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February 19, 2019

Liverpool Player Ratings vs. Bayern Munich Champions League (Leg 1 – February 19, 2019)

High Press 10 February 19, 2019

Check back at the end of the Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich Champions League Round of 16 match-up for Liverpool player ratings.

UPDATE: Lively and open from the get-go. A blistering first half with plenty of scoring opportunities for both sides. At the half, the score could’ve just as easily been 3-1 as 0-0. While first half possession was 50/50, Liverpool created 10 shots to Bayern’s 3. By the end of the game, Bayern edged out Liverpool on possession 51-49%, but Liverpool outshot them 15 to 9.

Some of the energy left Liverpool’s attack by the second half, and the teams grinded to a 0-0 draw. The only positive for Liverpool is they do get Virgil van Dijk back for the second leg to further steady a backline that frankly looked great without him.

Despite not pulling away with the victory, Liverpool’s chances of advancement went from 48% to 50% on FiveThirtyEight as they did not concede an away goal.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp (6) – Klopp started with the line-up we predicted. His faith in (inexplicably) starting Keita was rewarded (finally). He did well to sub out Keita and Firmini when he did, as both were losing their effectiveness. However, he failed to create a second half spark like he’s done so often this year, and it may keep Liverpool from advancing in the Champions League.

Goalkeeper

Alisson (7) – A typical Alisson baby-walking-a-tight-rope performance.Confidently played the ball out with his feet early, and punched one out over Fabinho on an effective early cross. Made a cat-like reflex body save in the 13th minute to save Liverpool from going down early. Then in the 17th minute got too cute with the ball and almost turned it over for a Bayern strike. Then in the 37th minute delivered a brilliant technical save to force a corner as opposed to deflecting the ball out for a potential follow-up.

Defenders

Trent Alexander-Arnold (7) – Very strong on the attack, delivering quality cross after cross. Consistently joined in during the second half, creating opportunities. A capable defensive performance.

Fabinho (7.5) – Steady and strong filling in at CB. Made a perfect goal saving challenge against Robert Lewandowski early in the second half.

Joel Matip (5) – Workman like and steady on defense, think poor man’s VVD. Missed a golden opportunity to put Liverpool on top in the 40th minute. Missed another one in the 84th minute where he should’ve taken a touch, steadied the ball, then let it rip. Then missed another one with a header in the 86th minute. Matip could’ve had a hat-trick in an alternate universe.

Andrew Robertson (6) Stronger on the attack than defending. Uncharacteristically shaky and nervy on defense. Klopp needs to get Robbo comfortable taking shots, particularly ripping them on one touch. One of the few Liverpool players who actually got stronger as the game went on at least.

Midfielders

Jordan Henderson (7.5) – We see you, Jordan Henderson. Doing all the hard work that nobody notices.Delivered an incredible pass to Mo Salah in the 12th minute almost leading to an opening goal. Was very strong playing the holding midfielder role.

Georginio Wijnaldum (7.5) – We see you, Gini Wijnaldum. Doing all the hard work that nobody notices. Did well dispossessing in the center of the pitch to create counter-attacks and is playing with assuredness of somebody knowing their in top form. Will wish he got out of Salah’s way in the 75th minute so Mo could’ve gotten a clean strike off.

Naby Keita (6.5) – Maybe it was his familiarity with German soccer, or just finally feeling comfortable in Klopp’s system, but for the first time all season, Keita came out confident. Contributed strong passing and attempted a creative pass-to-himself-bicycle-kick shot on goal in the 20th minute. Seemed to lose steam in the second half, and was appropriately subbed out in the 76th.

Forwards

Roberto Firmino (7.5) – No effects from his illness were present. He was creative and strong on ball. Wisely subbed out for Origi though for a shot of energy at the end.

Sadio Mane (7) – A constant threat in the first half. Lost steam in the second.

Mohamed Salah (7) – Played with purpose. Fantastic work rate and creativity in the first half. Diminishing returns in the second half. Simply needs to start producing more goals against top-level competition.

Substitutions

James Milner (N/R) – Came on in the 76th minute for Keita. His presence allowed Robertson to play more as a wing-back, opening up the attack.

Divock Origi (N/R) – Also came on in the 76th minute, did nothing.

2019 FA Cup Quarterfinals: Betting Odds, Game Times, Where to Watch

High Press 10 February 19, 2019

The 2019 FA Cup quarterfinals matches are set.

The two Manchester clubs avoided each other in the draw. With their respective advancement to the quarterfinals, Manchester United and Manchester City have also managed to push their crucial Premier League derby to a later date.

Here are the match-ups & times, as well as betting odds.

2019 FA Cup Quarterfinal Times and Where to Watch

All 2019 FA Cup quarterfinal matches will take place between March 15-18th. Game times are still TBD. Check back on High Press Soccer once they’re announced.

