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September 26, 2019

HBO’s Diego Maradona Documentary: When It Airs and Critic Reviews

Tyler Everett September 26, 2019
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Though it seems like a new soccer documentary comes out every day, HBO’s Diego Maradona is shaping up as the best of the year.

At this point, any time you see the letters HBO in the same sentence as a name like Maradona’s, you can expect something pretty compelling. The film was directed by Academy Award-winning Asif Kapadia, the man behind hits Amy and Senna. As if those aren’t enough big names attached to this project, one of HBO’s executive producers was Bill Simmons.

When Does HBO’s Diego Maradona Documentary Premier?

HBO’s Diego Maradona documentary premiers next Tuesday, October 1st at 9 p.m. Eastern.

HBO Diego Maradona Trailer

Soccer fans tend to get excited every time Amazon or Netflix drops something, but the excitement for this one seems to transcend EPL and USMNT diehards. I personally can’t remember a trailer for a documentary ever getting as much hype as HBO did when it released the one below a couple weeks ago.

What does the Diego Mardona documentary cover?

 

As for the story itself, in case you’re unfamiliar with Maradona, he’s a, um, fairly interesting and accomplished former Argentine soccer player with an incredible story — he’s admitted to what we’ll call an incredible amount of partying during his heyday, and many consider him the best footballer of all time.

Kapadia’s film focuses on Maradona’s tumultuous time in Serie A with Napoli. This period is both a professional high-point for Maradona and a personal, uh, high-point for the Argentine. Cocaine use really became a problem for Diego during this time. It’ll be a fascinating character study of an all-time great talent.

HBO’s Diego Maradona Critic Reviews

If you believe what’s been said and written since it debuted at Cannes earlier this year, “Diego Maradona” will have you glued to your TV next Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern, when it airs on HBO. The doc is currently also in select theaters.

We won’t say too much else here besides linking below to a couple reviews, and one podcast appearance by Kapadia, for anyone looking to read or listen to more on the doc before they tune in.

And stay tuned to High Press Soccer next week, where we’ll have plenty of coverage.

CNN: Diego Maradona: ‘There’s some sort of cry for help going on there,’ says filmmaker

N.Y. Times: ‘Diego Maradona’ Review: A Soccer Player Who Got His Kicks

Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl had a great interview with Kapadia on his Planet Fútbol podcast

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Matchday 2 Game Lines

High Press 10 September 26, 2019

We’re less than a week away from the next round of 2019-20 UEFA Champions League group stage matches.

While the first matchday had us re-evaluating some teams (and oddsmakers overreacting to others), overall it’s mostly status quo. The teams who were 2019-20 UEFA Champions League title favorites barely moved.

Any more slip-ups though, particularly by Liverpool, Juventus, or Barcelona, and that may change. Here are a look at the next batch of group stage lines.

2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group Stage Game Lines

HOMEDATEAWAY
Tuesday, October 1st
Real Madrid -500Draw +600Club Brugge +1250
Atalanta +105Draw +265Shakhtar Donetsk +260
Red Star Belgrade +205Draw +235Olympiakos +140
Galatasaray +825Draw +400PSG -286
Manchester City -1250Draw +1050Dinamo Zagreb +2500
Juventus -215Draw +330Bayer Leverkusen +650
Tottenham +190Draw +280Bayern Munich +125
Locomotiv Moscow +480Draw +250Atletico Madrid -148
Wednesday, October 2nd
Genk +550Draw +385Napoli -225
Slavia Prague +325Draw +300Borussia Dortmund -129
Barcelona -200Draw +350Inter +510
Valencia +125Draw +255Ajax +210
Lille +255Draw +245Chelsea +110
Liverpool -260Draw +500Red Bull Salzburg +900
Zenit St Petersburg +135 Draw +240Benfica +205
RB Leipzig -143Draw +310Lyon +360

Odds & Ends

  • The lack of oddsmaker respect for Ajax at this point is almost comical. Of every single UCL fixture this coming matchday, they are the only one where FiveThirtyEight has them as a probability favorite to win and oddsmakers have them as an underdog. Ajax is the better team. Grab their long odds.
  • Monitor the Messi groin injury closely. If he doesn’t play, which is the most likely scenario at this point, Inter pulling out a draw or win (+510!!!) seems much more likely than the Catalans cruising to victory.
  • Red Bull Salzburg just put 6 past Genk. Liverpool lost away to Napoli. Should Erling Braut Haland and co. really be +900 at Anfield? Yes. Yes they should.
  • Has Chelsea shown anything at all this season that would give you confidence they can defeat Lille on the road? Chelsea’s youth makes them a minute-by-minute inconsistent rollercoaster. That +245 draw seems like a fair play.

