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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

OT Soccer Thread, v.2019

Looks like the last thread is closed, so onto the new!

Upcoming Matches of Interest
2/3 Madrid Derby
2/4 Manchester City v. Arsenal
2/10 Manchester City v. Chelsea
2/12 Manchester United v. PSG
2/13 Tottenham v. Dortmund
2/19 Liverpool v. Bayern Munich
2/24 Manchester United v. Liverpool
2/28 Chelsea v. Tottenham
3/2 North London Derby, Merseyside Derby, & El Classico
3/5 Dortmund v. Tottenham
3/9 Arsenal v. Manchester United
3/13 Bayern Munich v. Liverpool
3/16 Manchester Derby
3/30 Liverpool v. Tottenham

The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: January 30, 2019 at 07:08 PM | 1806 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   601. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5821645)
It was a very good performance by Wolves, but Chelsea still should have won. Wolves had only one shot all game, and even that one should have been prevented. Chelsea had a number of dangerous chances and couldn't convert. The Higuaín miss at the back post probably won't even count as a shot.

edit: Wolves actually had a second shot later from outside the box.
   602. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5821672)
That should not have been a penalty. United has had very hard luck today.
   603. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 02:22 PM (#5821676)
Sheesh. If you don't include the penalty, United might win the xG by 2 goals.

edit: on the other hand, Arsenal should be a favorite for top-4 now, which I don't think has been the case at any prior point in the entire year.

edi: 538 had it as exactly +2 for Manchester United, without the penalty. Non-shot xG was much closer (just a 0.5 xG edge).
   604. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5821680)
After today's game, including penalties (which favors United a bit), in 13 games with OGS United is now around +5 on GD versus xGD, basically even with Arsenal and behind Spurs. On the year, they are only about +3.5, which is actually fairly low for a team at the top of the table, for any year (these teams on average overperform xG). It's pretty close to City's differential and way behind Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool. Only Chelsea has done more poorly by this measure.

For all the talk about penalties, they haven't favored United that much this year in the league--they only have converted two more penalties than their opposition (7-5).Penalties have actually have hurt them in performance versus xG (if you count penalty shots as part of xG totals), since their opponents have made all 5 but they themselves have missed 3.
   605. Mefisto Posted: March 10, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5821681)
Things about Arsenal/United I couldn't believe:

1. That they would assign John Moss to the game.
2. That Arsenal couldn't make more of United's midfield weakness.
3. That United somehow failed to score.
4. The way Lukaku controlled that ball.
5. The swerve on Xhaka's goal.
   606. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5821682)
Without penalties, 538 had it as +2.0, understat at +1.6, and Caley at +1.0. For three systems that use the same data inputs (I think), they can sure have fairly different results sometimes.
   607. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 03:07 PM (#5821685)
Arsenal's schedule is easy and interesting. It's mostly teams who will likely have little left to play for when Arsenal faces them: Newcastle (H), Everton (A), Watford (A), Palace (H), Leicester (A), Brighton (H), Burnley (A), and a postponed game at Wolves (A). The hardest games are the away games to the midtable clubs, but it's not clear how hard these teams will be playing. Arsenal is in very good shape for a top-4 spot now. 538 has them at 53% but betting odds are a littler higher.

edit: after Arsenal beat Tottenham on December 5, their odds of top 4 were probably just over 50% too. At that point Manchester United was dead and buried so those two, plus Chelsea, were only splitting the odds three ways, and they were all very close in the table and playing well.
   608. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 10, 2019 at 05:51 PM (#5821730)
I really hope this is the last season as a regular for Matic. United need to find someone better and more mobile.
   609. Mefisto Posted: March 10, 2019 at 06:06 PM (#5821731)
You're very charitable. I was hoping it was his last appearance.
   610. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 10, 2019 at 09:11 PM (#5821753)
Top 4 betting odds are ridiculously even:
Tottenham: 60%
Arsenal: 54.5%
Chelsea: 45.5%
Manchester United: 40%

Extrapolating from those numbers, it looks like the teams are all rated fairly close to each other for the rest of the year, but likely in this order: United/Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal.
   611. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 11, 2019 at 09:28 AM (#5821785)
Tottenham have two ridiculously hard games left (away to Liverpool and ManU) but the rest should be manageable. Lots of home games against weak teams, and theoretically in the new stadium!

