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Barstool’s Weekend Soccer Preview – The “Jose vs His Demons” Edition

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

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Hi haters,

I included a long-winded update on various soccer-related news (eg, World Cup expansion and Nagbe vs Klinsmann) in Wednesday’s Champions League post, so if that strikes your fancy go head and read it HERE… but its Friday and there’s alcohol to do so let’s get right to the weekend previewing.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Reminder of what went down last weekend:

2-EPLscores

News, notes, observations and highlights:

– Recap of Liverpool vs United:

3-LIVMUN

In truth DDG saved United’s bacon a couple times, and Liverpool finished the game with something like 65% possession – the most by an opposing team against United in EPL history (so said Martin Tyler near the end of the game) – but even so it was hard to argue that a 0-0 result didn’t feel about right after 90 minutes.

– In contrast, the draw between City and Everton was nowhere near as yawn-inducing. The game will have felt a lot more like two points dropped by the hosts rather than one point earned though, but that’s what happens when you do this:

– I have been yapping all season about how weak Leicester looks at the back, so the fact they are hemorrhaging goals is not a big surprise, but what is shocking is how atrocious they have become almost overnight in defending corner kicks. Here’s a perfect example:

Are you fucking serious Leicester? Another effort like that and I’ll have no choice but to revert back to trusty “Lester”.

On the other hand, Chelsea deserves some credit for a solid performance, which was topped off by this little bit of sexiness by Nathaniel Chalobah and finished off by Victor Moses:

– Dramatic reenactment of Bournemouth vs Hull:

– Beautifully intricate tiki-taka stuff from Spurs helped salvage a point against West Brom:

– How about this finish by West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini:

Also from the same West Ham vs Crystal Palace game came the latest example of the pussification of soccer (“assuming that’s even possible,” say the mouthbreathers):

After having JUST picked up a questionable yellow on what the ref deemed a dive in the box at the other end of the field, Aaron Cresswell got a second yellow (and thus a red) for this. Ridiculously weak. Thankfully didn’t cost West Ham the points.

Anyway, after eight games here is how things look:

Haters will say its photoshopped

Haters will say its photoshopped

As for this weekend, here’s what is on deck:

5-EPLschedule

[Programming note: the NBC executive who gave the green light to show a game involving Tony Pulis on national television deserves a swift kick in the junk.]

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PICKS OF THE WEEK

Your boy Samuel did pretty well with his picks in the Champions League games, which means one thing: more money to lose this weekend. And per tradition, I’ll start out by focusing in on the game of the week, which from a pure entertainment perspective could very well again be ruined for the second week running because, well…

6-mourinho

Chelsea [+115]
United [+250]
Draw [+230]

So here we are, about to watch Jose Mourinho coach against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Who’da thunk.

United come into this weekend’s showdown off the back of a 4-1 spanking of Fenebahce in which the Red Devils looked for much of the game unusually similar to an entertaining team to watch

Unfortunately, despite some nice results here and there (eg, 4-1 over defensively challenged Leicester), United has been very inconsistent, in part because the ridiculous talents they have in the midfield have yet to get on the same page.

As for Chelsea, the Blues looked as good as they have in many moons against that same Leicester squad last week (3-0 win), but Conte’s boys have made a habit so far this season of beating up on lesser opponents (eg, West Ham, Watford, Burnley, Hull) while coming up small against other contenders (eg, losses to Liverpool and Arsenal). Thankfully though they are facing United on Sunday rather than another contender. My guess is that Chelsea will win the midfield battle thanks to the well-defined roles that guys like Matic and Kante (defense) as well as Hazard and Pedro (offense) have taken to nicely this season – it’s truly amazing the things you can do when you haven’t quit on your coach! – which will make the confusion that reigns among United’s midfielders all the more noticeable. The combination of Luiz and Cahill at the back ought to be good for at least one howler, but I still think the home side should pull this one out. A 1-0 finish is not out of the question but I’ll instead pretend to be an optimist about it not becoming a Liverpoo/United-like yawnfest and say Chelsea to win 2-1.

7-conte

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United Swans of America [+130]
Watford [+225]
Draw [+220]

Some people might say the U.S.A. has lost four straight, meaning that a matchup against an in-form Watford side is a recipe for making it five. Those people are dummies. The arrival of Big Bad Bald Bob changes everything. Why? Intangibles: heart, determination, grit, want-to, mock turtlenecks… you may not be able to measure precisely how these things will translate into wins, but you can be damn sure they will. Just look at the U.S.A.’s only game with BBBB in charge: the Swans acquitted themselves well in a tough matchup at Arsenal, ultimately falling just short (3-2 loss) after a pair of horrific defensive errors gifting the Gunners two early goals. Another week of practices under Bob’s steely glare and those types of mistakes will be gone forever. Watford is about to walk into a red, white, black and blue buzzsaw and doesn’t even know it. Swansea to win 2-0.

