Still Not the Super League: Champions League 23/24

rguilmar

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Do you think there is anything to this claim floating around the internet that Yamal is actually older or is it just a rumor invented by jealous Real fans?
I don’t. I would go as far as to say that there is a hint of racism, anti-immigrant feelings, and anti-Muslim sentiment in the claims too since Yamal is the child of Moroccan immigrants. Nobody is saying the same thing about Cubarsi or Hector Fort who both look physically more mature than Yamal, at least to my eye. All three were born in the same region (and both Fort and Yamal in Barcelona itself).
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I don’t. I would go as far as to say that there is a hint of racism, anti-immigrant feelings, and anti-Muslim sentiment in the claims too since Yamal is the child of Moroccan immigrants. Nobody is saying the same thing about Cubarsi or Hector Fort who both look physically more mature than Yamal, at least to my eye. All three were born in the same region (and both Fort and Yamal in Barcelona itself).
That's what I figured. And I agree about the hint (or more than a hint) of racism likely involved.
 

teddykgb

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Thuram with a cup check on Savic in ET made me laugh

edit: this goes to pens AET right? Why is Griezmann coming off don’t you want him on pens?
 
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trs

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Thuram with a cup check on Savic in ET made me laugh

edit: this goes to pens AET right? Why is Griezmann coming off don’t you want him on pens?
He's still recovering. Looks like he could barely take off his boot.

Fucking penaltis...
 

Vinho Tinto

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Ahead of Figo, really? Figo was regarded as the best player in the world at one point.
Fair question. I'm waiting to see my son's doctor, so I can go with a longer answer:

Figo was a better player. He won world player of the year and his time at Barca is legendary; but his time for the Selecao was spotty. They missed out on USA '94 and '98. They were eliminated in the group stage in Korea '02 in humiliating fashion. 2 reds in the decisive match vs Korea. Joao Pinto suspension for striking the match official ended his international career. Figo and the team had great runs at Euro 2000, 2004 and WC '06. By '04 Figo was still a top player, but he was no longer the player he had been at his peak. The best I saw him play for the Selecao was during qualification for Korea. He was looking like a monster. He injured his ankle in a Champions League match vs Porto and wasn't at that prior level when he recovred for the World Cup. I do value his less than peak play and disappointing team results when he was the best player/captain. They did not look buttoned up during those failures and he did not call out anyone while it was happening. Did the typical athlete thing of passive aggressively shifting blame to the managers and FA after. The Golden Generation was a disappointment and he was the top man for it.

Pepe, who Figo would have blocked from playing for Portugal due to being from Brazil, has been the perfect compliment to Ronaldo during his run. He's been the foundation to their defense since his first cap in '07. He deserves his reputation for "dark arts", but he's also been a player who is a team leader. Going back to his time at Porto, very common to see him wear the captain's arm band. Besides Brazil 2014, his tournaments have been outstanding. He was Portugal's best player at Euro 2012 (they lost PKs in the semis to the great Spain team) and was nails in the 2016 tournament and final. They don't win without him because he again played at the highest level when it really mattered.

He's now 41 and has 134 caps; but still makes himself available to play for Portugal out of loyalty to the program and Ronaldo. At the last World Cup, he did not play until the round of 16 vs Switzerland; but he was great and scored a goal to boot.

Would I prefer he didn't play dirty? Of course. For me, he is also what I want out of pros. He doesn't cheat anyone for effort and commitment. As I get older, I also appreciate athletes who appear to be quality people. Pepe has always come across as humble and appreciative of what he has.

I'm not trashing Figo. He's an all-timer for Portugal, but I value Pepe more. It doesn't hurt that he belts out the anthem vs many guys over the years who would make a face like they never heard it before.
 
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Kliq

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Fair question. I'm waiting to see my son's doctor, so I can go with a longer answer:

Figo was a better player. He won world player of the year and his time at Barca is legendary; but his time for the Selecao was spotty. They missed out on USA '94 and '98. They were eliminated in the group stage in Korea '02 in humiliating fashion. 2 reds in the decisive match vs Korea. Joao Pinto suspension for striking the match official ended his international career. Figo and the team had great runs at Euro 2000, 2004 and WC '06. By '04 Figo was still a top player, but he was no longer the player he had been at his peak. The best I saw him play for the Selecao was during qualification for Korea. He was looking like a monster. He injured his ankle in a Champions League match vs Porto and wasn't at that prior level when he recovred for the World Cup. I do value his less than peak play and disappointing team results when he was the best player/captain. They did not look buttoned up during those failures and he did not call out anyone while it was happening. Did the typical athlete thing of passive aggressively shifting blame to the managers and FA after. The Golden Generation was a disappointment and he was the top man for it.

