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Barstool’s EURO 2016 Quarterfinals Preview & Betting Guide

Sam’s Soccer Safe Space For Stoolies

1-euro16

Hi haters,

It’s been a little while since last I’ve bothered you so let’s start with a little housekeeping Q&A…

WAS COPA AMERICA A “SUCCESS” FOR USMNT?
Yes. Making the semifinals in a tournament dominated by South American nations is good any way you slice it, and the way in which we really took it to teams like Paraguay and Ecuador (while at full strength) was especially nice to see. There is no shame in losing to Argentina. We needed them to have an off day and even then we would have needed to play flawlessly just to have a shot. Neither happened, which was made all the worst by Klinsmann’s decision to start Beckerman and Wondo, which felt a little lot like waving the white flag before the opening whistle. Even so, the tournament was a success. Especially compared to Mexico.

IS KLINSMANN GOING TO TAKE THE ENGLAND JOB?
No. The USSF have stuck by him when people have called for JK’s head on numerous occasions, so for him to leave now would be a HUGE slap in the face to the federation and especially to Sunil Gulati who has repeatedly said that the 2018 World Cup will be the litmus test. So I don’t think JK will leave before WC18 (unless we inexplicably don’t qualify, in which case he’d be gone at the same time as the final whistle in the last qualifying game), and think all the news stories is just the media trying to get clicks and sell papers. Though I will say that if JK does up and leave I’ll be the first one to sign the petition to revoke his green card and add him to the list of possible terrorists not allowed to set foot back into this great country ever again.

2-no-fly

WILL MESSI PLAY FOR ARGENTINA AGAIN?
Yes. His “retirement” was said in the heat of the moment. He may take some time off but there is no doubt in my mind he’ll play at the 2018 World Cup. End of story.

DID ENGLAND LOSE BECAUSE SPURSY?
Yes and no. Spurs do not win things, it’s just not in our nature, so of course it was not if an England squad dominated by Tottenham players (~50% of the starting lineup) would fail but when an England squad dominated by Tottenham players would fail. As it turns out, said failure came a lot earlier than anyone would have imagined, and that is due in no small measure to the inexplicably poor play by Harry Kane and Dele Alli – who are otherwise infallible and don’t make me fight you. BUT, having said all that, it was two City guys (Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling) who turned out to be the weakest links. So yes, Tottenham was intimately involved with the collapse, but there was plennnnnnty of blame to spread around wide and far.

As for the teams that are still alive…

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UEFA EURO 2016

It has been quite a tourney so far. While overall scoring is down just a little bit, I can’t recall a competition – Euros, World Cups, Copas, etc – with so many late game-changing goals. The thing about international tournaments like this though is that they are most remembered for how the last couple rounds go, so there is sure to be plenty more drama in store.

As a reminder, here were the odds of lifting the trophy before the first ball was kicked:

3-odds

Now that the field has been whittled down to the final eight, here’s how things look heading into the quarterfinals:

4-newodds

Exemplifying why it rarely pays to jump on one of the big favorites early, France and Germany are not far off where they started, whereas Belgium, Italy and Portugal have tightened a bit. Italy’s odds would undoubtedly be a lot lower but for the fact they got drawn against Ze Germans this round, while Portugal’s would be longer if it had not been fortunate enough to be placed on the weaker half of the weaker half of the bracket.

5-bracket

As for the quarterfinals themselves, let’s bang them out one by one…

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THURSDAY (2pm CT on ESPN2)

Poland [+275]
Portugal [+125]
Draw [+190]

All the things I said in the preview still hold true for the two teams, with Poland being the steadier of the two but Portugal having a slightly higher ceiling.

The Pol’s strength has been on defense, where they have given up a grand total of ONE goal in four games. On the flipside, they have lacked creativity in the midfield that has resulted in a lack of service for Robert Lewandowski.

Ronnie has about a billion more shots at goal (though notably not ON goal) than anybody in the tournament. Unfortunately he’s been as accurate as Portnoy’s claims of being 5’10”.

Must be a rich person thing

Must be a rich person thing

If Ronnie gets on track though – look out. Portugal will go as far as he can carry them, and despite the slow start I’ve got a feeling that that will be into at least the next round.

Prediction: Portugal to win 2-1

7-ronnie

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FRIDAY (2pm CT on ESPN2)

Wales [+450]
Belgium [-140]
Draw [+245]

Wales has been one of the better organized teams in the tournament, which has given Gareth Bale the freedom to roam around in attacking positions, and he has done the most with his opportunities. It must be said though that they have benefited from a relatively easy path to the quarterfinals.

Belgium has not been particularly tough in the back but Wales, which only managed to eke out a 1-0 win against listless Northern Ireland on an own goal, is too dependent upon moments of magic from Bale to cause them more than a spot of bother here and there. The Belgians, on the other hand, are looking better with each successive performance, which is the hallmark of a legitimate threat to win this puppy.

Prediction: Belgium to win 3-0

Gone but not forgotten

Gone but not forgotten

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SATURDAY (2pm CT on ESPN2)

Germany [+120]
Italy [+300]
Draw [+200]

Easily the toughest quarterfinal game to predict. Italy has the strongest back four in the competition, and a midfield that makes up for a lack of world class talent with dogged yet coordinated pressure. If this was the first game of the competition (or more like the second – after it had been established how well Antonio Conte could implement his “system”), I’d say the Azzurri have a very good shot at pulling the upset. As it is though they have the oldest starting XI at the Euros and just ran their little Italian sausages off against Spain. Old, tired legs are not what you want when facing Germans who are nothing if not ruthlessly efficient [note: if you immediately thought of a holocaust jokes you are a bad person]. With Mario Gomez up top and guys like Thomas Mueller and Mesut Ozil free to make the smart runs that Spain’s strikers were too dumb or lazy to attempt, I can’t help going with Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft in this one – and to get them at plus-money? Yes, pleeeeeease. (Sorry Gigi.)

Prediction: Germany to win 2-0

Gotta even out all the PG13-rated Ronaldo

Gotta even out all the PG13-rated Ronaldo “nudity”

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SUNDAY (2pm CT on ESPN)

France [-250]
Iceland [+800]
Draw [+360]

The bookmakers have France as youuuuuuuuuuuge favorites coming into this one, though unconvincing wins against Romania, Albania and Ireland with a sleep-inducing 0-0 draw against Switzerland sandwiched in between is hardly a scary track record. In fact, while Iceland has the longest odds of any team in the quarterfinals, the Land of Viking Men and British Medieval Mail-Order Brides would be my pick if I were to plunk down some moneys on an underdog (can’t beat those tasty odds after all). The losses of CB Adil Rami and especially N’Golo Kante due to yellow card accumulation may prove more problematic than one would think, particularly given how shaky Rami has been. The Frogs have so much more talent going forward it is ridiculous, led by guys like Pogba and Payet who may get sold this summer for roughly what it would have cost to buy Iceland – the entire island – in 2008. They have consistently underperformed this tournament but managed to sneak through. It’s going to catch up with them sometime. I think that time comes Sunday.

Prediction: 1-1 draw after regulation; Iceland advances on PKs

Chant: lit; post-chant dancing: not lit

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So there you have it. God bless the soccer gods for the past few weeks. Just hope the next seven games will prove as entertaining the first few weeks.

Don’t be sad it’s almost over, be happy it’s not done

Don’t be sad it’s almost over, be happy it’s not done


Holler,
Sam U.L. Army