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August 29, 2019

High Press Pod: UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw Live Reaction, Plus Liverpool’s Bracket

Chops August 29, 2019
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The latest High Press Soccer Podcast is a fun one. Tyler Everett joins Chops for live reactions as the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Draw unfolded. Who has it tough? Who has it easy? And what the hell was going on with Eric Cantona?

Listen below via Spreaker or subscribe and download at iTunes.

Topics covered include:

  • Tyler’s totally fair and balanced fandom of Ajax and their qualification (1:00)
  • Chops trying to explain to Tyler how the pots and the draw works (3:00)
  • Chops over-analyzing Alisson’s walking and gait as he received his UEFA Goalkeeper award (9:30)
  • The draw begins! What do we think? (10:00)
  • Going off on Manchester City getting another easy draw (27:00)
  • How bad Group G is (37:15)
  • Our picks for how advances (47:30)
  • Then Gluten Free Charles joins to talk Liverpool’s draw (50:20)

 

Listen to “High Press Pod Episode 22: UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw Live Reaction + Liverpool’s Bracket” on Spreaker.

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Winner Odds: Who You Got?

High Press 10 August 29, 2019

The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League ground round is set!

Manchester City yet again have the easiest path to the knockout round.🤔How does that always seem to happen?

The proverbial “Group of Death” features Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, and Inter Milan.

Reigning champs Liverpool probably like their chances to win their group. Reigning runner-up Tottenham…not as much.

What do oddsmakers think?

2019-20 UEFA Champions League odds of winning group

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We’ll list odds of advancing and match odds as they come. Also, if you haven’t checked out the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League title odds, do so now. It’s also worth looking at the full 2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Draw results.

GroupWinner Odds
Group A
Real Madrid-118
PSG+100
Galatasaray+4500
Club Brugge+5000
Group B
Bayern Munich-215
Tottenham+180
Olympiakos+3000
Red Star Belgrade+3500
Group C
Manchester City-2500
Atalanta+1300
Shakhtar Donetsk+1700
Dinamo+3500
Group D
Juventus -167
Atlético Madrid+175
Bayer Leverkusen+900
Lokomotiv Moscow+5000
Group E
Liverpool-286
Napoli+250
Red Bull Salzburg+1700
Genk+2700
Group F
Barcelona-305
Borussia Dortmund+350
Inter Milan+700
Slavia Praha+6000
Group G
RB Leipzig+130
Lyon+235
Benfica+375
Zenit St Petersburg+500
Group H
Chelsea-125
Valencia+300
Ajax+325
Lille+1100

What do the odds tell us?

Well, Man City is definitely advancing. Their -2500 to win the group makes them by far the biggest favorite.

The second best odds to win their bracket is “Group of Death” inhabitants Barcelona at -305. Liverpool are certainly favored, but not by as much as you’d expect, at just -286.

The weakest bracket, Group G, has their Pot 4 squad as the favorites. RB Leipzig are +130 to win the group. Maybe it’s time to rethink giving the Russian federation an automatic Pot 1 spot? Despite being in Group G, Zenit St Petersburg are the longshot to win at +500.

Ajax still isn’t getting respect. Watch to see if they keep all of their starting XI past September 2nd, but if they do, that +325 to win Group H is great value.

Where to Bet on Champions League in the US

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In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

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2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Stage Pairings: Toughest and Easiest Paths

Chops August 29, 2019
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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw is all set. Club reps and players arrived in Monaco today for the draw and player awards.

Will Liverpool make it three finals in a row? Can Manchester City avoid bottling in the quarters again (we all know they’ll miraculously get the easiest draw through though)? Do Real Madrid and Bayern Munich re-establish their European dominance?

It all starts today.

Here are the pairings. Check back soon for our thoughts on the toughest and easiest groups. Expect a podcast on it all later today as well.

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

GroupPot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
Group APSGReal MadridClub BruggeGalatasaray
Group BBayern MunichTottenham Olympiacos Red Star Belgrade
Group CManchester CityShakhtar DonetskDinamoAtalanta
Group DJuventusAtletico MadridBayer LeverkusenLokomotiv Moscow
Group ELiverpoolNapoliRed Bull Salzburg Genk
Group FBarcelonaBorussia Dortmund Inter MilanSlavia Prague
Group GZenitBenficaLyonRB Leipzig
Group HChelseaAjaxValenciaLille

Toughest Group

With Barcelona, BVB, and Inter Milan in Group F, that’s an easy choice.

Easiest Group

I mean, FFS with City already. How do they always manage to get a cake walk? Oh, wait…

The “These games are only available on B/R Live for $2.99 group”

That’d be Group G.

The “If a group falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?”

That’s also Group G.

The “Wait this is an evenly matched secretly fun group”

That is Group H.

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Title Odds (UPDATED)

High Press 10 August 29, 2019

Qualification for the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is underway.

