Chops is joined by Tyler Everett. Discussed:
- How right we were about Ajax and Bayern Munich.
- How lucky Real Madrid were to pull off a draw against Club Brugge.
- Liverpool’s entitled performance against Red Bull Salzburg and ultimately why it won’t matter cause they’re winning Group E.
- Barcelona and Luis Suarez show up!
- Where would Red Bull Salzburg be in the Premier League table if they played in England?
- Christian Pulisic’s struggles at Chelsea.
Manchester United fell to a terrible 1-0 loss to Newcastle United in the hunt to continue their horrible away winless streak. The Red Devils started as drably as they were in mid-week Europa League fixture against AZ Alkmaar, showing little inspiration going forward.
United had the lion’s share of possession(66%) in the first half, but Newcastle were much better in getting more chances. They were unlucky not to score, as Harry Maguire also scuffed a free header wide to rob his side of a fortunate lead.
Newcastle kept the visitors quiet and a thunderous counter-attack in the 72nd minute led to debutant Matthew Longstaff scoring a brilliant long-ranger to give his side the lead. United huffed and puffed, but were unable to create anything concrete, falling to another shameful away defeat. Liverpool next and things won’t get any better anytime soon. Here are the player ratings for the game.
Manchester United Player Ratings
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (4.0) –
For all his ramblings of promoting youth, Solskjaer is persistently trusting upon bygone oldies who offered no productivity. His United are shockingly tame going forward, look clueless creativity and even the good players are losing their touch. Unless he changes his tactics and mentality, things won’t get better any soon.
David de Gea (5.5) –
DDG’s distribution still isn’t the most convincing. Lucky to see Matty Longstaff’s long-range screamer hit the post in the 27th after he’d been beaten all ends up. However, he was unable to do anything when he struck a bullet into his bottom right corner in the 72nd to give Newcastle the lead.
Axel Tuanzebe (6.5) –
Tuanzebe’s second start in as many games, but he doesn’t seem fearful of the towering Joelinton’s threat. Kept the Brazilian quiet with persistent marking and tackling. Later moved to the right and retained his confident defensive solidity with timely challenges. A slight bright spark in United’s dark day.
Harry Maguire (6.0) –
Despite not having his regular partner, Maguire’s comfortable moving possession forward or clearing danger. Makes a brilliant block in the 38th to save a certain goal from Almiron. Heads a glorious scoring opportunity wide in the 45th. Should’ve scored that! Not doing so cost him, with Newcastle taking the win despite him being composed with defensive work.
Diogo Dalot (6.0)-
Getting his first Premier League start, Dalot looks ready for the challenge against the pacy Saint-Maxim. Gets one shot(read: attempted cross) on target in the 21st. Did a pretty good job keeping up with him and making timely challenges. Offered little going forward and worsened United’s situation by picking up an injury before the hour-mark.
Ashley Young (5.5) –
The nervy captain makes a promising start with an important block in the first minute. Regains his buffoon reputation with a botch minutes later. Was off and on with his delivery, but defensive frailty proved again tonight with another wonky showing.
Already looks all over the place. Made an unnecessary challenge to concede a free-kick in the early minutes and looks nervous with his distribution. Played it safe with predictable passes and overrun by Newcastle’s midfield. Scuffed a long-ranger over late on, summing up his evening.
Scott McTominay (5.0) –
Monday night’s hero looks a bit ruffled today. Lost the ball on different occasions in the first 15 minutes to allow Newcastle forward. However, he’s regained his urgent demeanor driving United forward. Frustrations led to a terrible challenge on Sean Longstaff to get booked at the half-hour mark.
Andreas Pereira (4.5) –
A fish out of water on the right-wing, the Brazilian is almost obsolete apart from a few recoveries. Moved towards the left later on and had an attempted curler saved in the 41st. Horribly played Williems onside leading up to the goal.
Marcus Rashford (3.0) –
Rashford’s showing signs of the known pace, but unable to get into any promising position behind Newcastle’s packed backline. Almost looked uninterested at points with shoddy movement and offered very little in terms of penetrativeness. He showed no signs of even being a centre-forward with another invisible showing.
Daniel James (4.5) –
Unusually weary in possession. James isn’t being able to find space to move forward and being countered by Newcastle’s deep defence. Kept mostly quiet, but had a promising cross in the 70th scraped clear by Schar. The bad form is starting to affect his game as well.
Juan Mata (4.0)–
Playing at his preferred #10 role, Mata hasn’t shown any signs of creativity in the early phase of the game. Moved into pockets of space throughout, but offered little in terms of killer-passes required. Another drab showing.
Marcos Rojo (5.5) –
The Argentine was unable to do anything for the goal, but had a header scrap over the bar in the 75th. Booked minutes later for a typically unnecessary aggressive challenge.
Mason Greenwood (6.0) –
The 17-year-old automatically lifted his side’s attack by displaying his natural striking attributes. Laid in a clever ball to send Young through in the 69th, but saw it horrible wasted. Tried powering a frail cross into goal in the 85th, only to see it collected.
Tahith Chong (N/A) –
Came on very late on and unable to do anything about the scoreline.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Tuanzebe was probably United’s best player with his defensive solidity, but nobody from the Red Devils really deserves MOTM today.