Pepe, who Figo would have blocked from playing for Portugal due to being from Brazil, has been the perfect compliment to Ronaldo during his run. He's been the foundation to their defense since his first cap in '07. He deserves his reputation for "dark arts", but he's also been a player who is a team leader. Going back to his time at Porto, very common to see him wear the captain's arm band. Besides Brazil 2014, his tournaments have been outstanding. He was Portugal's best player at Euro 2012 (they lost PKs in the semis to the great Spain team) and was nails in the 2016 tournament and final. They don't win without him because he again played at the highest level when it really mattered.

He's now 41 and has 134 caps; but still makes himself available to play for Portugal out of loyalty to the program and Ronaldo. At the last World Cup, he did not play until the round of 16 vs Switzerland; but he was great and scored a goal to boot.

Would I prefer he didn't play dirty? Of course. For me, he is also what I want out of pros. He doesn't cheat anyone for effort and commitment. As I get older, I also appreciate athletes who appear to be quality people. Pepe has always come across as humble and appreciative of what he has.

I'm not trashing Figo. He's an all-timer for Portugal, but I value Pepe more. It doesn't hurt that he belts out the anthem vs many guys over the years who would make a face like they never heard it before.
Thanks for the thoughtful response. It's always hard to compare players, especially players that played two totally different positions like winger and center back. I love Figo and I'm a sucker for his elegance and his creativity on the wing. If he played now I think he would be a huge goal scorer.
 

Vinho Tinto

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If he played now I think he would be a huge goal scorer.
True. We don't see guys play wide like they used to. Even though Figo was built like a bull (good luck to smaller defenders trying to move him off the ball) he was a classic winger who was primarily a facilitator. Today, he would be expected to play more like CR7/Bale/Son. We can observe how wingers have transformed by just following how Ronaldo evolved from when he arrived at ManU in '03 to banging in 60 goals for Real in '12.
 

bosox4283

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I had Atletico and Dortmund as lowest ranked teams, so that gives me some encouragement that Atleti can advance.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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One of the lesser discussed changes to the new format next year is that they're going to do a "tennis style" bracket from the R16 onward with the seeding of the top 8 determined by position in the group stage and it therefore being impossible for the top four seeds to meet other each prior to the semi-finals. There's no guarantee that the subjectively "strongest" teams will end up as the top four seeds from group play but that should still ameliorate the possibility of having a very lopsided draw, while also creating a lot more incentive to care about group stage play.
 

rguilmar

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For my money, there is a clear favorite in Man City who have the talent, coaching, and experience. They are in a dog fight at the top of the Premier League and are still in the FA Cup which can drain the team a bit, but I rate them clear of everyone else. The next tier is Real Madrid who have the coach and experience, and most of the talent but is an incomplete team because the lack of a true goal scoring 9 and injuries at CB/GK. They are clear in La Liga and out of the Copa del Rey, so this will be their only focus.