Teams who did not receive automatic Champions League Group Stage entry via their 2018-19 domestic league finish are playing the second of three qualifying rounds right now. Teams who survive the three qualifying rounds then compete in a playoff.

The playoff draw takes place on August 5th. The winner of the playoff games are then entered into Group Stage pots. At that point, qualification ends. The Group Stage draw will take place in late August with games beginning in September.

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Title Odds

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The following are 2019-20 UEFA Champions League title odds.

Some real movement in the odds since the Group Stage draw results occurred. With another cakewalk to the knockout rounds, Manchester City improve from +450 to +300. The “Group of Death” didn’t hurt Barcelona (they actually moved from +600 to +500), but Borussia Dortmund (+3300 to +4000) and Inter Milan (+5000 to +6000) fell. RB Leipzig’s early season form and winnable group sees their odds leap from +8000 to +5000. Lyon also gets a Group G bump from +12500 to +6000.

Will continue to update this page as odds change throughout the year.

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Odds (August 28, 2019)

Manchester City +300 Barcelona +500 Liverpool +700
Real Madrid +1000 Bayern Munich +1100 Juventus +1100
PSG +1100 Atlético Madrid +2100 Tottenham +2300
Chelsea +2700 Borussia Dortmund +4000 RB Leipzig +5000
Napoli +6000 Inter +6000  Lyon +6000 
Valencia +8000 Ajax +8000   Atalanta +10000
Benfica +10000  Bayer Leverkusen +15000 Zenit St. Petersburg +20000
Lille +30000 Shakhtar Donetsk +35000 Red Bull Salzburg +40000
Galatasaray +60000 Genk +60000 Dinamo +60000
Red Star Belgrade +60000 Club Brugge +75000 Olympiakos +75000

Where to Bet on Champions League in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook.

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What are the 2019-20 Champions League Group Stage Brackets?

A total of 32 teams are split into 8 groups of 4. The top 2 teams from each group advance to the knockout round. 

GroupPot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4
Group APSGReal MadridClub BruggeGalatasaray
Group BBayern MunichTottenham Olympiacos Red Star Belgrade
Group CManchester CityShakhtar DonetskDinamoAtalanta
Group DJuventusAtletico MadridBayer LeverkusenLokomotiv Moscow
Group ELiverpoolNapoliRed Bull Salzburg Genk
Group FBarcelonaBorussia Dortmund Inter MilanSlavia Prague
Group GZenitBenficaLyonRB Leipzig
Group HChelseaAjaxValenciaLille

 

The Alluring Carlos Vela-Zlatan Ibrahimovic Dichotomy

Avatar August 29, 2019

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic trashes MLS and proclaims himself the greatest, most of the league can only look at him and shrug. He destroys most teams, and he is the LA Galaxy’s entire system. His accomplishments outside of MLS dwarf pretty much everyone else’s.

Only one player in MLS can reasonably look up at Zlatan and claim to be the superior player right now: LAFC’s Carlos Vela, the best player in the league and probably the greatest MLS has ever seen.

Vela heads an LAFC team running away with the league right now, on pace to finish with easily the best regular season in league history. He’s scored 27 goals and 15 assists through 26 games, an insane tally. To put his total in perspective, Sebastian Giovinco’s 2015 season was previously considered the gold standard of all-around MLS attacking seasons, and he only managed 22g and 16a in 400 more minutes.

Zlatan, who has nowhere near the assists that Vela has, is behind the Mexican in goals, though he still has 22 this season. Vela has more positive influence in general, creating chances by cutting inside on his left foot and aiding more in general possession and defense than Zlatan does. The Galaxy hit tons of low-percentage crosses in the direction of their superstar, inhibiting their attack. Galaxy players sometimes play tentatively in fear of upsetting the volatile Zlatan, who has a habit of ripping into his teammates. Ibra plays no defense. Vela only props up his team, and has no such defensive issues.

While the gap between Vela and Zlatan is widening, it is clear that the two are comfortably ahead of the rest of the league, with all due respect to Josef Martinez. No one can match the gravity that the two provide on the field, and their quality on the ball is unmatched. They both would be stars in pretty much any league in the world.

LA Galaxy – LAFC rivalry heightens Vela-Zlatan tensions

The Vela-Zlatan reign over the league is fascinating in itself, but the matchup of the two in El Trafico enhances it all. LA-LAFC is by far the league’s best rivalry. It is the playoff matchup everyone wants. Every game between them feels like a championship. Zlatan owns LAFC, given his incredible record of goals in those rivalry game. The fact that LAFC have never beaten the Galaxy, despite always being the better team, drives some of the intensity. Zlatan’s epic dominance adds more layers.

Enjoy any chance you get to see those teams play, because it’s going to be hard to recreate this rivalry. They won’t play again in this regular season, but we can hope and pray for a playoff match-up, and by all indications we should be seeing another Vela vs. Zlatan round next season.