All matches will be available to watch / stream on ESPN+.

2019 FA Cup Quarterfinal Match-Ups

The following are all 2019 FA Cup match-ups. All quarterfinal ties are knock-out matches (i.e. no home & home). The home team is listed first.

Millwall vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Swansea City vs. Manchester City
Watford vs. Crystal Palace
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester United

2019 FA Cup Futures

With the field down to eight, here are updated FA Cup futures as listed on FanDuel NJ. Not surprisingly, Manchester City are the odds-on favorites.

Manchester City -140  Manchester United +360  Watford +1100  Wolverhampton +1100
Brighton +1400 Crystal Palace +1400 Millwall +4800  Swansea +11000

If you’re looking for value, an argument could be made that City will be shifting their focus towards a Champions League run and Premier League title chase, and may not field their top squad by the semis and finals. Wolverhampton is all-in on the FA Cup. The Wolves tend to play to the level of their opponent, having tied City and United in the Premier League, and defeated Liverpool in the FA Cup 3rd Round. There’s value at +1100.

The same could be said for Palace. They’ve defeated Wolves and City and have tied United this Premier League campaign. Getting +1400 for this capable (yet inconsistent) squad has ROI potential.

2019 MLS Preview: A Look at the Eastern Conference’s Top Contenders

February 19, 2019

The biggest question in the MLS Eastern Conference this season is whether anyone can challenge Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls for the top two playoff spots. Right now, I wouldn’t put money on it.

But, since we’ve looked at Atlanta, the Red Bulls and NYCFC already, let’s take a look at the rest of the conference, starting with those who could mount serious challenges.

Toronto FC

TFC sold Sebastian Giovinco, marking a new era for the team that fell so far last season. This is a contract season for Jozy Altidore, and one has to wonder if this is his last go in Canada. New GM Ali Curtis brought in Laurent Ciman to anchor the central defense and Terrence Boyd to likely be the backup forward. Rumors abound as to who their third DP will be. It’s an important season for TFC, and they still have the talent and infrastructure to win a lot of games.

D.C. United

Keeping up last year’s second-half Wayne Rooney magic could be a difficult task for DCU. But they kept Luciano Acosta (though one has to wonder if he is fully motivated after nearly being transferred to PSG) and they brought in Boca Juniors right back Leonardo Jara on loan.

Philadelphia Union

Ernst Tanner, brought in this off-season as Sporting Director, will have Philly playing a 4-4-2 diamond formation and pressing, big changes after they kept the ball and played a 4-2-3-1 in a resurgent 2018. The Union’s ability to contend depends upon their ability to execute Tanner’s ethos.

Chicago Fire

I’m inclined to believe the Fire are more likely to finish last than first. They finished 10th last year, after all, and unless Grant Lillard emerges at center back, they haven’t helped their leaky defense. But a midfield three of Dax McCarty, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Djordje Mihailovic could feast, if Veljko Paunovic lets it.

Columbus Crew

Caleb Porter is in charge. It will be odd watching the Crew managed by anyone other than new USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter. But Porter will be pragmatic, and he has capable pieces across the roster. Left back Milton Valenzuela’s torn ACL hurts pretty badly, though, and they still won’t have scoring from the wing until Justin Meram snaps out of his funk or Pedro Santos figures it out. I wouldn’t bet on the latter.

Montreal Impact

Maximizing what could be Ignacio Piatti’s final MLS season is Montreal’s most important task — they will have a hard time replacing arguably MLS’s best winger when it comes to it. It will be interesting to see whether Remi Garde maintains counter-attacking tactics, or if he emphasizes more pressing with Maxi Urruti leading the line as one of the league’s top defensive forwards.

New England Revolution

The Revs couldn’t figure out how to do anything more than press last season, so once teams solved them, New England started losing games and never stopped. There is a lot of uncertainty with how Brad Friedel will put together his attack with new transfers Carlos Gil and Juan Fernando Caicedo in the fold. Their biggest weakness could still be passing out of midfield, as well as central defense.

Orlando City SC

One would have a difficult time arguing that Orlando upgraded their roster after last year’s tire fire of a season, especially considering the transfer of Yoshi Yotun to Cruz Azul. But there are a number of younger Homegrowns and USL transfers on the roster, and they jettisoned the entire defensive core. If James O’Connor can put the pieces together, OCSC could at least do some good things.

FC Cincinnati

The newest expansion club spent most of their time buying defenders and defensive midfielders. Their numerous overpays in trades (notably spending nearly $600,000 in value on Nick Hagglund, a brutal blunder from the front office) does not inspire confidence that FCC signed any of the right players. They could prove people wrong, but I doubt it — Cincy are most likely going to be pretty terrible this year.

Also Read: 2019 MLS Preview – Western Conference Contenders 

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