It was just under two weeks ago that New York City FC’s season ended with a whimper in Queens. The NYCFC Blue fell 2-1 to Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a disappointing end to the season for the Conference Champions.
That disappointment and frustration were on full view when NYCFC coach Dome Torrent addressed the media postgame to such a degree that this was how High Press Soccer framed it that evening.
Torrent’s remarks in the Citifield press room made it clear that Pep Guardiola’s long time assistant was unhappy with more than just the night’s result. The manager surprised the assembled press when he brought into question his return for the 2020 season.
Why did Dome Torrent leave NYCFC?
“I don’t know” Torrent said that night when asked if he would return next season. “I have to go to Manchester,” Torrent explained, “because for me it is normal after the season to talk about what happened.”
Torrent then added somewhat cryptically, that “many things happened, many, many things. Maybe you don’t know but I know.”
Those “things” Torrent would later comment to Spanish language podcast Se Llama Soccer involved the coach’s dissatisfaction with how long it took the club to finally sign Heber, who Torrent called the team’s “ninth option” to take over for the departed club icon David Villa at striker.
High Press Soccer reported then that Torrent said, “don’t worry, (because) if Dome is not here. the most important thing is the club.” Torrent went on to praise his team, saying NYCFC had “amazing players.” “The most important thing is not the coach,” Pep Guardiola’s longtime assistant noted, “it’s the players.”
Torrent added that “They are ready for another coach because they are a group, a big group. They are ready. But don’t worry. If Patrick is not here, it’s Dome. If Dome is not here, it’s another coach.”
Torrent took the reigns from Patrick Viera when the Frenchman moved onto Ligue 1 side Nice. NYCFC initially played well for the new boss before stumbling into the postseason where they rallied to top Philadelphia before they were eliminated by Atlanta (4-1 aggregate) in the Conference semifinals.
A 4-0 defeat to Toronto in late March after New York had struggled to a slow start featuring a raft of draws caused High Press Soccer to wonder if the step from assistant to the top job was too big for Torrent.
Heber’s arrival helped to trigger a revival and NYCFC finished with the best regular season in the young franchise’s history before a pair of crucial mistakes sent NYC crashing out of the playoffs.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst replace Torrent at NYCFC?
When looking at the possible list of possible replacements for Torrent, it may not be necessary to look any further than City Football Group employee Giovanni van Bronckhorst. After a successful stint with Feyenoord, highlighted by winning the 2017 Eredivisie, “Gio” stepped down.
Rather than take on another managerial job, the 44 year-old former Dutch international signed on with City Football Group and appears poised to step in at CFG club New York City Football Club.
When Champions League brackets were originally formed, Group G was immediately identified as the most evenly-matched one. All four teams had a shot to win. After four matches, it’s the only group where all four teams at least have a realistic path to advance.
Champions League Group G Standings
|Zenit St Petersburg||4||1||1||2||5||6||-1||4|
Champions League Group G Top 2 Odds
Despite being a Pot 4 team, RB Leipzig was considered the likely favorite to win this group from day 1. While not as dominant as we expected, they’re still comfortably in position to advance–and likely win–the group.
After Leipzig, it really comes down to Zenit and Lyon. While Zenit is currently in third, they are a very good value at +300 to move past Lyon and into the Round of 16.
Is Lyon in danger?
To be fair, oddsmakers have them about even with Zenit on November 27th for the win. Zenit though have a distinct home advantage.
On the final matchday, Lyon host RB Leipzig while Zenit travels to Benfica.
If Zenit defeat Lyon on the 27th, they’ll both be tied at 7 points. Matchday 6 would determine who advances. The saving grace for Lyon is if Leipzig are comfortably through, atop the group and with little to play for, they may not roll out their A team. Benfica will be favored to beat Zenit.
So while Lyon should be odds-on to advance as they currently are, there is a realistic path for Pot 1 Zenit as well.
However, there are plenty of quality and intriguing match-ups and decent value bets. From Leicester vs Arsenal to Tottenham vs Sheffield and even Chelsea vs Crystal Palace, it’ll be an entertaining weekend in England.
2019-20 Premier League Matchday 12 Lines
|Friday, November 8th|
|Norwich City +170||Draw +255||Watford +150|
|Saturday, November 9th|
|Chelsea -315||Draw +450||Crystal Palace +850|
|Southampton +188||Draw +240||Everton +145|
|Burnely +128||Draw +255||West Ham +205|
|Newcastle +155||Draw +220||Bournemouth +188|
|Tottenham -182||Draw +320||Sheffield United +510|
|Leicester +104||Draw +265||Arsenal +250|
|Sunday, November 10th|
|Manchester United -167||Draw +270||Brighton +550|
|Wolves -114||Draw +255||Aston Villa +305|
|Liverpool +165||Draw +255||Manchester City +155|
Odds & Ends
- Let’s not bury the lead: Liverpool vs Manchester City is basically the Super Bowl. We’ve covered the match extensively. From a betting perspective though, anytime you can get Liverpool priced +165 at Anfield it’s worth a look.
