Barstool’s Champions League Preview – Matchday 2(a)
Imagine what life must be like right now for the haters. It’s Tuesday. TPS reports piling up all over the desk. Boss riding your dick (in a bad way). Eugene in the cube next to you with the hairy mole is about to ask you to get Arby’s with him for the 500th day in a row. Friday is a million miles away. The clock is barely moving. The walls are sucking your life force. Everything sucks.
But not for lovers of jogo bonito. Ohhhhhhhh, no no. This afternoon (and tomorrow afternoon for that matter) are going to fly by. Next thing you and I know we will be waking up and it’ll be
Spursday Goonersday, which is basically Friday.
Can’t beat that. But first, time to get your mind right:
My god. It’s beautiful. Now on to the glorious games ahead…
As a quick reminder, here’s what happened on Matchday 1:
If you are new around here, I say this every year but I’m going to reiterate it because it’s no less true: losing your opening group stage game at home is a recipe for getting sent packing (or someplace arguably worse, like Europa… unless you beat the odds and run the table like Dear Leader Jozay did last season). In what can only be described as a true [early] Christmas miracle, Tottenham avoided said fate this time around. I know, I’m as shocked as you. Those clubs that did not though are: Benfica, Celtic, Feyenoord, Olympiacos and Porto. Rough sledding for dem boys going forward.
Bit early to worry too much about the tables but here they are anyway:
On the plus side, there are five more group stage games left to be played, which is plenty of time to turn things around and finish in the top two, but safe to say the pressure on the aforementioned five clubs has already been ratcheted up a few notches.
Here are the games on deck this week (with the various TV assignments):
Real Madrid [+145]
Real Madrid has looked surprisingly pedestrian for long stretches in recent weeks, finding a way to lose to and get shutout by Real Betis at home last Wednesday then squeaking by mini-mite Alavas on Saturday. Absences of Karim Benzema up top and Marcelo at the back are important, but the talent on Zidane’s bench would make lesser men blush.
Point being: they are Madrid. This is Champions League. This is their jam. Underestimate them at your peril.
Dortmund are flying, and it is not an overstatement to say that the BVBabyjesus has been one of the team’s most influential players through the first few months of the season. They are once again one of the most entertaining clubs in Europe to watch, in large part because their offensive strategy is typically “balls to the wall” – especially at home (and/or Wembley). The Aubameyang and Yarmelenko is just plain fun to watch. On the other end, Dortmund’s defensive record so far this season is actually surprisingly good, though a majority of their shutouts came against lesser competition whereas results against the likes of Tottenham and Bayern suggest the backline is a bit leakier than the stats suggest. Add to that injuries to guys like Raphael Guerreiro, Marcel Schmelzer and Erik Durm, and doubts about Marc Bartra.
Point being: suffice to say it is hard to imagine this game turning into a pitching duel.
Prediction: this is going to be one HELLUVA game to watch, and FOX made a damn smart choice putting it on FS1. Madrid’s backline is solid but BVB’s pressure is going to be unrelenting, and the law of large numbers means something – more likely somethings – will eventually get through. On the other end Ronnie and Asensio are going to find plenty of space to make some magic happen. Games like this could go either way depending on who takes their chances… 5-1 Madrid? Possibly. 4-2 Dortmund? Perhaps. But I’m going with an action-packed 2-2 draw.
Spartak Moscow [+400]
Liverpool put themselves in a little (read: not large) hole by coughing up the win against a determined Sevilla side last matchday, meaning that three points against the weakest club in the group is a must. Road games in Champions League are never gimmies though, especially not in cold ass Mother Russia. If the travel and snap snowstorms in July don’t get you, fans able to smuggle flare guns into games might.
WC18 gon’ be lit af!
There are two ways to look at Spartak’s recent domestic performance, in which they have won precisely one out of their last six games, including a 1-1 home draw against something called Anji this weekend, and sit mid-table in the Russki League. Either they are saving all their strength for Champions League, or they just aren’t all that good. On the other hand, Liverpool outlasted Lester at the weekend but the midfield will inevitably be a bit worn down and the backline – Joel Matip aside – ain’t scaring anybody.
This is a tough one. Liverpool’s defense will be tired and flimsy, but Spartak doesn’t pose a huge threat outside of perhaps striker Luiz Adriano. I’ve been leaning towards draw all day but making a last minute 180… Liverpool to win 2-1 with at least one goal from STUDGE.
Pop quiz: where is APOEL Nicosia located?
Did you say Romania? Well then congratulations you are a big stupid idiot because the club is in Cyprus. Not sure where they are in the Greek or Turkish, though I’m going to take a stab at it and guess Nicosia sounds like the former. Who gives a shit about the geopolitical features of the game but I am just trying to fill a little space because the truth is APOEL is not very good and there is only one reason why Tottenham would not come away with three points – actually make that two reasons. The first is, as it always is, the fact they are Spurs and losing winnable games in key situations is the lifeblood of the club. The second reason is really more like six sub-reasons, including Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli… all of whom would be candidates to start but are out due to injury and (for the last two) suspension.
Tottenham fans rn:
Spurs have back to back games against a little club called Real Madrid coming up next so three points against the group minnows – or one point MIN-UH-MUM – are an absolute must. A big game from Harry Kane and or The Good Korean are an absolute must for Tottenham to get points, and lord knows I’ll be rooting my little balls off, but as any Spurs fan knows this is the handy dandy scientifically validated flowchart for predicting the result:
Tough to argue with proven facts. 1-1 draw.
Shakhtar Donetsk [+1200]
The Ukraine may not be weak, but it is about to get shit on.
City to win 3-1.
A few more random picks (because the more I toss out there the better than chances I eventually get one right):
• Napoli is coming off a disappointing loss to those same soon-to-be-pooped-on Ukrainians and are about to take a little frustration out on some helpless Dutchies. Napoli to win 3-0.
• I called out Besiktas as being a darkhose in the UCL preview and they came up big with a road win over Porto. Tough matchup against the upstart Red Bullion but I’m sticking with the Turks. Besiktas to win 2-1.
• Monaco versus Porto is a battle between teams that consistently do more with less, and get paid handsomely for their efforts. The Frenchies are missing a couple guys, including (it seems) ex-almost Arsenal man Thomas Lemar, which is a big miss. The Portuguese must be taking steroids because the entire team is healthy and, as you might recall, lost their first game at home so will come in DESPERATE for point. When in doubt follow the motivation (especially if they are Portuguese and it is in the Champions League). Porto to win 3-2. Either way, don’t expect a lot of defense.
Reminder: got another biggggggggg slate tomorrow including United and Chelsea
Reminder #2: One month and counting and those dicks at twitter still haven’t let me out of jail.
Nazis are allowed back out on the twitter streets in a matter of hours and yet here I am still locked away for *ALLEGEDLY* posting a clip of Hugo Lloris butthurting after giving up the game winner to Chelsea FROM A MONTH AGO. Suck my effing D, twitterdicks. In the meantime, my shitty tweets can be found here: