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March 14, 2019

Champions League Quarterfinals: Draw, Odds, Teams and Times (UPDATED)

High Press 10 March 14, 2019

UPDATE: Bumping this post in light of the Champions League Quarterfinal draw happening Friday, March 15th at 6am ET. We’ll update the post with match-ups as their drawn and odds per fixture.

2019 Champions League Quarterfinals Draw

The Champions League Quarterfinals draw takes place on Friday, March 15th at 7am ET. The draw is held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

Unlike the Round of 16, there are no seedings or protections (i.e. two Premier League teams could play each other, like last year when Liverpool defeated Manchester City).

The eight winners from the Round of 16 will be entered into the draw. Similar to the Round of 16, each team will play a home game with the aggregate winner advancing.

Who Is In the Champions League Quarterfinals?

We’ll add advancing teams as they complete their Round of 16 Leg 2 matches. As of Tuesday, March 5th:

  • Ajax (defeated Real Madrid 5-3 aggregate)
  • Tottenham Hotspurs (defeated Borussia Dortmund 4-0 aggregate)
  • Manchester United (defeated Paris Saint-Germain 3-3 aggregate on away goals)
  • Porto (defeated Roma 4-3 on aggregate)
  • Juventus (defeated Atletico Madrid 3-2 on aggregate)
  • Manchester City (defeated Schalke 04 bazillion-2 on aggregate)
  • Liverpool (defeated Bayern Munich 3-1 on aggregate)
  • Barcelona (defeated Lyon 5-1 on aggregate)

2019 Champions League Quarterfinals Match-Ups

Match-ups drawn for the quarterfinals are:

  • Ajax vs. Juventus (April 9)
  • Liverpool vs. Porto (April 9)
  • Tottenham vs. Manchester City (April 9)
  • Manchester United vs. Barcelona (April 9)
  • Juventus vs. Ajax (April 16)
  • Porto vs. Liverpool (April 16)
  • Manchester City vs. Tottenham (April 16)
  • Barcelona vs. Manchester United (April 16)

The winner of Ajax vs. Juventus will play the winner of Tottenham vs. Manchester City in the semis.

The winner of Liverpool vs. Porto will play the winner of Barcelona vs. Manchester United in the semis.

When Will 2019 Champions League Quarterfinals Games Be Played?

Leg 1 matches take place April 9th and 10th. Second leg matches are the following week on April 16th and 17th.

Champions League Quarterfinals Betting Odds

Leg 1 matches are listed below. Home teams are listed first.

Ajax +290 Draw +240 Juventus -105
Tottenham +290  Draw +260 Manchester City -110
Liverpool -240 Draw +350 Porto +700
Manchester United +260 Draw +250 Barcelona +100

Odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook NJ

Champions League Futures

On Thursday, March 14th, FanDuel Sportsbook NJ had the following futures.

Manchester City +230 Barcelona +340 Juventus +340 Liverpool +470
Manchester United +1000 Tottenham +1600 Ajax +2500 Porto +7000

After the quarterfinal pairings were announced, the news futures shifted to the following:

Manchester City +220 Juventus +270  Barcelona +380 Liverpool +390
Manchester United +1600 Tottenham +2500 Ajax +3100 Porto +9500

Champions League Quarterfinal Probabilities

As of March 15th, FiveThirtyEight has updated their Champions League probabilities to the following:

The draw gave Manchester City and Liverpool bumps to win the UCL. Juventus and Ajax took probability hits.

Where to Watch

In the US, games will be broadcast on TNT and streamed online at B/R Live.

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Frank de Boer Edition

Chops March 14, 2019

For the first time in the two year history of Atlanta United, boos filled the Mercedes-Benz Stadium after a game.

The boos weren’t necessarily directed at the players though. The jeers were aimed at new manager Frank de Boer and the noticeable change in style, system, and results he’s brought the Five Stripes.

Is it fair? Is it way, way, waaaay too early to judge de Boer?

Let’s debate in a new section called “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” with High Press Soccer site-runner (and Atlanta resident) Chops and MLS writer Harrison Hamm.

Frank de Boer: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Chops: Put me in the contingent of skeptics of this hire from Day 1. Frank de Boer had a good run at Ajax, yes. Four straight titles, even in the Eredivisie when your only real regular competition is PSV and occasionally Feyenoord, is still a difficult feat. But his incredibly disastrous stints at Inter Milan (oof) and Crystal Palace (double oof) seemed to be a better indicator of what the future held. It’s easy to feel validated from early results.