Previewing La Liga Matchday 7: Atlético Madrid Hosts Real Madrid In The Biggest Game Of The Year and Barcelona Deals With Another Messi Injury

Tyler Everett September 26, 2019

Who: Atlético Madrid vs Real Madrid
When: Saturday, September 28th @ 03:00pm ET
LineAtletico Madrid +140 | Draw +225 | Real Madrid +200

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With all due respect to last week’s Real Madrid-Sevilla showdown, matchday 7 in La Liga gives us our first truly marquee matchup of the season. Real Madrid (+200), fresh off two reassuring wins to put the UCL-opening disaster vs. PSG in the rearview mirror, travels to Wanda Metropolitano to take on rival Atlético Madrid (+130) on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

That is the clear headliner of this week’s slate, but if you thought we weren’t going to talk about Barcelona and how they’ll look without Lionel Messi at Getafe on Saturday at 10 a.m., lo siento.

Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid: Crosstown rivals trending (mostly) in opposite directions

But back to Zinedine Zidane vs. Diego Simeone.

After El Clásico, this is the biggest rivalry in Spain, and one of the best in Europe. When these two teams meet, it’s must-see TV, regardless of where they are in the standings. Under these circumstances (RM alone in first place with 14 points, and ATM just one point behind them), this is easily the best match of the week in not only Spain, but across Europe – sorry, Manchester United vs Arsenal, although that one should be interesting, too.

Just a week ago, it seemed hard to imagine Atleti needing a win worse than RM here. Atleti stormed out of the gates this year, with nine points from its first three games. Meanwhile, Real Madrid entered last weekend coming off a brutal showing in Paris in the Champions League.

Los Rojiblancos have struggled  in three of their last four matches, losing 2-0 to Real Sociedad on September 14, drawing Juve (2-2) on September 18 and drawing Celta Vigo (0-0) last weekend before beating Mallorca 2-0 on Wednesday.

After the embarrassing 3-0 loss to PSG last week, RM responded with a 1-0 win at Sevilla in what was quietly the most impressive domestic result by Barcelona, RM or Atleti through six games. Los Blancos then handled Osasuna at home on Wednesday.

Zinedine Zidane rested a number of key players in that matchup, including Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema. They’ll be the fresher team, as Atleti largely stuck to its best XI vs. Mallorca. Let’s also note here that Real Madrid was dominant in a match in which both goals came from Brazilian teenagers (Vinicius in the 36th and Rodrygo in the 72nd).

Real Madrid is in a bad way at left-back, though, without either Marcelo or Ferland Mendy. The good news for RM last weekend was that they shut out Sevilla for their first clean sheet of the season. The bad news was that Mendy got hurt. With the young Frenchman and Marcelo out, Zidane started Nacho vs. Osasuna.

The question is whether João Félix and Diego Costa — who both scored on Wednesday — can take advantage of the injuries to Marcelo and Mendy against an opponent that has recorded back-to-back shutouts. Álvaro Morata would be another quality option, but he got himself sent off late against Mallorca and will not be available on Saturday.

Along with Félix, it will be fascinating to see how RM Eden Hazard looks in his first taste of the Madrid derby. Hazard is yet to make a splash for his new team. Madridistas could hardly dream up a better scenario than a trip to Wanda Metropolitano for the Belgian’s first big performance under Zidane.

Barcelona (once again) without Messi

Now, let’s talk about the most scrutinized lower body on the continent, in case Lionel Messi’s health hasn’t been enough of a topic so far this year. Tuesday against Villarreal was his first start of the season, and it didn’t take the Argentine long to have an impact. His corner, and Antoine Griezmann’s finish, for his team’s opener in the 6th, offered a glimpse at what should concern supporters of any team other than Barcelona.

But unfortunately for the Catalans, the postgame discussion was another round of questions: “How seriously is Messi hurt?” and “What will Ernesto Valverde’s team look like without him?”

While Valverde said that Messi didn’t play the second half for precautionary reasons after what the manager claimed was a tweak of his groin near the 30-minute mark, we’ll see about that this weekend when Barcelona (-125) heads to Getafe (+350). At this point, it would be a shock if Messi suits up, especially with a Champions League match against Inter Milan next Wednesday.

In addition to the concerns about Messi, Barcelona also is facing several other major questions.

To name a few:

  • When will Valverde figure out the best line-up for this roster?
  • What is going on with the defense, which has allowed the second-most goals (10) in the league after six matches?
  • Is Luis Suárez healthy and sharp enough to play up to his potential?
  • He has caused more problems for his own fans (he was booed/whistled at Camp Nou when he came off late in the Villarreal win) than the opponents since his two-goals-in-30-minutes outburst vs. Valencia on September 14. Suárez’s WhoScored rating in his last three games: 7.01 vs. Borussia Dortmund on Sept. 17, 5.91 vs. Granada last weekend and, most recently, 6.65 vs. Villarreal. Last year in domestic play, when he finished tied for second in the league with 21 goals, the analytics site rated him a 7.57.

Elsewhere in Spain

Athletic Bilbao has now drawn relegation candidates Mallorca (Sept. 13) and Leganés (Wednesday) in two of its last three games, but remains just two points out of first place. Can Athletic (+125) bounce back at home vs. Valencia (+230)?

