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February 21, 2019

Wait, Is Manchester City Going to Win Four Trophies this Year?

High Press 10 February 21, 2019

Manchester City…where to start?

Before 2008, Manchester City were basically Newcastle United, just as likely for a mid-table finish in the Premier League as they were to fight against relegation or for promotion. Seldom putrid, seldom spectacular.

Then Sheikh Mansour buys them in 2008 and turns them into a global juggernaut. They suddenly have non-Oasis fans. It’s like if you picked the most average guy you knew in high school, and at your 10 year reunion you find out he won the lottery, started dating supermodels while popping bottles daily. Basically, he turned into Dan Bilzerian. That’s Manchester City. And here we are, just over 10 campaigns into this facelifted franchise’s reign, and they are favorites to win not one, not two, not three, but four trophies in 2019.

Let’s run them down.

2019 Carabao Cup Final

The crown jewel of European soccer Thai-based Carabao Dang Energy Drink’s sponsorship portfolio, the 2019 Carabao Cup final, takes place on Sunday, February 24th, 2019 at 11:30am ET. City will face a reeling Chelsea.

The match is on a neutral field at Wembley Stadium, so even though Chelsea is the “home” team, there is no home-pitch advantage. Even if there was, it wouldn’t matter. Chelsea is basically the 2019 version of 2018 Manchester United. They’ve quit on their manager, Maurizio Sarri. As such, Chelsea are a big underdog at +475. Manchester City are favored to win the trophy at -182 on BetStars NJ. The only reason City aren’t favored more heavily in this one is “I have literally no idea.”

2019 FA Cup

The 2019 FA Cup quarterfinals are set. With 8 teams remaining, City finds themselves as the odds-on favorite to win, priced at -140 at FanDuel NJ. Manchester United follows at +360.

Just like how City drew the weakest remaining team in the Champions League field with Schalke 04, the Sky Blues have drawn a veritable “who’s…who?” of tier 2 and 3 FA Cup opponents like Rotherham and Newport County.

Oddly, this is the one I think City is most likely to drop. Teams like United, Wolverhampton, and Crystal Palace could view ’18-19 as a successful campaign with some FA Cup hardware. Regardless, the oddsmakers don’t agree.

2019 Champions League

For a moment, there was a glimmer of hope that Schalke 04 was, at a minimum, about to make it really interesting against City in the Champions League Round of 16. But City scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation and won a hard-fought match on the road (down a man, no less).

Avoiding a potential stumble, City find themselves as at +240 at BetStars NJ and +260 at FanDuel NJ. The next closest team is Barcelona at +500 / +550.

It makes sense. Manchester City has mostly rolled through the competition and are rated the top club in Europe on FiveThirtyEight. Barcelona is being challenged by Lyon. Liverpool or Bayern Munich will bow out this round. Juventus are all but eliminated. City keep drawing rec teams in the FA Cup so they can rest their regulars. This one sets up well for them.

Premier League

Ah, the domestic league title chase.

Despite being tied with Liverpool (although ahead on goal differential), and Liverpool having a game in hand, City are listed as odds-on favorites to win the Premier League at -165. Liverpool follow at +110.

Reds fans are surely frustrated their club didn’t put this race away after City dropped points to Palace, Leicester City, and Newcastle. Since the Newcastle loss, City have gone full-on Keyser Söze, winning their next 5 games across all competition by an 18-4 margin. At least they didn’t burn the Etihad down while doing it.


MLS Week 1 Betting Lines Are Here

High Press 10 February 21, 2019

With the start of the MLS season just 10 days away, some New Jersey sportsbooks have posted week 1 lines.

Here’s a look at opening week MLS odds for March 2-3, 2019. If you’re new here, check out how to bet soccer or betting MLS first to makes sense of it all. Odds posted are from BetStars NJ.

All odds as of 02/21/19

Philadelphia Union +105 Draw +260 Toronto FC +245
Orlando City SC +220 Draw +270 New York City FC +110
Columbus Crew +150 Draw +250 New York Red Bulls +175
FC Dallas -111 Draw +270 New England Revolution +290
Colorado Rapids +170 Draw +240 Portland Timbers +160
Houston Dynamo +105 Draw +275 Real Salt Lake +235
Vancouver Whitecaps +110 Draw +240 Minnesota United FC +260
Los Angeles Galaxy -125 Draw +280 Chicago Fire +320
San Jose Earthquakes +140 Draw +250 Montreal Impact +180
Seattle -154 Draw +300 Fc Cincinnati +400
DC United +190 Draw +260 Atlanta United FC +135
LAFC +105 Draw +275 Sporting Kansas City +245

Also Read: 2019 MLS Cup Futures

La Liga Matchday 25: Previewing Sevilla-Barcelona

Tyler Everett February 21, 2019

Perhaps it was a little unreasonable to count on Real Madrid sustaining the form that allowed them to earn a Copa del Rey draw at Barcelona followed by road wins over Atlético Madrid (La Liga) and Ajax (Champions League). That stretch could have been a flash in the pan for a talented but flawed team. Or it might have been fatigue that caused Los Blancos to falter in a devastating 2-1 loss to 15th-place Girona last Sunday.

What’s not up for debate – not that it was exactly an open question – is who the heavy favorite should be in La Liga. There was nothing pretty about Barcelona’s­­­ 1-0 win over Valladolid last week, but those three points mean Barça (54 points) remains well clear of second-place Atletico (47) and third-place RM (45).

Last weekend was yet another example of Barcelona getting at least a point despite being a long way from its best. Manager Ernesto Valverde’s side have now recorded two draws and an uninspiring win in their last three La Liga contests (five points), but neither Atletico (with three points in their last three) nor Real Madrid (six points in their last three) have fully taken advantage.

Previewing Sevilla-Barcelona

Sevilla +250
Draw +280
Barcelona -110

Saturday’s trip to face fourth-place Sevilla at Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán at 10:15 a.m. Eastern appears to be Barcelona’s toughest La Liga match-up in weeks. That’s as much an indictment of the Catalans’ slate since the winter break – of their seven league foes this calendar year, Getafe is the only one in the top five of the table – as anything.

Sevilla (37 points) is a considerable distance from the top of the table and has struggled since beating Levante 5-0 on Jan. 26. The club has won just one of its last three La Liga matches, including a 3-0 loss to Villarreal last Sunday. But they showed what they’re capable of in big games on Wednesday, beating Lazio 2-0 to advance to the Europa League’s Round of 16.

Barcelona handled these teams’ first match-up of the season, winning 4-2 back in October. Sevilla trailed 2-0 after 12 minutes as Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi both found the back of the net in the early going.

Fatigue could be a factor for both sides in this one. Barcelona is coming off a tough Champions League Round of 16 draw at Lyon on Tuesday (which may play a role in Barça being priced only at -110 at FanDuel NJ) and Sevilla will be fresh off the win over Lazio. While Sevilla’s homefield advantage and Barcelona’s recent inability to blow anyone out make it likely this one will come down to the wire, the smart money is on Barça finding a way, again.

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