Then the rest are lumped together IMO. They all lack the experience, high end talent, and/or coaching compared to the other two. I could see an argument for ranking them in any order based on whatever criteria with everyone probably leaning towards the teams that they see the most often.
  • Arsenal are talented but somewhat inexperienced, both in players and manager, in the unique pressures of the Champions League while also fighting off Liverpool and Man City in the Prem . They really looked to be knocked off their game by one of the "lesser" quarterfinal opponents in Porto, but that experience could have hardened them as well. They haven't really faced any top team in the group or knockouts yet.
  • PSG are trickier to rate because of their league, which they are runaway leaders in and are in the cup semifinals. They lack some of the name recognition of years past, but have a ton of younger talent, quite a bit of experience in major tournaments, and a well respected manager (except for some die hard Spanish and La Liga fans like @sdiaz1 - yes, he should have been for flexible and used players like Aspas). Maybe they are a better team but with less top end talent than in the past? They came out of the toughest group and beat a group winner in Real Sociedad who won their group over one of the tournament favorites, Inter, albeit a different Real Sociedad than the team that took the field earlier this season.
  • Bayern Munich are clearly talented based on the names on the back of the shirts (well, below the numbers) but the whole has been less than the sum of their parts. They have a lame duck manager. Personally, I'd rate them below PSG a touch and probably a healthier Barcelona. They have really not shown up in a few of the bigger games this season, though they were impressive in their home leg comeback against Lazio. They are out of the Pokal, they are essentially out of the Bundesliga title race, which will allow them to focus on the UCL.
  • Barcelona are playing much better now, but I could copy and paste what I said about Bayern above as it all rings true here. They have significant injuries to overcome in midfield as well. To give Xavi some credit, they have looked better of late. They rely heavily on kids.
  • Ateltico Madrid is the team I picked to win La Liga, and boy was I wrong. Their defense is aging before our very eyes. They are very vulnerable, especially against a counter attack. That being said, they are definitely battle tested, the players have defined roles, they have a great manager, and they appear to be a better tournament team than a league team. The Metropolitano is a fortress. Only two teams have escaped without a loss in all competitions. They are in a fight for 4th as well, so their focus cannot be solely on the Champions League.
  • Borussia Dortmund has a lot in common with what I said about Atleti in terms of players having roles, possibly being a better tournament team, fighting for fourth, and having a tough home ground. They have looked awful the few times I've watched them in the Bundesliga. Yet they won far and away the toughest group in the Champions League, besting PSG, AC Milan, and Newcastle.
 

teddykgb

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For my money, there is a clear favorite in Man City who have the talent, coaching, and experience. They are in a dog fight at the top of the Premier League and are still in the FA Cup which can drain the team a bit, but I rate them clear of everyone else. The next tier is Real Madrid who have the coach and experience, and most of the talent but is an incomplete team because the lack of a true goal scoring 9 and injuries at CB/GK. They are clear in La Liga and out of the Copa del Rey, so this will be their only focus.

Then the rest are lumped together IMO. They all lack the experience, high end talent, and/or coaching compared to the other two. I could see an argument for ranking them in any order based on whatever criteria with everyone probably leaning towards the teams that they see the most often.
  • Arsenal are talented but somewhat inexperienced, both in players and manager, in the unique pressures of the Champions League while also fighting off Liverpool and Man City in the Prem . They really looked to be knocked off their game by one of the "lesser" quarterfinal opponents in Porto, but that experience could have hardened them as well. They haven't really faced any top team in the group or knockouts yet.
  • PSG are trickier to rate because of their league, which they are runaway leaders in and are in the cup semifinals. They lack some of the name recognition of years past, but have a ton of younger talent, quite a bit of experience in major tournaments, and a well respected manager (except for some die hard Spanish and La Liga fans like @sdiaz1 - yes, he should have been for flexible and used players like Aspas). Maybe they are a better team but with less top end talent than in the past? They came out of the toughest group and beat a group winner in Real Sociedad who won their group over one of the tournament favorites, Inter, albeit a different Real Sociedad than the team that took the field earlier this season.
  • Bayern Munich are clearly talented based on the names on the back of the shirts (well, below the numbers) but the whole has been less than the sum of their parts. They have a lame duck manager. Personally, I'd rate them below PSG a touch and probably a healthier Barcelona. They have really not shown up in a few of the bigger games this season, though they were impressive in their home leg comeback against Lazio. They are out of the Pokal, they are essentially out of the Bundesliga title race, which will allow them to focus on the UCL.
  • Barcelona are playing much better now, but I could copy and paste what I said about Bayern above as it all rings true here. They have significant injuries to overcome in midfield as well. To give Xavi some credit, they have looked better of late. They rely heavily on kids.
  • Ateltico Madrid is the team I picked to win La Liga, and boy was I wrong. Their defense is aging before our very eyes. They are very vulnerable, especially against a counter attack. That being said, they are definitely battle tested, the players have defined roles, they have a great manager, and they appear to be a better tournament team than a league team. The Metropolitano is a fortress. Only two teams have escaped without a loss in all competitions. They are in a fight for 4th as well, so their focus cannot be solely on the Champions League.
  • Borussia Dortmund has a lot in common with what I said about Atleti in terms of players having roles, possibly being a better tournament team, fighting for fourth, and having a tough home ground. They have looked awful the few times I've watched them in the Bundesliga. Yet they won far and away the toughest group in the Champions League, besting PSG, AC Milan, and Newcastle.
It’s funny because this is definitely the prevailing opinion but this is the weakest City have been in a long time. We cannot keep a clean sheet to save our life in spite of regularly starting 4 CBs and the attendant loss of creativity that causes. I think City probably has too much for Madrid but in these matches the details matter and it wouldn’t shock me if the goals just pile up. In the end I think City are of course favorites but in the abstract I think it’s fundamentally difficult to navigate two consecutive years of Madrid/Bayern or Arsenal/ finalist without just making the wrong mistake at the wrong time. Which I guess is just a way of saying I’d take the field
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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For my money, there is a clear favorite in Man City who have the talent, coaching, and experience. They are in a dog fight at the top of the Premier League and are still in the FA Cup which can drain the team a bit, but I rate them clear of everyone else. The next tier is Real Madrid who have the coach and experience, and most of the talent but is an incomplete team because the lack of a true goal scoring 9 and injuries at CB/GK. They are clear in La Liga and out of the Copa del Rey, so this will be their only focus.