- Friday’s match of Norwich vs Watford may not be marquee, but it is an absolute must-win for both squads. Those 3 points are critical if the Canaries and Hornets want to fight relegation. Expect a hard-fought, entertaining game.
- Chelsea is getting -315 at home vs a better-than-expected Crystal Palace. While Chelsea sit 4th in the table, Palace are 9th–ahead of Manchester United and Tottenham. While that -315 price is terrible, Chelsea have the best recent form of any domestic side. It’s hard to make a case for Palace to win this one.
- Tottenham vs Sheffield should be legitimately entertaining. The Blades sit sixth in the table to Spurs 11th and have a better gd (4 to 1). The +320 draw is a good price for a match that Tottenham frankly shouldn’t be odds-on to win.
- Leicester vs Arsenal should be entertaining as hell. Given the turmoil and inconsistency surrounding the Gunners and Unai Emery, it’s hard seeing them pulling points. Leicester at +104 is a great value for a clearly better side.
Where to bet the Premier League in the US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
This weekend, we have another lackluster slate in Spain.
First-place Barcelona (22 points) hosts 18th-place Celta Vigo. Real Madrid — which also has 22 points and also has a game in hand on the rest of the league — travels to 14th-place Eibar. Third-place Real Sociedad (22) hosts last-place Leganés, while fourth-place Atleti (21) is home vs. 19th-place Espanyol. The lines for those games match the disparity between where those teams are in the table.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that none of those games will be terribly close – although it was hard to imagine Barcelona struggling with Levante last weekend, and we saw how that worked out.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any interesting match-ups in Spain, as an improving Valencia (17) could vault from 13th place to within a few points of a Champions League spot if they knock off sixth-place Granada (20). Valencia has our attention because A) they’ve piled up two wins, two draws and a loss in their last five after a terrible start and, more importantly, B) they are tied for first in Group H in the Champions League after routing Lille 4-1 on Tuesday. Valencia (-157) is a substantial favorite over Granada (+510), who oddsmakers continue to doubt, but that line is tempting!
*Breaking addition* C) Valencia just sacked General Director Mateu Alemany. So owner Peter Lim has now run off the coach, Marcelino, and GM behind back-to-back successful seasons. A big Champions League win on a Tuesday and a baffling (it’s actually not thaat confusing – Lim wanted Alemany out, so he’s out, but I digress…) executive decision the following Thursday – only at Valencia!
Trouble in Catalonia
This time a week ago, we were wondering when Barcelona would even break a sweat again, much less lose. And then they turned around and suffered an embarrassing 3-1 loss at Levante. So Real Madrid is not the only Spanish powerhouse we can’t figure out. We’ll get to Los Blancos, but the most pressing topic in Spain is Barcelona’s current state.
Apparently, Lionel Messi doesn’t cure every ill for this team. They’ve struggled to generate scoring opportunities the last 180 minutes – their only goal vs. Levante last weekend came on a penalty from guess who Messi, and they were shut out in a 0-0 Champions League draw at home vs. Slavia Prague on Tuesday. Offensively, the Catalans have come to a screeching halt after entering last weekend having outscored their last seven opponents – both domestically and in Europe – 20-4.
The draw vs. Slavia Prague was the latest reminder of how crucial Luis Suarez is to this team’s attack. Though he’s drawn criticism from his own fans this year, he’s scored eight goals, six in La Liga and two in the Champions League. And if that level of production doesn’t speak for itself, watch the tape of the last few games he’s been hobbled or absent. It isn’t pretty. There’s still a good chance Antoine Griezmann integrates into this lineup at some point and starts playing like the Griezmann of the last few years, but Barcelona’s last two appearances have been concerning.
They still should be favored to win La Liga, but it’s hard to see them playing well enough on the road in the UCL to capture that trophy, as the loss to Levante was just the latest example of their vulnerability away from home. We won’t say too much here about the Champions League disasters at AS Roma and Liverpool the last two seasons, but in the current La Liga season, Spain’s best club has lost away to Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Levante and drawn Osasuna.
All that being said, expect Barcelona (-500) to blow out Celta Vigo (+1200) this weekend.
Is Real Madrid back on track?
Los Blancos’ last La Liga effort, their 0-0 draw vs. Real Betis last Saturday, was not exactly a head-turner. But the performances sandwiching that draw have offered a glimpse at what this team could evolve into. The 5-0 win over Leganés on Oct. 30 featured Luka Jovic’s first goal of the season, as 18-year-old Rodrygo, Toni Kroos and Co. all broke out.
And on Wednesday, RM was dominant again, routing Galatasaray 6-0. Rodrygo had another strong outing, this time notching a hat trick, a tremendous accomplishment for a teenager in a UCL match. Real Madrid (-162) should cruise again this weekend against Eibar (+440).
Where to bet La Liga in the US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Chops is joined by site contributor Tyler Everett to discuss:
- Wednesday’s Champions League takeaways
- Is PSG a Champions League contender?
- And then a full preview of Liverpool vs Manchester City. Who will win? What are our predictions? And is this the biggest soccer match of the entire year?