at 80% effort in losses to Real Madrid and Real Thothhhhhhiedad, and the tight 2-1 win at home in the first leg versus Atleti, thus tricking the bookies into thinking they might actually be vulnerable today, resulting in you and me being given the option of betting Barça to win at plus value – PLUS VALUE!

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This is not to besmirch Atleti, who are a helluva team. However, they don’t match up well against Barcelona, who they have not beaten in 13 straight games now. Plus Fernando Torres – who looked like shit for 20 minutes in the first leg then scored a goal out of nowhere, then subsequently acted like a crazed lunatic tackling anything that moved and got himself red-carded – is suspended for the game. This may not normally be a huge loss since Atleti still have guys like Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco, but there is on getting around the fact that Torres has a thing for scoring against Barça.

So how will things turn out?

Barça will likely control possession. The club has been doing a lot of that even during their recent run of less than sterling results. That said, Griezmann will inevitably get a couple opportunities on the break. If you take Atleti in this you have to hope he buries (or assists on) one or two of those half-chances and the home side simply buckles down and holds the fort – which, to be fair, is not all that far-fetched given how light’s out the Madrid club has been defensively all season.

Shot in the dark prognostication: Messi comes out extra motivated by Ronaldo’s recent showing against Wolfy and slots one home at some point in the first half hour. Atleti responds by pushing forward aggressively and eventually finds an equalizer. However, needing another one, they keep pushing and leave themselves exposed at the back, ultimately conceding a second to Suarez on a counterattack.

Barça to win 2-1.

Note: they got this guy too. He’s pretty good.

Note: they got this guy too. He’s also good.

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Benfica (+600)
Bayern Munich (-200)
Draw (+350)

Oddsmakers are basically DARING you to take Benfica in this. Playing at home against a club to which they lost 0-1 in a close one on the road… it could happen, right? Actually, yes, it probably could because Bayern at the moment is not nearly the unstoppable force they have been at times in the recent past. In fact, something like a 1-1 draw would not surprise me at all in this one. In the end though Benfica is missing some big players through injury and suspension (including lead scorer Jonas), and Mueller and Lewandowski – who the Portuguese club did a commendable job of stopping last time out – cannot be contained like that twice in a row. Also, it is important to note that while the one-goal scoreline was close last time out, the game itself was not and Bayern should be embarrassed about not having put another couple of goals away.

I’ve mentioned before that nobody ever got rich underestimating Portuguese opposition – unless it’s the World Cup, heyooooooooooo – but I can’t help thinking this will end up being a very meat & potatoes 2-1 win for Bayern. [Note: after all, if you think the soccer gods aren’t planning for Pep to face off against his future employer at some point in this competition then you just don’t understand how the soccer gods work.]

5-pep

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

“Wait, wtf, why are there regular season EPL games being played at the same time as Champions League?”

It’s that time of year again, boys and girl (maybe), where schedules have become so packed that clubs gotta get games in where they fit in, and today is one of those scenarios as Everton and Crystal Palace need to make up for a game that was previously postponed for FA Cup-related reasons.

EPLtable

But wait, there’s more! Indeed, West Ham and United also face off today in an FA Cup replay for the fourth and final slot in the semi-finals.

We are all too busy for a full preview with all the bells and whistles, so here’s some quick and dirty predictions to satiate your desire to either (a) make money or (b) give me shit if/when I’m wrong…

• Both clubs have disappointed BADLY this season and have one thing and one thing only left to play for: winning the FA Cup. That makes this game a bit of an oddity since they could eventually face off in the FA Cup final, but for now are just sort of biding their time trying to avoid injuries (and/or getting fired if you are Roberto Martinez). Palace (+175) fiiiiiinally got a win last time out but not in the type of fashion I would have expected against defensively challenged Norwich. I’m therefore giving the edge to Everton (+165) in this one because on paper they should be the better side. Draw is a definitely option but I’ll say 2-1 win for Everton.

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• West Ham (+160) get United (+175) at an ideal time as the visitors are probably still walking a little bowlegged after getting their ASSSSSSSS handed to them at Tottenham last weekend. Would not surprise me if the clubs play to a draw in regulation time – let’s call it a 1-1 scoreline – with United eventually advancing on PKs because David De Gea.

Vait, vee vut? Vee vun??

Vait, vee vut? Vee vun??

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Friendly reminder: return leg of Liverpool/Dortmund in the NIT tomorrow. Get pumped, or don’t – up to you really.

Psssst, still:
7-still


Holler,
Sam U.L. Army