They also don't have another game until 3/31, so that should give plenty of rest to the players, even given the internationals coming up.
   612. spivey Posted: March 11, 2019 at 09:49 AM (#5821793)
It saddens me to say this stretch has been poor enough I've thought to myself "You know, I think Tottenham's been good enough, long enough, to where a finish outside top 4 wouldn't kill them"

I've not been watching any of the MLS, but Atlanta United look poor so far. Almiron was great but was hardly their only very good player, and IIRC the guy replacing him was also supposed to be pretty accomplished from SA. Anyone who watches MLS have an idea what's going on? Bad luck? More likely due to the coaching change, or player performance?
   613. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 11, 2019 at 10:06 AM (#5821798)
Too late to edit, but obviously that should have said away to Liverpool and Man City, not ManU.
   614. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 10:15 AM (#5821800)
Atlanta has only played two games? Might be too early to panic. I didn't see any of the DC game, where the stats show Atlanta was beaten pretty badly, but as luck would have it, I saw the second half of the game at home against Cincinnati. Atlanta more or less dominated the second half in term so ball control and dangerous possession, but couldn't get off many good shots. The goal came off a breakdown on defense where they left the scorer completely unmarked all by himself in front of goal on the break. Basically that should almost never happen to a superior team dominating the ball up 1-0 late.

xG backs this up a bit: non-shot xG was fine in Atlanta's favor (1.4 to 0.4), but xG had it as 0.8 to 0.7. Almost all of that from Cincinnati was from the defensive lapse by Atlanta. You'd generally want Atlanta to get better shots though--I wasn't watching the game closely enough to know why they were having trouble breaking through on offense.
   615. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5821806)
Regarding OGS, at this point there's no way to deny that Manchester United have been playing as the third best team in the league since he came on. Part of that is Chelsea and Tottenham have been poor in the second half of the season--basically playing like average teams. (If those 11 games were the first 11 games of the season, would we be hearing statsbomb tell us that Chelsea and Tottenham were 10th placed teams, and "no better than" Palace or Burnley? That's what they did for United.) Part of it is that Arsenal has been a step below where you'd want them to be for challenging for a top 6 spot all year, and that hasn't really changed the second half of the year--it's only Tottenham and Chelsea playing poorly that have brought Arsenal back into it. Since OGS came on, United has been playing like a solid top 4 team--probably would be 3rd or even 2nd in the league most years.

Of course, right now Liverpool and especially Manchester City are playing so much better than that, so any expectation of Manchester United challenging for the title has to be heavily tempered. It's not likely to happen next year even if everything goes right for them, which itself is unlikely.

One more bit about which top-6 teams have been "lucky" this year in the league: penalties scored plus own goals differentials for top-6 teams:

Arsenal, Tottenham, United: 0
Chelsea, Manchester City: +4
Liverpool: +6
   616. Scott Lange Posted: March 11, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5821819)
I've not been watching any of the MLS, but Atlanta United look poor so far. Almiron was great but was hardly their only very good player, and IIRC the guy replacing him was also supposed to be pretty accomplished from SA. Anyone who watches MLS have an idea what's going on? Bad luck? More likely due to the coaching change, or player performance?


I'm no expert, but I was at the game yesterday and it was pretty dismal. I've been terribly frustrated with the player usage from de Boer so far. Due to the CONCACAF Champions League games, we've had a stretch of 6 games in 18 days. As a result, most folks seemed to be expecting he would rest the starters in some of the MLS games so as to focus on the alleged priority of advancing in the CCL. Instead, he started the A team in the CCL on 2/28 (necessary to dig out of a 3-1 hole from the first leg in Costa Rica), pretty much played the exact same team three days later in the rain at DC (achieving nothing but a 2-0 loss), then sent them all out again three days after that to get murdered in Monterrey. Somehow, they made it to the 70th minute down only 1-0. Seems like a good time for some fresh legs, but de Boer didn't sub. Ten more minutes went by, still 1-0... no subs. Monterrey scores in the 80th minute... no response. They score again in the 84th minute... no response. Finally, in the 90th minute he sends on... Jeff Larentowicz! Beware, Monterrey defense, Larentowicz is loose!! He sends on Villalba in the 91st minute and never does use his third sub.

The team has generally looked disconnected and lethargic, but I'm not really knowledgeable enough to diagnose those more subjective issues. The failure to rest anyone or use subs in a schedule gauntlet like we've been facing though seems to be objectively dumb.
   617. Mefisto Posted: March 11, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5821821)
Zidane returns to Madrid. Too bad -- I was really rooting for Mourinho.

If those 11 games were the first 11 games of the season, would we be hearing statsbomb tell us that Chelsea and Tottenham were 10th placed teams, and "no better than" Palace or Burnley? That's what they did for United.


