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Barstool’s Champions League Preview – The “Liverpool vs Roma – Round 1” Edition

Sam’s Soccer Safe Space For Stoolies

Hi haters,

Four teams. Four leagues. One domestic Champion (Bayern). One returning champion (Real). One former Champion (Liverpool). One perennial Also-Ran (Roma). Three must perish. One will prevail. It won’t be Tottenham. True storybook stuff.

These are the games where players write themselves into the annals-not-anals of history as GOATs or as goats. If you aren’t getting half-chubbed right now just contemplating the drama and excitement we are in for this afternoon – while the rest of dummies around you are humping it for The Man, no less – well sir/ma’am, suffice to say this blog is probably not for you.

Now sit back, relax, close your eyes, press play, and savor the sweet sounds of the closest thing to sex you (or at least I) will experience all day:

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

How we got here (in brief):

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Not to beat a dead yet still beautiful horse, but the second legs of the quarterfinals – as a collective whole – were some of the most compelling sports I’ve been fortunate enough to witness in quite some time. Sevilla were perpetually nipping at Bayern’s ass. Liverpool/City somehow felt like a 5-1 nail-biter. Roma quietly pulled off one of the most impressive if improbable comebacks in Champions League history. And Juventus bossed Real Madrid up and down the field for 90 minutes before conceding a soft (but legit) penalty just before the final whistle, then watching helplessly as Ronny, who had been silent the entire game, did what Ronny does best and stepped up when it matters most by coolly, calmly, collectively smashing the ball into the upper corner. RIPIP Old Lady.

Incredible scenes, those. But now we move on. The slates are wiped clean. Everything to play for once again. And off we go…

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TUESDAY’S PICK

Liverpool [-220]
Roma [+500]
Draw [+360]

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Ummmmmmm, yeah, gonna go ahead and respectfully but strenuously disagree with those odds. Liverpool’s ceiling is definitely higher than Roma, meaning that if they are on their game – especially at Anfield – they could run the Italians ragged. But the Reds have shown they are capable of flat performances. Look no further than the last two times they have played Dead Brom (and don’t gimme that “but that was Liverpool’s B-team” jibber jabber… Salah and Mane and Henderson and Milner and VVD and Karius were out there, which should have been enough to pound a dead team.) Point being, not that it will necessarily happen, but there could definitely be some good value in going against the grain.

Okay, yeah, let’s not go overboard Hendo

Leave it to Hendo The Hardo to take things a little too far

Now, as for the game. I’ve seen a lot of people breaking things down by GK/D/M/F but doing a horrible job of it so here’s how these stack up for my money:

GK – Karius (like much of the Liverpool squad, tbh) has come on remarkably strong as the season has worn on and the fact this is even close is a testament to how well he is played. Gun to head I might go with Alisson if for no other reason than how consistently bad Karius was in his first year-plus with the Reds, but I’m trying hard not to hold that against him at this point because maybe some leopards do change their spots… Verdict: Toss-Up

DEFENSE – I’ve seen a lot of people saying Roma’s defense is better, which I have to assume is because numbskulls are suggesting Liverpool’s defense right now is essentially the weighted average of Liverpool’s defense pre-VVD and post-VVD. This rationale, it should go without saying, is both dumb and stupid. Not only has VVD almost singlehandedly turned Lovren into a legitimate defender but Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have been revelations on the wings, and are low-key a YOUGE reason why Liverpool survived thrived against City. Roma’s back three is solid, don’t get me wrong, and they just got done shutting down Barcelona in incredibly impressive fashion. But overall I’d lean towards Liverpool even before taking into account the fact that (a) Federico Fazio – despite having an extremely solid season – is Dejan Lovren’s brother from a South American mother and (b) Manolas alongside him is good but he’s no VVD… Verdict: Slight edge to Liverpool

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MIDFIELD – Liverpool’s midfield is full of hard-working, blue-collar types who put in full shifts, never clock out early but also are largely incapable of being game-changers (Jordan Henderson’s once annual miraculous 30-yard bomb not withstanding). Essentially, Liverpool’s midfield is Pittsburgh. Roma, on the other hand, is far more dynamic with Florenzi and Kolarov storming the wings, Rossi and Strootman controlling the flow of play, and Nainggolan being a slightly more offensive-minded chip off the old N’Golo Kante. This one isn’t all that close… Verdict: Significant edge to Roma

FORWARDS – Edin Dzeko is a one-man wrecking ball but whoever he is paired with, let’s say Patrik Schick, ain’t exactly scaring anybody and more importantly “They’got Salah… do do do do do doooo—yeah, okay, you get the point

Probably banging your girl as we speak

Basically, the Reds can attack in more ways and from more angles, thus posing more problems even perhaps than Barrrrrthelona did… Verdict: Significant edge to Liverpool

So who wins? Like mentioned above, I’d give Roma a much better shot than what the bookies are implying. The Italians defensive spine – Fazio, Manolas, Jesus and let’s throw Nainggolan in there, too – should benefit from having recently played against Salah day in and day out in practice. The key will be production from Mané and Firmino, who have been far more hit and miss than Egyptian Puff Daddy all season. Liverpool have the potential to blow just about anybody out but I’ll take a shot in the dark and say the combination of Roma’s defense and the magnitude of the moment leads to limited opportunities and some sloppy finishing. I’m basically on the fence with a 2-1 win for Liverpool on one side but will instead opt for a 1-1 draw because the odds are just too dang titillating.

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Another big, big, biggggggggggggggggg day tomorrow. Bayern versus Madrid. Doesn’t get much bigger than that.

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Giggit-frickin-ty.


Holler,
Samuel Army