Harrison Hamm: You’re right that de Boer failed at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace. Those were tiny sample sizes, though, with groups of players that didn’t have time to coalesce around de Boer’s possession system. His six years at Ajax, on the other hand, produced world-class players and those four titles. Atlanta and its emphasis on cultivating and selling on youth is more similar to Ajax than Inter or Crystal Palace. It’s a long-term project.

Chops: I’m totally willing to admit that 1) it’s still early, and even the likes of Klopp and Pep needed a year and a transfer window (or two) to start seeing the kind of results everyone expected, and 2) for the most part, United has faced a difficult schedule. But it’s also irresponsible to ignore how badly de Boer’s last two stops went. I mean, Palace didn’t even score a single league goal. Not one!

Hamm: There are legitimate concerns there. Perhaps, though, this is only an indication of the complexity of de Boer’s system. Players will adapt, and de Boer will figure out how best to deploy them. I’d guess this oddball 3-4-3 he’s been trying will go away sooner rather than later. That his tactics are this difficult to implement is undoubtedly a flaw, but it doesn’t mean Atlanta won’t eventually come around under de Boer.

Chops: To your point, he already shifted the 3-4-3 offensively to create more opportunities on Wednesday against Monterrey. Where he wants to build from the back, ATL just doesn’t have the personnel to play like that. Seriously, Guzan had more possession last night than Josef Martinez. It was nuts. Although adding Florentin Pogba to the backline may help, he looked solid with that ball at his feet (can’t believe I just typed that). And Miles Robinson looked like a poor man’s Virgil van Dijk. Still, I’m grasping at straws. Aside from last night, I was there at the season debut with FC Cincinnati. The early Josef Martinez goal obfuscated how toothless Atlanta’s attack was for the game and their general lack of urgency in general. Counter-attacks were listless. The team looked disinterested and unhappy. You can see it on their faces and in their body language. There was no link-up creativity. Everything that defined United the past two years–that made the city embrace them–was missing.

Hamm: All of that will improve as players figure out what de Boer wants. Pity Martinez looks tentative and out of place, but MLS is a difficult league to decode for foreign players, especially given the rude awakening of Concacaf Champions League. He, along with Ezequiel Barco (at some point!) and others, will adapt. Atlanta is talented enough to scuttle along until de Boer gets what he wants out of this group.

Chops: FdB probably will get a long enough leash to make it work. If Arthur Blank runs ATLUTD the way he runs the Falcons, he’ll give the manager enough time to either hang himself or right the ship. For de Boer apologists, this is a good thing. You’ll have enough time to be proven right. However, with the 1-3 aggregate loss to Monterrey, and no wins in MLS, at what point do results start to matter over process?

Hamm: I think it would become a serious concern at the point that Atlanta are consistently dropping results and looking directionless doing it. I can’t see that happening any time soon, considering the cohesion they brought from last year and de Boer’s pedigree. But fans are restless, and Atlanta’s ambition suggests they could prove quick to the trigger if poor form continues. It’s worth noting, however, that Atlanta had similar issues attacking bunkered shapes last year under Tata Martino. A lot of these difficulties aren’t new.

Chops: The problem there is players hear and see everything now. They now the heat is on de Boer. If they don’t buy in, and right now it doesn’t look like they have, this very quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. One problem they can’t solve is the absence of Miguel Almiron. It’s also become very obvious that Miggy was the the fulcrum of the attack. Pity has potential (I think, still waiting, but small sample size) but he’s not the replacement we thought he’d be (yet) and neither is Barco (who shines in fleeting flashes). Both have high work rates, much like Almiron, but neither have the ball-handling skills or vision that the new Newcastle man has.

To that point, do you think that de Boer needs to bring in new players to fit his system? And can the MLS facilitate that as quickly as the Premier League or La Liga? Isn’t that going to be a problem?

Hamm: I don’t think there’s an urgent personnel need; only at left wingback is there a noticeable gap in quality. They will surely search hard for a splash in the summer transfer window with as much cash as they can muster, given their lack of a DP spot, but this is on de Boer to fix with the players he has, and to prove he is the managerial answer. I’m sure that Atlanta would love to mine Europe for talent at this point in the season, but that will likely have to wait until the summer.

