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Barstool’s Champions League Preview – Matchday 4a (aka The “City, Rising From The Ashes?” Edition)

Sam’s Soccer Safe Space For Stoolies

1-ucl

Hi haters,

Remember last week when the only thing we had to watch on TV while we were supposed to be working was the crappy old League Cup? Welp, without the sour you can’t appreciate the sweet, and ain’t nothing sweeter than…

Oh hells yes.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Quick reminder of the results from Matchday 3:

2-UCLscores

That leaves the eight groups looking like this:

3-UCLtable1
4-UCLtable2

Two teams have raced out to big (though often still surmountable) leads in roughly half of the groups – A, D, F and H – while E (Spursy!) is still totally up for grabs. The rest could be turned upside down by the right results. Point being: unless you are Atletico or UCLeicester [note: not to be confused with EPLeicester], you’ve still got it all to play for over the final three matchdays.

As for the midweek schedule in front of us, this is what we’ve got:

5-UCLschedule

If your first thought is, “Hmmmmm, these sound familiar,” well congrats, you are correct. These are the same matchups (but reverse fixtures – meaning whoever was at home is now the visitor) as the last matchday.

[IMPORTANT SCHEDULING NOTE: daylight savings time is a foreign concept to me. Thank god phones automatically change the time when it is appropriate these days because I ALWAYS used to screw that up. Anyway, point being, apparently daylight savings in Europe is different in the US because you may have noticed that kickoffs are one hour later than usual this week. And if you didn’t notice, well now you did. You’re welcome.]

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TUESDAY’S PICKS

City [+185]
Barrrrrrrrrrthelona [+135]
Draw [+255]

Nobody realized it at the time, but City 1.0 was killed by Celtic on Matchday 1 of the Champions League in late September. Pep’s boys had been mowing people down left and right all season until an early goal for the Bhoys seemingly sapped their confidence for, ohhhhhhhhhh, about two months or so. Rock bottom came two weeks ago when Barcelona did unspeakable things to City’s dead body during a 4-0 demolishment at the Camp Nou.

The Sky Blues finally showed some semblance of spine on Saturday by spanking the bejesus out of West Brom, but one win against a mid-table muddler is hardly evidence of the type of the sudden resurgence that would be needed to keep pace with Messi and Suarez and Neymar (et al).

One thing to keep in mind going into today’s game is City’s historical record against Barça, which an optimist would describe as “unblemished”:

6-city-bar

Unfortunately that’s not the kind of perfection that will give fans much confidence. However, streaks are made to be broken. The team is as healthy as it has been in a while and, assuming Pep rubs some Vagisil on his mental ouchy and starts Sergio Aguero this time around, they have the weapons to give a beatable Barcelona defensive unit some difficulties.

In fact, I’m calling it now: today marks the day when City 2.0 rises from the ashes. The day club and their fans will look back on fondly years from now as the game in which they finally put it all (back) together, became a well-oiled machine and at long last told Barcelona: “No, sirs, you may not grab me by the pussy!”

2-2 draw

7-pep

**

PSV [+900]
Bayern [-325]
Draw [+460]

Here’s the problem with PSV this season: they are just not very good. So while I’m tempted to take a flyer on a club that most seasons would give just about anybody at least a tough game at home most years, this just ain’t most years. Bayern to win 2-0.

The good old days

The good old days

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Other picks (gotta get one right eventually, after all):

• Remember when we all got rich better on Besiktas [+240] to waltz into Napoli [+115] and come out with a win? Ahhhhh, happy memories. So here’s the thing about Italians: revenge is kinda their thing. Trust me, I dated one once. So that and the fact the Turks will be missing 3-4 starters leads me to believe this has 2-1 win for Napoli written all over it.

• I’ve been singing Rostov’s [+1900] praises all Champions League and how have they repaid me? By losing, losing and losing some more. Should have known better than to trust some Russkis. The club did look okay in their recent 0-1 loss to Atleti [-800] and I was scouring the interwebs trying to scare up a reason to buy a lottery ticket on them… alas, my search was fruitless. Diego’s boys are too good. Atleti to win 3-1.

• Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you might be thinking right now. “Hey Sam, be more predictable with your picks you useless hack.” Well, first of all, if you really are thinking that then you’re kind of a dickhead because City to draw and Napoli to win on the road [plus-money] are not exactly slam dunks. But because I know you may be jonesing for an upset to pad your “fat stack” of cash in preparation for this weekend’s Breeders Cup then might I direct your attention towards Basel [+460] hosting PSG [-175]. The Frenchies are admittedly loaded with talent and walked all over the Swissies 3-0 in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, but the home side has been surprisingly good in their own backyard and is desperate for points. I am tempted to shade towards the draw but sometimes you just gotta live a little. Basel to win 1-0.

• Arsenal [-300] visiting Ludogorets [+750] is another interesting one. The Gunners have been flying lately but – as can be seen from the scoreless draw vs Middlesbrough and 70 minutes of listlessness against Sunderland at the weekend – the club is not immune to looking inept offensively for long stretches. Thus, some sort of low-scoring draw today does not seem out of the question, though I assume the visitors will eventually find a little something. Arsenal to win 1-0.

Timeless

Timeless

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Reminder: got another biggggggggg slate tomorrow including Spurs and Leicester, and Manchester United.

Good things come to those who wait

Good things come to those who wait


Holler,
Sam U.L. Army