8-bob

Soccer guy

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Other picks:

• City [-200] just got its ASS handed to it in a midweek Champions League by Barcelona thanks to three goals from the Argentinian Pulisic.

9-messi

That result means the Sky Blues are winless in four straight games. Funny how quickly the tables seem to turn in the EPL, which everybody was sure City was going to run away with a month ago. Despite being out of sorts, the club is relatively healthy and play a Southampton team fresh off a Spursday night game in Italy. This one smells a lot like a statement game from Pep & Co. Hat-trick for Aguero? I’m not saying it’s definitely going to happen, but I’m not not saying it either. City to win 3-0.

• Talk about teams headed in different directions. Hull [+200] is fresh off getting embarrassed by Bournemouth and all of a sudden are looking like exactly who we thought they were at the start of the season – that is, before they shocked the world by reeling off a couple wins. Stoke, on the other hand, finally appears to have gotten its shit together and notched its first win on the season last week. One big question mark: Joe Allen – aka English Messi – has been in the form of his life this season but is in doubt with a dicey hammie. His is absence would be a big blow for the Potters, and yes I am as stunned as you that I just wrote that and actually meant it. If he missed out I still like visitors, but a lot less. As it is I’ll go with Stoke to win 3-2.

“Hi, I'm Joe and I look like a bug”

“Hi, I’m Joe and I look like a bug”

• Remember the game we played with Aston Villa last season? I (could have) bought myself a yacht from betting on whoever the hell they were playing last season. Unfortunately those little honeypots only last one season thanks to the harsh realities of relegation, but I’ve got some great news! There is a damn good chance that Moyes’ boys over at Sunderland pick right up where the Villans left off. The Black Cats have not sunk into the “surefire loss every time and couldn’t care less about it” category quite yet but they are trending that way. This week Sunderland [+425] visit the suddenly-okay-again West Ham [-150]. LOCK OF THE WEEK: West Ham to win 1-0.

• Everton [-150] has hit a mini-skid after starting the season hot like fire. Could wee Burnley [+400] pop up out of nowhere and kick the Toffees in the dick this weekend? Certainly a possibility. Unfortunately their best goalscorer/homophobe Andre Gray is still suspended begging the question of where the offense are going to come from. My guess is that will be the difference. I don’t love the pick with Burnley offering nice value but in the end I’m going with Everton to win 2-1.

• Other winners off the top of my head because the more the merrier for all the true degens in the house: Arsenal over Middlesbrough (like don’t love) and Liverpool over West Brom (love don’t like).

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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

Let this serve as your annual reminder that the quality of MLS – though there is plenty of work to be done – is getting better and better, and there’s no better time to start getting your head around what is going on in the league than right now (assuming you are not a would-be Fire fan) on the eve of the playoffs.

Heading into the last game of the season, the two conference tables look like this:

10-MLStable

As for the games on deck, MLS has taken a page out of the playbook of the EPL (and other leagues) by scheduling all of the games to be played in parallel at 3pm CT on Sunday.

11-MLSschedule

Four teams are fighting for three playoff spots in the Western Conference, with the defending champions Portland on the outside looking in and hoping to snag a spot from either RSL, Seattle or SKC. Further up the table Dallas will lock up the Supporters Shield with a win against LA or loss/draw for Colorado against Houston.

Things are more settled in the East, where Philly has all but sown up the last playoff spot (barring massive loss and huge win by New England), meaning the most interesting battle is between NYCFC and Toronto for a first round bye.

Yeah, yeah, the timing of the games isn’t great with them being in direct conflict with the NFL, but do my good friend Julie a solid and switch your TV2 to an MLS game (FS1 if you’re looking for this sort of sexy sideline exploits):

12-jsb

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REST OF THE WORLD

Spain: Two extremely watchable games this weekend starting with Balenthia face Barcelona on Saturday (9:15am on beIN Sports), followed on Sunday by Sevilla versus Atletico (9:15am on beIN Sports)

Germany: Bayern versus Borussia Monchenpenisgladbach on Saturday (11:30am CT on FS2)

Italy: Milan versus Juventus on Saturday (1:45pm on beIN Sports)

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So there you have it. Have a nice weekend and I’ll check y’all on Tuesday for the first of two League Cup semifinals…

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Holler,
Sam U. L. Army