I think this is unfair to Statsbomb. They correctly described the way United played under Mourinho. Changing managers frequently leads to improvement in team performance (Southhampton!), so it's not surprising that the team has gotten back to its "natural" talent level. Managers matter a lot.
   618. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 11:16 AM (#5821824)
I think this is unfair to Statsbomb. They correctly described the way United played under Mourinho.
I disagree entirely. It's an error to take a small slice of performance and describe it as quality/ability.
   619. Mefisto Posted: March 11, 2019 at 11:36 AM (#5821831)
I don't think that's what Statsbomb did. They said that United were playing like a mid-table team. Which was an accurate description of how the team performed under Mourinho. The players may have had the ability to do better, but not under that manager.
   620. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5821839)
They said that United were playing like a mid-table team.
They went beyond this. Their whole schtick is projection from xG, and they tend to do it from very small very small sample sizes.

The players may have had the ability to do better, but not under that manager.
This is almost certainly false. Mourinho or no, they wouldn't have finished 10th in the league.
   621. Mefisto Posted: March 11, 2019 at 12:00 PM (#5821850)
Mourinho or no, they wouldn't have finished 10th in the league.


Unlike Chelsea?

Mourinho is a destructive manager. He tears teams apart because he blames the players instead of adjusting his approach when things don't work out. No matter the talent, that sort of manager can give you awful results.

They went beyond this. Their whole schtick is projection from xG, and they tend to do it from very small very small sample sizes.


I read them as saying "United have thus far played like a mid-table team. If they continue to play this way, that's where they'll likely finish." I don't see any problem with that.
   622. J. Sosa Posted: March 11, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5821853)
Re: United

I think it is hard to project what they would have done had Mourinho continued using analytics. It was at the point of mutiny and Mourinho was feuding with Pogba. It’s hard to determine from a pure projection standpoint where United would have been when the former manager gave every indication of willingness to field 11 McTominays in favor of players like Pogba, Martial, etc and was trying to get fired.

As for Statsbomb, I am agnostic for the most part. I do recall a couple of articles I strongly disagreed with and I tend to take exception with a lot of things things Goodman says IIRC. I don’t remember the particulars, but there was one article from (Grantland?) I thought was wrong on just about every point. But, hey, what do I know.

I do tend to lean towards Mefisto’s predictions of doom had Mourinho continued. I don’t think it is unreasonable to say players would have played towards the bottom of their abilty, assuming the best players even got a chance to play.
   623. Sean Forman Posted: March 11, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5821860)
It may mean that I'm mean or have a morbid sense of humor, but I watched most of "Sunderland Til I Die" this weekend and I found it darkly hilarious. Sort of like watching The Office if they had been managing a football club. I highly recommend it (netflix), but your ymmv.
   624. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5821867)
Fair enough, those are some good points. One major counterpoint though is betting odds, which, though they are hard to find now for historical periods, never predicted United as anywhere near even 7th place. I don't think the final table projected gap was ever less than 10 points, even at United's lowest moment of the year.
   625. jmurph Posted: March 11, 2019 at 12:45 PM (#5821872)
Watching the rapidly shifting CW in world soccer is wild. Mourinho was locked on to be in at Madrid according to many and Zidane was definitely going to Juventus in the summer. Oops!
   626. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5821940)
Hey well what do you know. Frankfurt up 1-0 in a crucial away game gave up a penalty on a handball in the box. And it was reversed to a non-penalty on VAR review, probably correctly. Struck the arm, but it was close to his side and looked like he was trying to pull it away from the ball. Probably.
   627. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 11, 2019 at 05:25 PM (#5821952)
Frankfurt probably got lucky on a non-call just before injury time. Looked like the defender made clear contact in the box. The ball seemingly was just already bouncing away from goal when the foul occurred, but it's not that different from the shirt pull by Roma in the CL, where the ball had probably gone already. Then Frankfurt got two more in extra time to end it. On another day, it could have been a very different result.
   628. J. Sosa Posted: March 11, 2019 at 08:02 PM (#5821971)
Frankfurt rotated Rebic and Haller and were able to steal the points. Not sure who is in charge of recruitment at Frankfurt but they are doing the business. Evidently have an option on Jovic for cheap. They will almost certainly flip him but still, a very good deal.
   629. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: March 12, 2019 at 04:34 PM (#5822203)
My thoughts on Ronaldo ... that creep can roll, man ...
   630. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 12, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5822209)
City are a machine.
   631. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: March 12, 2019 at 05:12 PM (#5822219)
that creep can roll, man ...
   632. spivey Posted: March 12, 2019 at 05:13 PM (#5822220)
Yeah, I hate Ronaldo, and you need a guy or two to carry water for him, but god damn he's good.
   633. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 12, 2019 at 05:55 PM (#5822229)
They seldom call that kind of foul, but you know, they really should. No attempt at all to play the ball, and no argument that he even had any claim to the ball. Also, stupid play Giorgio.
   634. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 12, 2019 at 06:03 PM (#5822234)
Chiellini is such a joke. It's amazing that a central defender can be such a huge flopper.

