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April 6, 2019

2019 UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals Predictions (Repost)

Chops April 6, 2019

Editor’s’Note: Bumping this post back up as we near Tuesday’s matches. Look for our first podcast which will cover the UCL next week as well.

With the Champions League Quarterfinal draw set, it’s time for another round of predictions.

First, we’re welcoming a new prognosticator to this round’s panel: former Russian national team member Katya Gokhman. Joining her are site-runner Chops, Tyler Everett, and former Premier League striker Carl Cort. After a stint in the US with the NASL, Carl now conducts Las Vegas private soccer training and clinics.

Second, a quick review of how we did on the Round of 16. While here at High Press Soccer we were all very high on Ajax’s chances, somehow, nobody actually selected them. And can you be right and wrong at the same time? Because in hindsight, that’s how the Manchester United prediction feels. Down the line now:

  • Chops: 6 of 8 (missed Ajax and Tottenham)
  • Everett: 6 of 8 (missed Ajax and Tottenham)
  • Cort: 6 of 8 (missed Porto and Ajax)

Lastly, almost by divine intervention, the draw shook out where the four universal favorites match up against the four underdogs. Will all chalk prevail? Does that ever really happen? There has to be an upset among the group, right? Do we all keep agreeing that Ajax is a great team and then not pick them? Let’s find out!

Match-Up

Chops

Tyler Everett Katya Gokhman Carl Cort
Liverpool vs. Porto Does Porto have one player who would make a combined starting XI in this match? Brahimi? Anyone? Liverpool advance to eventually shock Barca and have our hearts ripped out by City in the finals (Or will they? More on this shortly). I’m with Chops, Katya, and Cort here, and couldn’t put it better myself. Porto seems like by the far the weakest team left, and was lucky to get by Roma. Liverpool should win comfortably and move on. Porto, statistically, is the weakest of the bunch.  Liverpool, on the other hand, arguably has one of the strongest attacks in Europe with Mane and Salah at the helm.  I definitely think there will be an upset in the quarters but it won’t be in this match.

Prediction: Liverpool will be on to the semis.

With Liverpool’s attacking power and coming off a convincing win over Bayern, I really don’t see any surprises here.

Liverpool win convincingly

Barcelona vs. Manchester United Some of the glow is coming off OGS’ shine as United have been lucky and good since he took over (and now are regressing to just being good, which is still significantly better than they were with Mourinho). I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Lionel Messi is having the all-time best season of his all-time great career. Camp Nou? More like Camp Yes. (awful, I know). Barca advance. Barcelona has looked beatable at times since January, but is currently red-hot and — as we saw most recently against Lyon in the second leg — they have another gear that few teams can match. They’ll probably be without Ousmane Dembéle for both legs, and Luis Suárez’s status for the first leg at Old Trafford is up in the air. But Messi, even if he has to carry the load offensively — plus a solid defense and keeper — will be enough for Barça. The grit ManU has shown under OGS has been impressive, but Barcelona is too good. It also doesn’t hurt the Catalans — who are 10 points clear with 10 games left — they can basically sleepwalk through the rest of their domestic season. This is where my brain and heart start to part ways…

Brain: Messi is having a fantastic season and Barcelona is on top of La Liga once more.  After a 5-1 win against OL, they may not, necessarily, cruise through Manchester United, but they “should” end up on top.

Heart: Man. United has had their share of ups and downs this season.  Solskjaer has had a good start as the new coach at United but his roll seems to be slowing down.  HOWEVER, let’s not forget that this is still a team full of quality players such as Pogba, Rashford, Lingard, and Lukaku (hopefully, he will play despite his injury problems) to name a few.

Prediction: I’m going against the grain and making this my upset – Manchester United go through to the semis.

I shouldn’t even be mentioning United at this stage of the CL after that horrific late VAR decision against PSG– but unfortunately I am.

I am now glad to say that I will not see United in the next round as I believe with Barca’s attacking ability they dismantle United at the back convincingly.

Ajax vs. Juventus Despite what the oddsmakers say, this really is the closest match-up. Ajax is playing with house money now, and Juve has all the pressure. But still, Ronaldo. Heart says Ajax, mind says Juventus. Like Chops said, we liked Ajax versus Real Madrid, but not enough to pull the trigger and call the upset. Going to be bolder this time and go for it. It’s hard to unsee how confident and bold the Dutch club was against RM. They strike me as too young to tense up or know better than to play loose. Don’t ask me how they keep CR7 in check, but I think Matthijs de Ligt and Co. will enjoy (another) coming-out party — for anyone who’s not aware of them already — and pull off another stunner. Ajax is a great looking young team and, after their recent performances, they’re extremely confident and motivated.  Juventus is feeling pretty good as well – especially Ronaldo (when is he not feeling pretty good though?). I think this will be an amazing game to watch and it could honestly go both ways.  However, I think Juventus’ wisdom and experience will prevail and carry them through. I’m all for teams who “play the game the right way” as they say.  And it’s good to see that Ajax are getting good results behind that. This is going to be a very enjoyable close game to watch but it’s really hard for me to go against CR7. Along with CR7 and the experience of the Juve team– I see Juventus  advancing.
Manchester City vs. Tottenham It would be difficult to describe how much I despise Manchester City. But let me try! Take what Bryan Mills, John Wick, and Andy Dufresne feel about their respective antagonists, square it, multiple it by 10, and you’re in the ballpark. Keep in mind, Newcastle have more of a proud and legitimate history than City (shout out to Cort!). City are basically the kids whose rich celebrity parents  just got bought them into college as “crew team” recruits. Anyway, Tottenham and City play each other three times in 11 days. I believe Tottenham will win one of those three, and since one of those is a home match in their new stadium during the quarterfinals, I’m going against every fiber of common sense I have and saying that Spurs score enough at home to white-knuckle a semifinal trip and ruin City’s shot at a Quadruple. By the way, the last 7 sentences are precisely why I rarely ever bet. Not feeling nearly as bold about this one. Like Barcelona, City’s ceiling is so ridiculously high that even if they’re only at their best for a brief stretch, it will be enough. I’ve thought about the possibility of an upset by Tottenham, but then I think…nah.  No way will Pep let that happen. Pep has been building up this team since he got to Man. City in 2016.  It looks as if, Man. City is finally at the level that Pep has been striving for with them. After destroying Schalke 7-0, I think they are not likely to slow down. I think Tottenham are technically good enough to cause City problems. One of the reason why I think Tottenham will fall short is mentally I don’t believe they’re strong enough which they’ve proven many times in the past, crunch time they always crumble.

The other reason is more obvious: City have great depth and are very well equipped to go the whole way

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