Chops: I certainly hope FdB finds the answers. No true fans want to see him fail (even after he called them “spoiled”). De Boer though needs to be more flexible in his thinking and approach, and tweak his system to suit his players strengths, or the #FDBOUT chorus will just sing louder and louder.

Champions League Round of 16 Leg 2 Week 2: Five Things We Learned

Chops March 14, 2019

What a week of European football.

Odds were once again flipped on their head, all time great players turned in all time great performances, and the field is now set for the Champions League Quarterfinals. Here are five things we learned this week.

1. The Premier League is Tops. For the first time since 2008-09, four Premier League teams have advanced to the Champions League final 8. It’s not just that Premier League teams have been dominant this campaign (they were also the only domestic league to produce four Round of 16 qualifiers)–it’s that two titans have capsized in their wake. Real Madrid will miss out on the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009-10. Bayern Munich won’t advance to the final 8 for the first time since 2008-09.

2. Sadio Mane is the new Mo Salah. Remember a year ago right now, when Mo Salah was scoring Messi-like goals on a weekly basis? May I introduce you to Sadio Mane? The Senegalese striker is on fire, scoring in both volume and quality at a team his team needs it most. From backheels to poise under pressure, enjoy this run of form from Mane.

3. Bayern Needs a Reboot. A few years from now, we’ll likely look back at the 2018-19 campaigns of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich the same way: the year that prompted both to reset, spend, and get younger. It wasn’t just that Liverpool looked better than Bayern yesterday, it was that Bayern looked limp. Toothless. Old. Expect big changes this summer from the German giants.

4. Ronaldo and Messi are the Best Ever. Yeah, on a personal level, Ronaldo is exceedingly unlikable. But you can’t disrespect his game. Messi is like a good bottle of Andrew Murray wine, aging better and better. Enjoy these two and the moments of brilliance they produce. While their primes are both stretching to Tom Brady-like levels, it won’t last forever.

5. Don’t Discount the Underdog. While the probabilities weren’t flipped on their head as drastically as the previous week, Juventus (25% to advance) and Liverpool (47%) both overcame the odds to make the quarters. As we keep writing, on a game-by-game basis, soccer can be fluky. A team can greatly exceed their xG (cough Manchester United cough) and shock the world. At least one team will probably do that in the next round.

Updated 2019 UEFA Champions League Title Odds

High Press 10 March 14, 2019

With the Champions League Quarterfinal draw tomorrow, let’s take a quick look at updated futures as listed on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ . We expect some movement on these prices based on the draw and pairings on Friday.

Manchester City +230 Barcelona +340 Juventus +340 Liverpool +470
Manchester United +1000 Tottenham +1600 Ajax +2500 Porto +7000

Manchester United Overvalued, Liverpool & Ajax Undervalued

The Favorites. First things first, City and Barca as the two favorites is no surprise. Both dominated their [far inferior] opponents in the Round of 16. City is rated as the best team on the planet. Barcelona has the best player of all time who is also possibly having his best season ever.

Overvalued. Not to take anything away from Manchester United, what they’ve done since sacking Jose Mourinho is remarkable, but are we sure they’re not more lucky than good right now? At a minimum, would they win a tie vs. either Tottenham or Ajax? Both of those clubs have a higher rating than United as of today. Tottenham at least would likely be favored if they were matched up against United (Ajax was one of our value picks against Real Madrid and just aren’t getting oddsmaker respect yet). The +1000 for United is generous. It may have more to do with Man U being a public team than on merits of being the fifth most likely to win the UCL.

Undervalued. Liverpool’s +470 is interesting. They’re the #2 ranked global club, ahead of Barcelona (#3) and Juventus (#6, and by a wide margin). They just dismantled the #4 ranked global club, Bayern Munich, at Allianz Arena.

They also have the second highest win probability according to FiveThirtyEight, doubling Juventus’ chances.

Again, some of this will shift slightly tomorrow after the draw, but based on the analytics, Liverpool has value.

The same can be said for Ajax. We’ve been beating the Ajax drum since the Round of 16, and nothing changes here. To be clear: we don’t think Ajax will win the 2019 Champions League title. However, taking out the fact that they’re not exactly a public team that receives mass support, Ajax’s pricing should be flipped with Manchester United.


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