Liverpool Player Ratings vs MK Dons: Youngsters Shine, Milner Dominates in Carabao Cup

Chops September 26, 2019

So, I wasn’t planning on doing a player ratings piece on Liverpool today. It’s the Carabao Cup (or as we call it in the non-existent High Press Soccer offices, the Caribou Coffee Cup). It’s against Detroit-based rapper third-tier MK Dons.

But then I started watching. And some of the youngsters really stood out. As did one of the oldsters.

There was a lot to learn from this 2-0 Liverpool win. Liverpool had so much possession (80% at HT and 78% by FT) that you got a great sense what certain players could do and accomplish moving forward.

Here’s a quick recap via Liverpool’s player ratings.

Liverpool Player Ratings vs MK Dons

Manager

Jurgen Klopp (8) –  Liverpool had a heavy summer schedule. Their stars need all the breaks they can get as they ramp up into November and especially an absolutely insane December schedule. Klopp had to rotate heavily this game.

He did well with the blend of young and old. There was just enough veteran savvy to steer the young lads during the match. It was good continued re-integration for Keita, Ox and Lallana. He did well getting the top prospects on the pitch. The confidence he’s showing in them will pay massive dividends years from now.

Goalkeeper

Caoimhin Kelleher (8) – Kelleher, who looks like he’s 14 (he’s 20), was a boss. Some big saves late. Almost stepped out of the box to bring in the ball against a charging Donner that would’ve proved costly, but was safe by inches. Kid has a future.

Defenders

Ki-Jana Hoever (8.5) – Embarrassment of riches for our backline. Hoever scored on a header, becoming the fourth Liverpool defender to tally a goal this season. He was pacy dribbling. He delivered two key passes, a couple of tackles, and an interception. My #YNWA friends all appreciate Lovren and feel he’s a great locker-room guy, but there’s no way Hoever doesn’t replace him on the first team by next season.

Joe Gomez (7) – Looked better offensively than defensively but was steady and solid. Some good dribbles up field and distribution. Was moved off the ball once Sam Nombe, but also contributed three good clearances.

Dejan Lovren (7) – Aside from one concentration lapse in the first half that almost led to a goal for MK, Lovren had a good showing. A few good clearances, a timely block, and a veteran presence that was much needed. It’d serve us well to see Lovren get more time throughout the year.

James Milner (9.5) – I mean, come on. Milner is like 60 years old and often looked like the fastest player on the pitch. He was easily the best. Yes, his goal was helped by MK Dons gk Stuart Moore’s absolute howler of a save, but Milly was a threat getting up the pitch and into the box all match. He should’ve had an assist on a wonderful completed dribble into the box that Elliott couldn’t tap in to finish. He did assist on the Hoever goal.

Milner as a left-back was responsible for 11.7% of the total match possession. He had a 93% pass success rate. He won three aerials and had three clearances. Milner had the most touches in the game. He was awesome. Was fun to watch that performance. It was nearly perfect.

Midfielders

Naby Keita (4) – On the other end of the spectrum from Milner was Keita. It’s good to see him back on the field. It’s not good to see him so un-impactful. Couple shots on goal. Literally contributed nothing defensively. He was rightfully the first Red subbed off.

Adam Lallana (7) – I really liked what I saw from Lallana in that #6-Fabinho role. He did well distributing, looking a little more offensively minded with his passes than Fab. Lallana had a couple of those old school penetrating dribbles. He’s not the defensive presence that Fabinho is but this defensive center-mid role could suit him well.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6) – Physically, he was fast and lively. He had one classic Ox moment with a laser strike that hit the post. Otherwise, still hasn’t found the consistency he had pre-injury. This was another positive step though to finding his form.

Forwards

Harvey Elliott (7) – Looked very much the part of a precocious 16 year-old talent. Now, the sitter that Milner delivered that Elliott hit off the top post my 12 year-old daughter would’ve finished. To be fair, she trains to lean in and finish those properly, but my strong hunch is that Elliott does too. He was strong with the ball at his feet. Showed good poise and a proper striker mentality of not letting a bad miss impact him. Hit the woodwork a second time and was unlucky not to score. Mixed some poor decision-making on passes with some great moments. He’s 16. He’s going to be awesome.

Rhian Brewster (4) – Did he even play? High hopes to see what Brewster would accomplish this match. Disappointing end result. Three shots but contributed nothing else offensively or defensively. Long ways to go if he’s going to earn some minutes from Roberto Firmino.

Curtis Jones (7) – I haven’t been to high on Jones from the preseason but really liked what I saw today. Good footwork. Does well in the final third. Very good showing.

Substitutions

Pedro Chirivella (6) – I’m as big of a Liverpool homer there is an I was like, “wait, who are we putting in again?” Came in for Keita in the 62nd and immediately looked the better player. That’s not good for Keita.

Herbie Kane (NR) – The 20 year-old got on the field late for Ox. Did nothing.

Sepp van den Berg (NR) – Came on in stoppage but recorded his official Liverpool debut in doing so.

MAN OF THE MATCH

James Milner – Can’t say enough about Milner’s performance. That was a joy to watch.

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