That said, Atletico really deserved nothing today. I know they play defensively, but how are you not trying to grab that away goal?
   635. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 12, 2019 at 06:23 PM (#5822239)
England will be the only country with more than 1 team remaining in the CL. Both Germany and Spain (unlikely) could be completely shut out of the final 8.
   636. aberg Posted: March 12, 2019 at 06:52 PM (#5822242)
that creep can roll, man ...


8 year olds, dude.

England will be the only country with more than 1 team remaining in the CL. Both Germany and Spain (unlikely) could be completely shut out of the final 8.


Broken down further, it will probably go:
England- 3/4
Germany- 0/1
Italy- 1
Spain- 1
Portugal- 1
Netherlands- 1
   637. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 01:37 AM (#5822308)
How good have Spain been in the CL this decade? You have to go back to 2011-2012 before they had fewer than 3 teams in the final 8 (always RM/Barca, with Malaga, then Atleti for 4 years, then Sevilla). Have to go all the way back to 2009-2010 before one of RM/Barca didn't make it. back when RM was just a very good team, not a galactico. Their ELO now is at the worst it's been since that time.

It's been since 2006-2007 since Barca did not make the final 8, and it's been since 2004-2005 that no La Liga team has made the final 8.
   638. The Marksist Posted: March 13, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5822520)
I'm going to be in a parent/teacher conference and then in the car for almost all of the Liverpool match. Which might be better in terms of managing my anxiety, but creates a watch the score or watch the replay problem. Never know how to handle this.
   639. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5822540)
Flop. Van Dijk fell asleep but recovered.
   640. spivey Posted: March 13, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5822549)
I don't watch Bayern enough to say this confidently, but when I do watch them, he seems well past it. Of course, even at his best he could make some pretty frisky decisions on coming out.
   641. aberg Posted: March 13, 2019 at 04:59 PM (#5822560)
I don't watch Bayern enough to say this confidently, but when I do watch them, he seems well past it. Of course, even at his best he could make some pretty frisky decisions on coming out.


Neuer?
   642. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5822569)
Lyon is closer to advancing than Bayern all of a sudden.
   643. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:34 PM (#5822570)
what’s amazed me about this Liverpool game is t that they are winning but how much they’ve been on the front foot. There really hasn’t been an extended period that I’ve felt Bayern were the better team.
   644. KronicFatigue Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:35 PM (#5822571)
but creates a watch the score or watch the replay problem. Never know how to handle this.


Avoid the score, but decide on watching highlights (extended, not just goals) vs the whole match. I have someone I trust who knows my tastes (not just rooting interests) who I will ask "Is this a match worth watching in full?". Dedicating 90 minutes to a match that's already happened and might suck feels like too much.
   645. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:44 PM (#5822578)
Told y'all I wasn't worried about Liverpool making the quarterfinals.
   646. aberg Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:49 PM (#5822582)
It would be outstanding if the final 4 in the CL were all English in the midst of Brexit.
   647. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:53 PM (#5822584)
Bye, bye Bayern.
   648. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: March 13, 2019 at 05:55 PM (#5822585)
They changed the rule a few years ago so now teams from the same league can be drawn against each other I the quarterfinals right?
   649. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:10 PM (#5822588)
They changed the rule a few years ago so now teams from the same league can be drawn against each other I the quarterfinals right?
I think so. I don't like the change. It's more fun (for me) to see teams from different leagues play each other.
   650. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5822589)
Yes, any combination is on for the Quarters ...
   651. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:16 PM (#5822590)
Early betting odds (these should give a good idea of expected relative team strength, since we are pre-draw. even better will be tomorrow evening when people have had time to reflect on it.)

City: 28%
Barca: 22%
Juve: 19%
Pool: 15%
United: 7%
Spurs: 6%
Ajax: 4%
Porto: 1%

edit: betting odds
   652. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:22 PM (#5822591)
For all the talk of Bayern's defensive shortcomings, in this tie it was their offense that generated almost nothing over 2 legs. 0.7 xG (or so).

edit: to be fair, that sells them short because that own goal was a very dangerous chance. Easily 0.5 xG or higher had the defensive player whiffed.
   653. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:23 PM (#5822592)
I assume those are the betting odds. 538 has it as:

Man City: 28%
Liverpool: 22%
Barcelona: 20%
Juventus: 11%
Ajax: 7%
Tottenham: 5%
Man United: 4%
Porto: 3%

Clear top 4 and bottom 4 either way.
   654. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:25 PM (#5822593)
I bet Pep would argue strenuously against City being favorites to win the CL.
   655. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:27 PM (#5822594)
City are a machine.