Who’s looking in better or worse shape than we thought to lift the trophy next May?
It’s very early. We’ve had two matchdays. It’s the group stages and one would expect all these teams to make it to the knockout rounds, where anything can happen if the draw goes your way.
Nonetheless, there is a sense of which sides are on the up or down, who looks stronger or weaker than one might have expected. Looking at the eight teams that bookmakers most favour to win the tournament (apologies to the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Ajax), let’s see who’s stock has risen or fallen since before a ball was kicked.
Champions League Risers
Manchester City (+333)
Crisis? What crisis?
There were real concerns about Pep Guardiola’s defence against Norwich. These concerns have not entirely been answered. There may still be another bad day in this squad. But damn. When they’re good, they’re unstoppable.
In all competitions, the last five fixtures have a combined scoreline of 19-1 to City. In that period, they have taken more than three shots for every one the opponent attempts. Centre-back remains a huge concern, with John Stones joining Aymeric Laporte on the injury list. But it’s a question as to whether teams can even get the ball into dangerous areas to test those defenders. Guardiola’s side are the team to beat in this season’s Champions League.
Bayern Munich (+900)
For all that we love to discuss managers, coaching methods, formations, pressing, possession football and the rest, sometimes the most important thing is just the talent of the players. Niko Kovač might not be the most exciting manager in the world, but the talent he has at his disposal is as deep as it gets.
Philippe Coutinho, for all his tactical issues at Barcelona, remains one of the best ball dominant playmakers around, while Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard have added more flexibility at the back. They probably don’t have the high end quality of Manchester City, or an individual star like Lionel Messi, but over a long season, no one has the depth of Bayern. That could be enough.
Paris Saint-Germain (+700)
The thing about PSG is that the big names haven’t even played that much this season. Neymar hasn’t kicked a ball in the Champions League yet. Kylian Mbappe played for half an hour against Galatasaray. And yet, Thomas Tuchel keeps winning.
Idrissa Gueye has arrived from Everton and seems to have become a world class midfielder overnight. This is not, as many might assume, a team of galacticos across the pitch. This is a team of a few incredible individuals and a manager getting the rest to play out of their minds. The arrival of Gueye and Ander Herrera should help them toughen up against top European sides. The blend could finally be right this year.
Atletico Madrid (+2100)
It doesn’t matter who is playing. It doesn’t matter who gets sold. Diego Simeone gets his team playing the same way regardless.
You could put Messi, Neymar, Mbappe and Eden Hazard in this team and Simeone would still have them forming a compact shape behind the ball. Atleti have kept four clean sheets in a row now. Playing against this side must be a deeply miserable experience.
It’s not always pretty, they probably won’t be your first choice if you’re looking for a group stage game to watch on a given Tuesday or Wednesday, but it just works. Diego Simeone may be a loose canon, but dammit, he gets results!
Champions League Fallers
Now, this might be a little harsh of me. After all, Liverpool sit five points clear atop the Premier League table, having won every game this season bar the poor defeat at Napoli. But it looks a little shaky.
Understat have Jurgen Klopp’s side conceding more than an expected goal a game in the league. The team have decided to play a higher line, in the hope of a more aggressive offside trap, but the main effect seems to be that Virgil van Dijk is getting exposed a little more easily.
Maybe this all just shakes itself out over the season. Liverpool will probably be fine. But questions exist that didn’t at the start of the season. The five point lead is hugely value domestically, but in terms of winning the Champions League, it hasn’t been a great start.
Perhaps the Turin side are starting to fix things? The move to a diamond formation, with Aaron Ramsey as a number ten behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, has loosened things up a bit in attack. It’s still a long way from what we think of as an ideal Maurizio Sarri side, but this was always going to be the case.
The project Juventus are embarking on is such a dramatic break from the eras of Max Allegri and Antonio Conte that it was always likely to take time. Right now, it’s a bit shaky. But there’s still every chance it all clicks once the knockout stages come around in 2020.
Oof, where do we start?
Barcelona snuck a win at home to Inter but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone outside of Luis Suarez’ family who was impressed by it. Messi’s absence at the start of this season has shone a light on just how poor the side is. Ernesto Valverde has built a team with no clear tactical ideas, no cohesion, no plan to win games other than the simple “give it to Messi” approach. That he exists is the only reason they have any shot at winning this trophy.
It’s a mess from top to bottom. The rot goes deep. The main man won’t be around forever. When he is gone, we might see how bad things can really get.
Real Madrid (+2000)
Zinedine Zidane, why are you doing this? You have wealth that I could only imagine. You could be anywhere right now, doing anything with your life. What you choose to do is manage Real Madrid to a 2-2 draw at home to Club Brugge. You don’t seem to know your best team. You still don’t seem to have any idea how this group of players is supposed to play without Cristiano Ronaldo. You don’t seem to trust any of these players too much.
I get that you’re an obsessive, that your desire to win overrules all sense and logic. But come on, man. Just go home. Watch some Netflix. Enjoy life and let Real Madrid hire Jose Mourinho to coach this side for two good years before it all implodes.
Where to Bet the Champions League in the US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.