New High Press Pod is up–and it’s a fun one!
Joining High Press Soccer site-runner Chops at first is contributing writer Tyler Everett. They discuss the Tottenham miracle at Ajax (1:00) and what the future could look like for the Dutch club.
Then at 16:00 minutes, Gluten Free Charles joins Chops and Tyler to discuss Liverpool (obv), who was the Red’s MVPs when singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with Anfield, who was Barcelona’s LVP, and closing with some initial, non-binding Champions League Final predictions.Listen to “High Press Pod Episode 5 – The UEFA Champions League Is Awesome” on Spreaker.
Matchday 38, again, really boils down two matches – and I think we all know what two matches those are. All eyes will be on Brighton vs Manchester City and Liverpool vs Wolves.
Matchday 38 Betting Lines Preview
All listed odds from May 9 on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ.
|Sunday, May 12|
|Burnley +220||Draw +270||Arsenal +110|
|Crystal Palace -115||Draw +290||Bournemouth +280|
|Manchester United -460||Draw +550||Cardiff +950|
|Leicester +175||Draw +250||Chelsea +145|
|Tottenham +115||Draw +240||Everton +240|
|Southampton -260||Draw +380||Huddersfield +700|
|Brighton +1300||Draw +700||Manchester City -650|
|Fulham +150||Draw +250||Newcastle +170|
|Watford +115||Draw +270||West Ham +210|
|Liverpool -320||Draw +450||Wolves +750|
Odds & Ends
- Let’s start with the team projected to win the Premier league – Manchester City. Manchester City (-650) will be taking on Brighton (+1300) away at the AMEX this Sunday. The odds say it all and so do the standings – while Manchester City sit in 1st place with -850 odds to win the Premier League, Brighton sit 17th in the league.
- However, interestingly, Brighton’s odds have dropped this week. They were over +3000 / +2000 on some sites (and for the most part, still are +2000 in England). However, in the US they’re +1300 on FanDuel and +1700 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Is Brighton seeing a flood of hopeful Liverpool fans after their epic comeback over Barcelona?
- One half of the 2019 UEFA Champions League finalists, Liverpool (-320), take on Wolves (+750) at home Sunday. One can’t help but wonder if Klopp will now be more focused on building his team up for the Champions League final rather than exhausting himself to win the Premier League title that seems to be out of reach. With that being said, Liverpool are on a roll and have no reason to slow down. Of the last 9 meetings with Wolves, Liverpool has won six, including the last four. What’s interesting, however, and conflicting somewhat with the previous bullet, is that despite Liverpool’s dramatic win over Barcelona, the public has not pushed them to any better odds of winning the Premier league – On Monday, the odds were +550 and they have stayed the same even after the win against Barcelona.
Just two games remain in La Liga. With the finish line 180 short minutes away, the race for fourth place and a spot in next year’s Champions League has a clear front-runner: Getafe.
No, not Valencia, Sevilla or any of Spain’s other far more well-known clubs. Instead, the little-known Madrid side is on the verge of its first trip to Europe’s top competition. With a three-point lead with two games to play – Getafe has 58 points, while Valencia and Sevilla are tied with 55 – Getafe is in the driver’s seat. However, they still have some work to do.
This weekend’s game against Barcelona will be much tougher than expected after the Catalans’ meltdown Tuesday at Anfield. Before that result, FiveThirtyEight gave Getafe a better-than-70% chance to finish fourth, which has since dropped to 60%, compared to 35% for Valencia and 5% for Sevilla. The analytics site currently gives Getafe a 15% chance to beat Barça and a 51% chance to knock off Villarreal in the season finale.
Valencia is favored in its last two games (71% chance to beat Alavés, 42% chance to defeat Valladolid). Sevilla is the underdog this weekend against Atlético Madrid (25% chance to win) but is favored to finish with a win over Athletic Bilbao (52%).
How did Getafe get here?
Getafe’s current advantage is no thanks to any sort of well-timed hot streak. The team’s record in its 11 games since March is just 5-4-2, which is far from dominant. Give them credit, however, for their consistency: the 19 points they’ve captured out of a possible 33 in that span (about 58%), is right in line with their play all season (58 points out of a possible 108 through 36 games). “Slightly above average” – which would also apply to the team’s goal differential of plus-15 – appears to be enough in this race, though.
Valencia (seven wins and 22 points) has only been a touch better since March, while Sevilla’s record over the same time is just 6-5 (18 points). FWIW, Getafe was the team leading this race the first time we broke it down here at HPS. If this seems like an underwhelming trio of candidates for an automatic berth in the UCL, it’s because it is – although Valencia being a Europa League semifinalist does help the optics of the Spanish league.
How does La Liga stack up with other leagues with four ’19-20 UCL spots?
In the Premier League, fourth-place — and UEFA Champions League finalists— Spurs already have 70 points through 37 matches, with one more remaining. This is despite a late-season swoon domestically. The Bundesliga’s race for fourth place features teams with similar point totals to Getafe’s. With two games to play, fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt has 54 points, but that’s through just 32 games. The other league with four automatic spots in next year’s UCL, Serie A, will likely be represented by Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan and Atalanta. The latter of that group has 62 points and a goal differential of plus-28 through 35 games.
