Barstool’s Champions League Preview – Group Stage Matchday 1(a)
Sam’s Soccer Safe Space For Stoolies
The group stage is upon us. Nothing else need be said. A veritable cornucopia of incredible games is on deck today and tomorrow. First, though, get your mind right:
SEXUAL. Now on to the previews and pontificating and prognostications…
The eight groups are set.
• United, City and especially Liverpool (given their “third tier” status going into the draw) lucked their little balls off.
• Chelsea were not exactly fortunate… but then again were not particularly unfortunate either. If Roma was as good as they have been in recent years than this could have been a doozy but as is the Italians have, shall we say, lost a step.
• Then of course there is Tottenham – of course Tottenham – which got stuck in the “third pot” of teams (while United was included in the second pot – a seemingly small difference with a huge distinction and one that did not get discussed even a little bit by FOX’s talking chickenhead pundits) and of course was drawn into a very “tricky” (soccer-ese for “hard”) group because of course they did. Could be a recipe for yet another Champions League disaster… or it could be a recipe for orgiastic pleasure for yours truly if the two things I love most in this world – Spurs and BVBabyjesus – find a way to shit on Real Madrid’s plans for a ree-godamn-diculous third straight Champions League title.
• ROUGH draw for Celtic. Stuck in the fourth pot (and rightly so, regrettably, given the sorry state of Scottish soccer at the moment) they could just as easily have gotten stuck in Group E (Spartak Moscow/Sevilla/Liverpool) or Group G (Decimated Monaco, Porto, Besiktas)… but no, they got a group with Bayern and PSG. Yikes.
Not a whole lot of surprises when you look at who the favorites are to lift the trophy in late May:
In lieu of a team by team, or group by group breakdown this season (I am, after all, looking for ways of streamlining the blogs to save time for other “things”), I will offer some brief thoughts as far as TEAMS TO WATCH in both…
-a good way (as in underrated): Napoli, Besiktas
-and a bad way (as in overrated): Barcelona, Monaco, RB Leipzig
Also, one bold and spicy prediction: the eventual champion will NOT be one of the three clubs with lowest odds – Real Madrid, PSG or Barcelona – this season. And for those of you thinking “wait a second, that’s not very bold or spicy”… well I’ll have you know that the last FIVE winners were among that small group of clubs with the best odds at the start of the competition:
As for games on deck for today and tomorrow, here’s what we got on tap:
What a game. WHAT A GAME! I don’t even care if Juventus may have lost a half step coming into this season and Barca may have lost three, anytime you have a chance to watch two of the top five clubs in the world play you shut your mouth, thank the soccer gods, and enjoy the hell out of it.
The good news for Barcelona is that n00by Ousmane Dembele is ready to make his full debut for the club, which is rather close to full strength coming into the game (with an important caveat that full strength somehow includes guys like Andre Gomes, Paulinho and Gerard Deulofeu on the roster). Juventus, on the other hand, will be missing what seems like half their squad. Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio are all definitely out, and Alex Sandro is in doubt after sitting this weekend with an “illness”
Given the incredibly tasty odds on offer for Juventus it is hard not to want to at least sprinkle a little something on them… but I just can’t do it given the personnel issues the club is dealing with. Barca to win 2-1.
Did Stoke expose United as being not quite next level, or was last weekend’s draw simply an off game for Dear Leader Jozay & Co.? TBD. They will be without the likes of Phil Jones and (more importantly) Eric Bailly on defense, and sorry I’m not sorry about not being sold on a Smalling/Lindelof pairing at CB. Then again, despite Basel’s recent exploits against United, at the end of the day that was this and this is now and they are still Basel. United to win 3-1.
I can’t help thinking that the last couple seasons were Roma’s window for making some real waves and – as I will be saying about Tottenham a couple of years from right now – they missed it. Atleti has gotten off to an unsteady start themselves but are carrying no injuries and rested starters this past weekend, plus the second rule of Champions League betting (after when in doubt go with the Portuguese undergods) is never bet against Diego Simeone. Atleti to win 1-0.
Where in the hell are Qarabag from? A place with no U’s, apparently. Chelsea to win 4-0.
Reminder: got another biggggggggg slate tomorrow including Spurs and Liverpoo