City play like one of my FM teams, about 5-7 years in ...
   656. A sad, lost penguin wandering the tundra, dreaming Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:28 PM (#5822596)
Also, #### of a cross from Salah to find Mane at the back post ... strewth.
   657. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 06:33 PM (#5822597)
Clear top 4 and bottom 4 either way.
This means the draw will be more Important than usual. (Though Real Madrid made a mockery of that last year, even with a weakened team.)
   658. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 13, 2019 at 10:01 PM (#5822642)
The last time one country got 4 teams into the quarters was 10 years ago, when it was also England (United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal). That was also probably the last time the EPL was the strongest league in the world, and even then it didn't experience the type of dominance Spain has had this last decade.

Things seem to be changing though. By ELO, Spain has maintained a small edge most of the last couple years except brief moments here and there. The two leagues are pretty much neck and neck again right now though.
   659. J. Sosa Posted: March 13, 2019 at 10:57 PM (#5822648)
I felt good going into the match. Kimmich was a big loss, Mane predictably left Rafinha for dead. Bayern is old and slow and German league is a bit down. My German isn’t the best, but if I get the gist this has been a topic of discussion in some German circles. Club structures in Germany are going to make it increasingly difficult to compete with nation states, oligarchs, and English teams printing money. Or so the German theorists propose anyway.

Sometimes I am way off, but I just never bought how highly Bayern was rated by some of the systems. Easy to say now sure, but Ajax made them look bad at times. Ajax is good, but shouldn’t have been able to expose them like they did. Hummels and Sule lumbering around with Neur on one foot. Won’t last though. Bayern has kept the powder dry and is going to blow it up this summer.

CL bowl ball wishes from most to least

Porto
Ajax
United
Spurs
Barcelona
Juventus
City

Part of the list is team strength, and part of it is a desire to avoid more antacid intake. I can’t watch two more City matchups. Last one almost killed me. Also don’t want a Juve matchup for a lot of reasons. From a pure fan standpoint, I hate teams from same league matching up though. Boring.

Basically just don’t want City. But that is what is going to happen. David Stern and Patrick Ewing got nothin on UEFA.

Edit: Oh and Kovac. Playing for a nil nil at Anfield against a VVDless Liverpool playing a fifth string centerback seemed like madness to me when a score draw knocks you out. Suited Klopp perfectly.
   660. spivey Posted: March 13, 2019 at 11:34 PM (#5822651)
One guy who really impressed me in the tie was Gnabry. He was constantly making a fool of Robertson, who I think has been one of the best defenders in the league. The German youth product is too good for Bayern to ever be too far off. They have a guard change like Real did and Barca will too. City’s youth is very well set up for dominance the next several years.
   661. spivey Posted: March 13, 2019 at 11:36 PM (#5822652)
Also I agree City is the one tie Spurs can’t really win without extreme luck. I also don’t like domestic matchups. I still don’t rate Juve as a world beater, I wouldn’t be heart broken to take them on. It’d be fun anyways.
   662. Absurd Joey Blotto Posted: March 14, 2019 at 12:07 AM (#5822658)
Disagree with Spivey, I like playing a domestic foe. You don’t go in awed by the opponent because you’ve played them before. It’s like March Madness, I feel like a conference opponent is a bit easier than a team from different conference. City would be. A challenge because they are very good but I don’t think the issue there is any kind of mental block like it might be against Barcelona.
   663. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 12:09 AM (#5822659)
ELO, which is based on scorelines only, and between leagues is entirely dependent on games in Europe, has Germany up 23 points for the year so far, which though not really a large difference, is more than any other top league in Europe. (Spain: -13, England: +9, Italy: -13, France: -21, Russia: -29, Portugal: +17. Some of the lesser leagues have fairly good numbers like Germany, e.g., Netherlands +24). Similarly, Uefa points has Germany at just over 14 points, which is pretty much in line with where they have been in recent years, except last year where they did very badly.

They have increased in ELO in part because they started off the year in Europe very strong, whereas last year they were generally terrible except for Bayern. In fact, this whole crisis appears to be mostly about Bayern's formerly assured position as one of the top 3 teams in the world maybe being a thing of the past, at least for the moment. It doesn't seem to me like it have much to do with Germany generally.