It’s hard to defend Ligue 1 when PSG, which flames out of the UCL every year, is 16 points clear. But it’s worth mentioning that the French league’s second, third and fourth place teams have all been solid domestically, with over 60 points. That’s probably due to how poor the rest of the league is, but it’s one more factor that makes the possibility of La Liga’s fourth automatic qualifier finishing with just over 60 points in 38 games a bad look.
Coming soon: a closer look at La Liga’s fourth UCL qualifier
This article was initially conceived as an introduction to Getafe’s style and key players, but we’ll save that for if and when they lock up a spot. A Getafe loss to Barcelona would open the door to this race featuring a three-way tie going into the final matchday of the La Liga season next weekend. In the event that someone other than Getafe takes fourth in Spain, that team will get plenty of coverage here at High Press Soccer.
- Who: LA Galaxy vs NYCFC
- When: Saturday, May 11th at 4:00pm ET
- Where to Watch: Dignity Health Sports Park and live on ESPN
- Odds: LA Galaxy +105 | Draw +270 | NYCFC +230
On a pleasant Tuesday morning at their bucolic suburban New York training center, New York City FC squeezed in one final practice session before flying cross country to face LA Galaxy and its outsize striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Saturday afternoon.
The mood mirrored the surroundings. With NYCFC riding a string of positive results, no one seemed unduly concerned about the team’s impending clash with the 7W-2L-1D Galaxy.
Which is not to say that New York is downplaying the task ahead of them. In fact, despite facing L.A. for the first time with Ibrahimovic in the fold, New York is better acquainted with the superstar than most MLS teams.
Zlatan a familiar foe for NYCFC
“I have good memories from Barcelona, this player because I worked one year with him (and) it’s my opinion Ibra is one of the best strikers in the last 20 years.”
Both coach Dominic Torrent and fullback/wingback Anton Tinnerholm have professional experience with and against the towering L.A. striker. Torrent, who has spent most of his career as Pep Guardiola’s loyal lieutenant, worked with Ibrahimovic at Barcelona as an assistant coach. While things famously did not work out between Guardiola and Ibrahimovic at Barcelona, Torrent chose to focus on the positives Tuesday afternoon. Said Torrent:
“I have good memories from Barcelona, this player because I worked one year with him (and) it’s my opinion Ibra is one of the best strikers in the last 20 years. For me (he) is amazing. Everybody knows how important this player is in the world, not in just L.A. It is always impossible to mark this player because he has quality feet, he has the quality to attack the spaces, keep the ball and score, assist. Now repeat, I’m very happy to meet again with this player because I have good memories in Barcelona.”
Zlatan will see another familiar face when LA. line up against NYC Saturday afternoon: former Sweden teammate Anton Tinnerholm.
Tinnerholm has just nine international caps, but the New York fullback/wingback recalled on Tuesday that, “I played against him a couple of times and I played with him in the national team, so I know how good he is.”
New York’s 2018 Defender of the Year, Tinnerholm is playing some of the best soccer he has played since coming over to MLS prior to last season, and when he was first asked about facing his countryman, the 28-year-old tried to play it cool.
“I played against a couple of other Swedes in the league but to be honest, I look more forward to get three points,” Tinnerholm said, before opening up just a bit. “But of course, he is the best player ever Sweden had, so of course it’s going to be fun to play against him.”
Sands appears fit for Saturday
New York recently made a much-ballyhooed switch from a back four to a three back/five back (possession dependent) formation. That new look will be put to the test against LA and Ibra.
We will have to wait and see who will be manning those positions, but Torrent appeared optimistic that his 18-year-old mainstay James Sands will return after missing one game with an abductor muscle injury. To these untrained eyes, Sands looked to be moving well while training with the injured/recovering group on Tuesday and Torrent’s comments only reinforced that impression.
“He’s much better,” the coach said of Sands, adding, “Jimmy maybe can play against L.A. Mata (Matarita) is a doubt, and Maxie (Moralez) and Eber, I don’t know in the moment because today they have a medical test. But Jimmy has more possibilities to play.”
Whether Torrent will pit the youngster straight up on Ibra is another question. It may be worth noting that the NYCFC coach said of Sands, “he can play, you know, in the center back and he can play the double six. We have to decide in the last one.”
Is stopping Zlatan the key to stopping Galaxy’s attack?
Watching the Galaxy against the New York Red Bulls last weekend, it became apparent that while “one trick pony” might be harsh, L.A. did seem very reliant on Ibrahimovic for goals, as his nine goals in eight games played would attest.
So, High Press Soccer put the question to his old teammate Tinnerholm, “Stop Ibrahimovic, stop the Galaxy?”
“Yeah, of course, he’s the most important player for LA,” Tinnerholm began. “So we have to handle him in a good way. So that’s the most important. Like I said before, we haven’t had any (team) meetings yet.”
With three days between Tuesday’s practice session and Saturday, NYCFC will surely work on a plan to slow the Galaxy’s Swedish superstar. As Tinnerholm put it, “we’re going to look at some clips and see what we what we can do. But I think it’s up to us. If we keep the ball in the team like we did the last couple of games they’re not going to have the ball as much.”
Tinnerholms words seem logical, “they can’t create as many chances, so we feel we do what we can do the best. Then we’re gonna get a win.”