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MLS’s version of Messi vs Ronaldo

These El Trafico games are MLS’s version of the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo match-ups that used to happen in La Liga. It’s the two clear best players starring for two bitter rivals, playing highly competitive and intense games. Vela is Messi, the Latin American maestro who has a magic left foot and scores heaps of goals despite playing as a creative right winger. Zlatan is Ronaldo, the physically-imposing striker with deceptively soft feet and an incredible ability to score in any situation.

The left-footed maestros remain a good couple of miles ahead of the goal-happy strikers, but the distance between the strikers and the third-best overall player (in MLS, in Zlatan’s case, and in the world, for Ronaldo) is a wide, wide distance. These comparisons are easy to make: Ronaldo and Zlatan are arrogant and polarizing, attempting to look down on a smaller-stature, yet superior, star. Messi and Vela are more introverted and do considerably less chest-thumping than their larger-than-life counterparts.

The comparisons are perfect. Battles between great players, and a chance to see them on the same field, can be rare. We will hopefully get to enjoy more Vela-Zlatan battles, just as we saw the two greatest soccer players of all time go at it for years.

An MLS best XI at this point in the season

Finally, if Ibra and Vela are the clear top two in the league right now, it’s worth noting who the best of the rest are too. Here’s the best XI in the MLS to date. Expect a full post with detailed explanation on the best XI once the season ends.

Pulisic, McKennie, Steffen In. Altidore, Bradley, Nagbe Out. Gregg Berhalter Releases USMNT 26 Man Roster for Mexico, Uruguay Friendlies

Peter Nolan August 29, 2019

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Ahead of a pair high profile and highly challenging friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter released his 26 man roster today.  The US manager followed up the release with a phone press conference.

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, and a returning John Brooks headline the squad.

In selecting this roster, Berhalter had to balance Major League Soccer’s policy of playing through the international break. The former Columbus Crew boss made it clear that he is none too pleased with the situation, saying he’s “disappointed with MLS choosing to play in the FIFA window.”

Berhalter noted that he did not call in Toronto threesome Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Omar Gonzalez because TFC is facing two matches during the international break. That second Toronto match seemed to govern Berhalter’s decision to leave the TFC players behind while selecting several other MLS players with conflicts. For example, NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson will miss the team’s September 7th match versus New England.

Berhalter was also asked to clarify the Darlington Nagbe situation. Or more specifically: did the Atlanta midfielder turn down an opportunity to be included in this roster as well as the Gold Cup squad?

After speaking of his admiration for Nagbe as a player, the coach turned Artful Dodger for this one. Berhalter declined to reveal the details of private conversations, while also speaking broadly on the subject of any player’s dedication to the team.

While stressing that he was not speaking about Nagbe, Berhalter noted “that he (Berhalter) is not the type of guy that says you’re done,” meaning that Nagbe or any player could be welcomed back into the team, because he takes, “every case on an individual basis.”

So, who did Berhalter select? Front and center are young guns Josh Sargent, Sergino Dest of Ajax, and Paxton Pomykal of FC Dallas. The  latter pair were teammates on the recent U.S. U20 World Cup team that impressed in getting to the quarterfinal before falling to Ecuador 2-1.

Sargent impressed for Werder Bremen in the preseason but has struggled for playing time once the Bundesliga campaign began. Berhalter is hoping that Sargent can recapture some of the preseason momentum.

Pomykal has had a breakout season for FCD while Dest has been seeing time at both fullback positions for the 2018 Champions League semifinalists in the Eredivisie.

From the sound of Berhalter’s remarks, Dest is the more likely of the two to see the field over the two friendlies. The coach expressed a willingness to play the Dutch/American on either flank, as Ajax have done. That versatility may make it easier to get the 18 year-old on the pitch, with Berhalter saying he is, “really intrigued by how he (Dest) sees the game.”

As for Pomykal, the coach made it sound as though the Dallas man was in for a look-see, saying he wants to see, “how he (Pomykal) copes with the demands of the national team setup.”

Another young player to get a look is Miles Robinson, the Atlanta center back of whom Berhalter says, “form pushed [him] into the team.”

Not as young, but in the same boat as Robinson is 29 year-old Alfredo Morales of Fortuna Dusseldorf. Of Morales, Berhalter said, “I feel really good about calling in a guy that’s playing really well for his team.”

USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (4): Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas; 0/0), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 60/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 8/0), Zack Steffen (Fortuna DĂĽsseldorf/GER; 15/0)

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 37/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 6/0), Sergiño Dest (Ajax/NED; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 7/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 11/2), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact/CAN; 8/0),) Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 35/1), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; 0/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 10/2)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 9/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 14/3), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna DĂĽsseldorf/GER; 13/0), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 15/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 19/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 1/0)

FORWARDS (6): Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 3/0), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas/TUR; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 33/5), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 31/13), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 7/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 51/10)

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