On that last point, if Bayern had faced any of the other second placed teams except for Liverpool they would have been significant favorites in the round of 16. Liverpool was by far the best of that bunch, and could easily be one of the best three teams in the world right now. Losing to them is hardly a catastrophe, although not playing well against them does mean that Bayern probably isn't one of the top 4 teams anymore.
   664. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 14, 2019 at 07:44 AM (#5822676)
Count me in the group of not wanting a domestic matchup. Part of the fun of playing in Europe is playing against teams you never play against otherwise. I'd like for Tottenham to get Ajax - not just because they're one of the 'weaker' sides left, but because so many of Tottenham's players are Ajax alums.
   665. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 08:28 AM (#5822678)
As I said Bayern will not stay down, a monopoly on domestic players will do that for a club, but I personally think the decline is visible. It isn’t hard. The actions of the managers suggest what they both thought of the relative strengths of the two clubs. The xG was diabolical for a reason. Kovac played for a nil nil at Anfield and at home after the match talked about how they avoided passing the ball down the middle of the pitch. (!!!)

Which means Kovac thought his best chance was to win the Gnabry/Alaba/Ribery/Rafinha matchups against Robertson/Mane/TAA/Salah. This after subbing on a second fullback in the first match trying to preserve a nil nil. Kovac and his team acted like Liverpool were substantially better. Which isn’t what the various systems would have predicted. I like ELO well enough, but it is necessarily slow. I like looking at personnel too. And money. I realize that the player market is not completely open, but money has predictive power at the domestic level and I would suggest the hypothesis that it will to a lesser degree in interleague competitions if the gap widens has potential merit. Where that tipping point occurs, I don’t know, but it may be here.

To me it is kind of like a month or two ago, saying well City’s xG was poor this match. Well no ####, they were fielding backups. It had an impact. It isn’t predictive of much if City returns to full strength. The various projections have limitations, all I am saying. I give a lot more weight to betting odds in real time, although I suppose that is imperfect as well. I will say I am surprised how close they had it for the second leg.

I like xG and all of that, but to me it is like saying the Red Sox left 18 men on base but lost while only giving up three hits, all of which were homers. Any baseball fan here would know what that means long term if the underlying trends remain similar. Buf if Mookie Betts broke his hand in that game, Boegarts got spiked, and Bienendenti fell into the stands and broke his leg, it would be foolish to take those numbers independent of context. Soccer metrics are not at that point yet (i.e. publically available metrics couldn’t really say what a KDB injury means) but I assume people here know what xG is after a match just as they would know the LOB. I am more interested in what happened and what it might mean. Maybe nothing. But nothing is pretty tedious and isn’t always the case.

I am not saying Bayern is a bad team I am saying (and have been saying most of the season) that they aren’t a good Bayern team. Which they aren’t.
   666. jmurph Posted: March 14, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5822685)
I don't think Tottenham is significantly worse than Juventus.
   667. spivey Posted: March 14, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5822729)
Kovac played for a nil nil at Anfield and at home after the match talked about how they avoided passing the ball down the middle of the pitch. (!!!)

I'm curious what people think of Liverpool's midfield. They are by no means the most technical midfield, or a great scoring midfield, or great at unlocking the final pass. But playing through them is an absolute pain in the ass. They remind me of the best Atletico sides from several years back in that regard.

I rate them as one of the best midfield groupings in the world, despite on a player-for-player basis you maybe wouldn't see that, just because they seem to almost *always* win the midfield battle. Of course Klopp and the system deserve a lot of credit for this, but the players have a physical component and tenacity with pressing that not a lot of midfields could pull off even if you wanted to.
   668. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: March 14, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5822730)
I think part of it is that Bayern is getting old in places, and lacks the kind of overwhelming talent that they have had recently. But I think a not insignificant part is that Kovac is not all that impressive as a manager. Frankfurt certainly don't seem to have missed a beat after losing him. I was kind of shocked when he got the job, since he really doesn't have the kind of track record that they usually go for. 2 seasons, 16th (and barely avoiding relegation through the playoff game) and 11th...

I just don't think he is anywhere in the class of Pep of Klopp, or even his immediate predecessor Jupp Heynckes. I have never really watched a Bayern game with him managing, and thought to myself 'that was clever' or 'he did well there.' It's mostly just been Bayern having superior talent.

It kind of immediately reminded me of Moyes replacing SAF at United (in a much more competitive league than the Bundesliga obviously), in that the talent was definitely declining, but it was compounded by not being able to deploy the talent that was there optimally. And I think we have seen a similar drop when great or very good managers were replaced with average or below average ones at several clubs. Grant and Scolari following Mourinho's first stint at Chelsea. Probably multiple times with Real, considering how much they love playing manager-roulette...
   669. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5822748)
Exactly Spivey. The perception is that Liverpool’s relative weak link is the midfield. As a rule I think they tend to get underrated in terms of effectiveness, but they do have limitations. Klopp almost always goes with a three in these situations, which is well known and Kovac indicated they wanted to avoid the middle for fear of starting the Liverpool “train”. So why did Kovac bother with Rodriguez? Seemed incongruent.

