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Barstool’s Champions League Preview – The “Pep’s City or Poop City? (ELITEish EIGHT Day 3 of 4)” Edition

Sam’s Soccer Safe Space For Stoolies

Hi haters,

There is no understating how much this day is going to SUCK for some people. There is also no overstating how MARVELOUS it is going to be for some others. So as someone who is not a member of either of those tribes, I’m going to sit back and revel in the glorious splendor of an incredibly high stakes game involving two extremely entertaining teams in which EITHER one club’s incredible season will come crashing down around them OR the other club will go down in infamy as big-time choke artists. There is no in between. One or the other has to happen. That is the risk you run by not pulling an Arsenham HotSpenal and safely crashing out of the Champions League immediately after the group stage.

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Also, Messi is playing today so it might as well be a godamn international holiday… though FOX (in their infinite wisdom) is not actually showing it on television, which is an international tragedy.

Either way, soccer is coming in hot so call in sick or head out to lunch early or get yourself fired – do whatever you gotta do because IT’S TUESDAY! FINALLY!!

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Results from last week:

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I am not going to lie to you and act like those first leg scores did not – potentially – suck a lot of the drama out of the proceedings. Real Madrid heading home with a three goal cushion to face a Dybala-less Juventus… Barrrrrthelona starting any game ever with a three goal lead… Sevilla needing to score multiple goals and beat Bayern in the Allianz… silly to say it out loud but Liverpool traveling to City up “only” three goals is the “closest” of the four ties at the moment. That’s just how the cookie crumbles though. Thankfully there will still be some drama because that’s just how soccer works.

As for this week’s schedule:

4-schedule

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TUESDAY’S PICKS

City [-220]
Liverpool [+475]
Draw [+375]

Liverpool were flat out impressive in the first leg. Their finishing was clinical and, more notably, their defense was lights out. VVD and Dejan Lovren were in sync the entire game, while wing backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and especially Andrew Robertson played perhaps their best games for the Reds – and not a bad time for it.

On the flipside, City were straight up garbage. Part of that is a credit to Liverpool, which pressured the ball anywhere and everywhere on the field from the first whistle and basically put the pressure on City to make plays – which they did not… at all… ever… as in, not even once… in 90 minutes. To a man, they were awful. Sure, it started with Pep putting out a defensive lineup (Gundogan and Fernandinho in midfield) and ‘experimenting’ with Laporte at LB, but the primary problem were the guys on the field stinking up the joint.

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Leroy Sane was probably the worst of the bunch but Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva were not far behind in terms of seemingly going out of their way not to make things happen. Then there was the defense, which time and again gifted Liverpool the ball in dangerous areas.

So the task now for City is wiping the slate clean and starting again. Scoring three goals in one game at home is child’s play for them. Ignoring the Basel game where Pep played a C-team, City has scored three goals in damn near every recent home game.

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A notable exception, of course, being the debacle against United this past weekend where they went into HT up 2-0 before inexplicably imploding… and even still were “unlucky” not to get awarded penalty (Aguero/Young) that would have at least given them three goals and salvaged a draw.

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Point being, City can score with reckless abandon. The other point of that little exercise though is that at some point we have to start questioning City’s mental fortitude. In their two biggest games of the season (back to back), they have now played one good half (1H vs United) and three absolutely dogshit halves. So, yeah, they are definitely capable of coming back today… but do they have the testicles to do so? Jury is very much out on that.

Why Liverpool could win: if City make a dumb mistake (they have been making a LOT lately) concede early then we can all go home because Liverpool scoring just once means that City would have to win 5-1 to advance given the away goals rule. This is not out of the realm of possibility with how cheaply Walker is known to give the ball away and how prone to inexplicable brainfarts Otamendi is. Unfortunately they are even thinner in midfield this game with Jordan Henderson suspended, so City (at home especially) are going to dominate even more of the ball. Sitting back and absorbing pressure is not exactly Liverpool’s forte these days, but then again they did exactly that quite well for the entire second half last time out. Offensively it will be all about the counter. They will get a handful of chances. Put one away one half chance that’ll be that.

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Why City should win: It’s simple. Avoid mistakes and make plays. City were 0-for-2 in the first leg.

City are going to dominate possession and – going out on a limb, sadly, based on the first leg – will create a ton of chances. Betting on them though essentially means what you are willing to accept two articles of faith: (1) that City have a very good performance offensively, which is easier said than done against a visiting Liverpool team that has not conceded three goals on the road since CHRISTMAS (ie, not once in the pre-VVD era)

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but more importantly, you have to believe (2) City’s defense completely shuts down Liverpool’s offense. This latter part of the equation is what I am having trouble with. Salah & Co. are going get a look here and there. Not many, but a few. Are you really willing to bet the Power of the Puff doesn’t come through once – just once! – at some point? I donno. Far weirder things have happened.

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Gun to head I’m guessing City scores at least one or two… just enough to get our juices flowing a bit… before Liverpool scores to ruin the fun. City to “win” 3-1.

After all, this just makes too much damn sense NOT to happen:

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Roma [+375]
Barcelona [-180]
Draw [+300]

Roma came out giving zero fooks about playing Barcelona in the Camp Nuo last week should feel extremely hard done by coming away 1-4 losers. That’s the good news. Unfortunately “playing well” and “deserving more from a game” is about as worthwhile dry humping… zero satisfaction with lots of chafing.

On the plus side this one is the Stadio Olimpico, so there’s that. The bad news is they still gotta play Barcelona. Barcelona is not only very good, but they are also very rested after sitting half their regulars over the weekend. Plus they have Messi.

Given how impressive Roma looked the first time around I’ll give them some credit and say they keep it close, but it feels like one of those games where anytime they start making moves and perhaps even score a goal then Barcelona will play for a minute, score a goal, then take their foot off the pedal again. I’ll go with a 2-2 draw (can’t beat those odds for a home side at this stage of the UCL, after all).

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Hint: he ain’t walking through that door

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Another big day tomorrow…… I mean, kind of. It is more Champions League after all. Can’t argue with that.

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#FactsOnly


Holler,
Samuel Army