Then the rest are lumped together IMO. They all lack the experience, high end talent, and/or coaching compared to the other two. I could see an argument for ranking them in any order based on whatever criteria with everyone probably leaning towards the teams that they see the most often.
  • Arsenal are talented but somewhat inexperienced, both in players and manager, in the unique pressures of the Champions League while also fighting off Liverpool and Man City in the Prem . They really looked to be knocked off their game by one of the "lesser" quarterfinal opponents in Porto, but that experience could have hardened them as well. They haven't really faced any top team in the group or knockouts yet.
  • PSG are trickier to rate because of their league, which they are runaway leaders in and are in the cup semifinals. They lack some of the name recognition of years past, but have a ton of younger talent, quite a bit of experience in major tournaments, and a well respected manager (except for some die hard Spanish and La Liga fans like @sdiaz1 - yes, he should have been for flexible and used players like Aspas). Maybe they are a better team but with less top end talent than in the past? They came out of the toughest group and beat a group winner in Real Sociedad who won their group over one of the tournament favorites, Inter, albeit a different Real Sociedad than the team that took the field earlier this season.
  • Bayern Munich are clearly talented based on the names on the back of the shirts (well, below the numbers) but the whole has been less than the sum of their parts. They have a lame duck manager. Personally, I'd rate them below PSG a touch and probably a healthier Barcelona. They have really not shown up in a few of the bigger games this season, though they were impressive in their home leg comeback against Lazio. They are out of the Pokal, they are essentially out of the Bundesliga title race, which will allow them to focus on the UCL.
  • Barcelona are playing much better now, but I could copy and paste what I said about Bayern above as it all rings true here. They have significant injuries to overcome in midfield as well. To give Xavi some credit, they have looked better of late. They rely heavily on kids.
  • Ateltico Madrid is the team I picked to win La Liga, and boy was I wrong. Their defense is aging before our very eyes. They are very vulnerable, especially against a counter attack. That being said, they are definitely battle tested, the players have defined roles, they have a great manager, and they appear to be a better tournament team than a league team. The Metropolitano is a fortress. Only two teams have escaped without a loss in all competitions. They are in a fight for 4th as well, so their focus cannot be solely on the Champions League.
  • Borussia Dortmund has a lot in common with what I said about Atleti in terms of players having roles, possibly being a better tournament team, fighting for fourth, and having a tough home ground. They have looked awful the few times I've watched them in the Bundesliga. Yet they won far and away the toughest group in the Champions League, besting PSG, AC Milan, and Newcastle.
That's a good assessment.

City is clearly the favorite and BvB clearly the weakest for me. After that I don't think there is that much between the other six sides. Real Madrid is Real Madrid so I have absolutely no problem with them as second favorites. But to some degree its because I can't make a strong positive case for anybody else. A lot could depend on what kind of miracles the medical team can do with Courtois and Militao over the next month.
 

67YAZ

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As a neutral, it's fantastic to have 2 heavyweight tilts in the quarterfinals. Should be fantastic stuff.

As a Liverpool fan, I'd rather City & Arsenal have easy paths to the final so that they keep their schedules as grueling and congested as possible.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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As a neutral, it's fantastic to have 2 heavyweight tilts in the quarterfinals. Should be fantastic stuff.