My personal opinion is that Liverpool’s midfield is very good, but can be exposed against the elite of the elite. I would disagree with the perception that they are the relative weak link. TAA and whichever non VVD CB is playing on that side is the weakest part. To be fair, Bayern knew that and seemed to be following a modified City blueprint. But Gnabry and a geriatric Ribery ain’t Sane and Sterling. This years midfield is much better because of Fabinho. LFC often got exposed on the first ball with Henderson or Gini in that spot. They still lack a ball carrying mid. Ox was a huge loss and Keita hasn’t performed. Ideally I think Klopp wants Fabinho, Gini, and a ball carrying mid long term. Ox being out killed them against City this year. They didn’t have that presence to drive the ball at City and present a threat. Without that threat it was harder to punish City for some of the liberties they take.

Re: Spurs

Heysel.

Re: Bayern

I more or less agree with FPH. Frankfurt seems like they were more a product of shrewd recruitment rather than Kovac. He isn’t terrible, but I certainly don’t think he is at the level of the best managers. It has become fashionable in some circles to mock Ancelotti as a relic, but even a somewhat past it Ancelotti gave Klopp fits this season. Bayern kind of gives the impression of a team going through the motions before an overhaul.
   670. PepTech Posted: March 14, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5822780)
Predict-A-Draw!

City-Barca
Spurs-United
Pool-Juve
Ajax-Porto (because the gods are twisted that way)

You can swap City and Spurs if you like.
   671. aberg Posted: March 14, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5822818)
Barca-Ajax (Barca previews new signings)
Juve-Porto (Ronaldo visits home)
City-United
Spurs-L'Pool

I also like the Pep's Pep Derby.
   672. jmurph Posted: March 14, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5822821)
As a City fan I'm only hoping to avoid Liverpool. I guess Barcelona would be 2nd on that list.
   673. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5822828)
City/Liverpool is the matchup I would least like to see as a neutral. We saw that last year, and they are two of the best teams, from the same country. In particular, how much of a shame would it be if City (who I usually root against) were to go out against Liverpool 2 years in a row without having faced a quality European side in the knockouts? City has arguably been the best team in the world over that span.
   674. jmurph Posted: March 14, 2019 at 02:30 PM (#5822833)
I go the other way on teams from the same country facing each other- I hate when that happens in the Finals and would much prefer to get them out of the way earlier. I don't want Liverpool because they're friggin good! I'd feel the same way if they played in a different league (and when I become Premier League chairman my first act will be to deport them).
   675. spivey Posted: March 14, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5822836)
Barca/City would be fun. It's more worthy of a semi or final, but I want to see who blinks first.
   676. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 02:53 PM (#5822841)
Valencia had a couple half chances in the first half, but Krasnodar was probably the better team. The tie could still easily go either way.
   677. aberg Posted: March 14, 2019 at 02:57 PM (#5822844)
Frankfurt vs Inter is a great round of 16 EL matchup. Either of those teams could have a legitimate shot to win the whole cup.
   678. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5822853)
Suleymanov with a great shot for Krasnodar to pull ahead. They have deserved it based on their play today.

Then Valencia had a good header that just missed. Maybe they should have pushed a little harder for a goal earlier today and they wouldn't be in this predicament now.

edit: and Valencia got the goal they needed 90+3.
   679. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5822855)
Krasnodar may have been overcome by the moment, and Valencia may have been better than they looked at 0-0, where they didn't push too hard foor goals.

edit: Valencia didn't at all dominate this tie. Was a slim winner in xG in the first leg, and was the lesser team today. Still a team to be reckoned with but a team like Chelsea really shouldn't lose to them. The only team in Europe they've really outplayed this year over two legs was Celtic.

edit: well what do you know... shot xG (but not non-shot xG) liked Valencia much more than Krasnodar today. A bit counterintunitive but I amay have missed a good chance or two by Valencia earlier while I was working.
   680. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 04:12 PM (#5822863)
Arsenal look lively.

PSA: univision is carrying the draw tomorrow at 7est for those so inclined.
   681. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 04:14 PM (#5822865)
I am not looking forward to watching Jovic play for City next year.

Edit: No links but he reminds me very much of young Kun and wouldn’t surprise me.
   682. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 04:18 PM (#5822866)
The Arsenal player that made the assist on that second goal looked like he was also in an offside position. Will it count anyway?

edit: meanwhile Frankfurt! And Prague!!
   683. PepTech Posted: March 14, 2019 at 05:29 PM (#5822879)
Last I knew, Europa (and presumably CL) used the Away Goal rule, including during Extra Time. Is that still the case?
   684. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5822881)
Best match I have seen Kolasinac play.