As a Liverpool fan, I'd rather City & Arsenal have easy paths to the final so that they keep their schedules as grueling and congested as possible.
Both sides winning and then having to play massively taxing semifinal ties against each other in the midweeks of matchweeks 35-36 and 36-37 seems pretty good from a Liverpool perspective.
 

rguilmar

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It’s funny because this is definitely the prevailing opinion but this is the weakest City have been in a long time. We cannot keep a clean sheet to save our life in spite of regularly starting 4 CBs and the attendant loss of creativity that causes. I think City probably has too much for Madrid but in these matches the details matter and it wouldn’t shock me if the goals just pile up. In the end I think City are of course favorites but in the abstract I think it’s fundamentally difficult to navigate two consecutive years of Madrid/Bayern or Arsenal/ finalist without just making the wrong mistake at the wrong time. Which I guess is just a way of saying I’d take the field
This is all true. I think most of us look at City and realize that they essentially added KDB to the squad that has made it this far in the Champions League, is right with Arsenal and Liverpool in the league, and has progressed pretty deep in the FA Cup. Madrid likely could have posed a greater threat in later rounds when Militao and/or Courtois return. As of now, they have one legit CB (Rudiger), one cooked defender (Nacho), a 6 that they play at CB (Tchouameni), and a backup keeper.

I wouldn't be totally shocked by any matchup in the final. I would be most surprised by Dortmund making it that far, though they have a very impressive resume in the Champions League itself this season. I think it would be considered an upset if Man City got knocked out by anyone, but obviously it's more likely than not that they get knocked out at some point.

You can make the argument that except for Inter, likely in place of Dortmund or Atleti, that this is as strong of a final eight as one could expect (with an Anfield-sized asterisk of course).
 

teddykgb

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I had the same thought yesterday. This final 8 is basically chalk. Inter probably belong but it’s fine margins as they saw. Obviously easier on one half of draw but after years of being frustrated in this competition I’ve come to learn that I’d probably rather play Madrid over 2 legs than a one off. So maybe even my preferred outcome to have to try to deal with Madrid early versus hoping someone else does it and play them late
 

Mighty Joe Young

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It’s funny because this is definitely the prevailing opinion but this is the weakest City have been in a long time. We cannot keep a clean sheet to save our life in spite of regularly starting 4 CBs and the attendant loss of creativity that causes. I think City probably has too much for Madrid but in these matches the details matter and it wouldn’t shock me if the goals just pile up. In the end I think City are of course favorites but in the abstract I think it’s fundamentally difficult to navigate two consecutive years of Madrid/Bayern or Arsenal/ finalist without just making the wrong mistake at the wrong time. Which I guess is just a way of saying I’d take the field
I appreciate a City fans honest assessment. I tend to agree that this is not the same old City. We just watched them played off the park by a Liverpool team missing six regulars. Still think of them as favourites though but not by much.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Nervous...its been a while for us Arsenal fans.

Bayern's front four is scary but that defense and central midfield looks pretty soft. Eric Dier starting...

Pep dropped KDB for this match and I think its the smart move. The only way Real can really hurt City is turning this into a super high intensity match, up and down the pitch, and hoping the likes of Camavinga, Valverde, and Bellingham run City's midfield ragged like Liverpool did to them at Anfield. I don't think its a match for the current incarnation of KDB, at least at the start.

Haaland has been in shit form but you have to like the matchup against Tchouameni and Rudiger.


View: https://twitter.com/Arsenal/status/1777758712565776861


View: https://twitter.com/FCBayern/status/1777756138378797285


View: https://twitter.com/ManCity/status/1777755007758012750


View: https://twitter.com/realmadrid/status/1777744666219180060
 

rguilmar

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Took them a few minutes to warm up.

edit- RM is beating the crap out of Grealish
Yeah, fairly or unfairly the narrative in Spain is that Grealish can get knocked off his game easily if you’re physical with him. And RM are really good at going after weaknesses over and over again.
 

blueline

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Mental mistakes continue to be one of the few weakness for the Arsenal defense. Had largely disappeared over the last few months but it’s still lurking.
 

teddykgb

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City have largely been good but man is it terrifying when Madrid get it on the counter. Absolutely no way we don't concede again so have to hope we at least score another and can try to take care of it at home hopefully with a little more health