PEA traded in spider man for black panther.
   685. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 05:40 PM (#5822882)
Oh, no VAR in Europa? So confused about when they use it. That's why the Arsenal goal stood.
   686. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:07 PM (#5822889)
This Slavia Prague - Sevilla match is bonkers. 2-2 (4-4 aggregate) going into extra time. Sevilla scores the third goal so Prague need two... but Prague scores one. Still have about 17 minutes!
   687. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5822892)
Europa (and presumably CL) used the Away Goal rule, including during Extra Time. Is that still the case?
yes, according to this, so Prague has to score again or lose.
   688. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5822893)
Only upset this round, and it was a very minor one, is probably going to be Frankfurt over Inter. Not really a surprise once we saw the draw kept the top teams from each other.
   689. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:26 PM (#5822894)
Prague got screwed. Soucek clearly fouled in the box and not only didn’t get the pen got slapped with a yellow.
   690. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:27 PM (#5822895)
Goal!!!
   691. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:27 PM (#5822896)
Not so fast! They're through if they can play 2 more minutes of defense!
   692. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:28 PM (#5822897)
No way. Prague scored! Messy one too.
   693. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:29 PM (#5822898)
Wait... what happened to Sevilla's keeper? That was Kjaer, a defender playing goal.

Of course I could be confused because I'm watching this in Spanish.

Edit: nevermind I'm just confused.
   694. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:33 PM (#5822900)
Yes Frank, I realized this afternoon I had one good thing to say about TNT soccer coverage: my Spanish has gotten much sharper.

One hasn’t lived until watching Europa League with spanish speaking announcers screaming Wakanda For-eveeerrrrrrrrrr!!!
   695. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:33 PM (#5822901)
To be fair to Prague, they looked very decent in that second extra time, which was the only part of the game I saw. Maybe Sevilla was tired?

At any rate, I just want to remind 538 that they labelled Prague as one of the very worst teams in Europa (probably unfairly, for example ELO thought pre-tournament they were just a typical subpar Europa team, not in any way terrible). Go Slavia Prague! You're no Dudelange, but we will pull for you anyway.
   696. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:35 PM (#5822902)
Happy for Prague. They really went at Sevilla. Plus I can’t stand Sevilla anyway.

Inter vs Frankfurt was great too. Both teams were completely drained.
   697. J. Sosa Posted: March 14, 2019 at 06:43 PM (#5822903)
I can’t claim to know anything about Prague other than that Fifa is pretty high on Soucek. I watched both legs, Prague took it to them. The matches were both crazy. Talent disparity was obviously significant, but it didn’t feel like I was watching a true minnow. Almost like a Basel or something like that from a few years ago. Looked like they had a couple of dudes that were legit.
   698. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2019 at 08:05 PM (#5822912)
Champions league betting odds haven't really moved since yesterday.

Europa betting odds (538 in parens)

Chelsea: 26% (24%)
Napoli: 22.5% (18%)
Arsenal: 19.5% (15%)
Valencia: 10% (15%)
Benfica: 7% (11%)
Frankfurt 7% (10%)
Villarreal: 5% (7%)
Slavia Prague 3% (0.3%)

Betting odds are tilted towards the 3 favorites and away from the others. The one exception is Prague, who the betting odds actually kind of like.
   699. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 15, 2019 at 12:36 AM (#5822945)
More fun with ELO. The EPL has once just pipped La Liga (it did so last year around this time as well before fading down the stretch). The EPL is also at right about the highest ELO it has had at any time in the last 10 years. It has reached this point a few separate times, most recently last year, but never really surpassed it since late 2008. La Liga had a very high ranking in 2008 as well.

Current ELO and differentials since the start of the 2018-2019 season.

EPL (England): 1733 (+16)
La Liga (Spain): 1728 (-14)
Bundesliga (Germany): 1673 (+25)
Serie A (Italy): 1632 (-19)
Ligue 1 (France): 1584 (-26)
RPL (Russia): 1544 (-32)
Primeira Liga (Portugal): 1496 (+27)

Manchester City is back to its highest rating ever, and highest place ever: 2006, second only to
Barcelona. Interestingly, Liverpool is close to its peak rating also, even though it is only has a rating of 1976. The reason seems to be that in recent years we have seen some teams like Barca and Real Madrid be ridiculously dominant for long stretches at a time, which has pulled the top ratings higher than they were a couple decades ago.

   700. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 15, 2019 at 07:18 AM (#5822952)
Ugh, Man City. Domestic matchup and probably the best team in the world.
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