Champions League draw analysis: Picks to make it out of each group

August 29, 2015

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, left, and UEFA Competitions Director Giorgio Marchetti, right, remove the balls containing the names of the soccer clubs, during the draw for the Champions League 2015/16 play-offs, at the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
“There was a twist to the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco Thursday. UEFA’s new seeding regulations meant that only reigning champions would be picked from Pot 1, leaving some dangerous contenders in the lower pots. And so it proved, as Manchester City was drawn with Juventus and Sevilla while Real Madrid drew Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk. The draw resulted in some intriguing individual storylines, powerhouses going up against one another and the first steps on the road to the San Siro.” SI (Video)

Saturdays on the Couch, Week 2: Sluggish Wolfsburg

August 26, 2015

“…I wrote about how he was one of the coaches to watch in my Family Tree pieces but with quotes like the above and his quote in the same presser where he said: ‘Fundamentally, it is better to lose while playing well in the second half rather than win with the first half performance, as we really did not do enough.’ He is quickly becoming one of my favorite coaches.” StatsBomb

Bundesliga This and That: Random Thoughts on our Favorite League – Week 2

August 24, 2015

“After two matchdays, which club is currently best in the Bundesliga? Two weeks into the season, only Borussia Dortmund, FC Bayern Munich and Bayer 04 Leverkusen still carry perfect records, with BvB tops in the table due to their +8 goal differential.  Are they the best so far, though?  Personally, the answer is a qualified yes — no goals allowed, incisive play, and a whopping 53% conversion rate of shots on goal (eight goals in 15 SOGs), while Roman Bürki has been perfect in stopping opponents’ SOG (three saves in three SOGs).  Dortmund look more robust, healthier, than they did all of last season.  Their only blight thus far was the almost-ambush in Norway Thursday in Europa League action by Odd Grenland, who notched three early goals before Die Schwarzgelben answered with four. One could say that Thursday’s match was a learning experience for Thomas Tuchel, and fortunately, a rather inexpensive one.” Bundesliga Fanatic

2015-16 Bundesliga Preview: Variety at the top, goals all the way through

August 17, 2015

“The Bundesliga was my gateway drug into the high-flying, groupie-gathering, time-sucking, spreadsheet-staring, decimal-point debating, fantastic world of soccer analytics. I was your run-of-the-mill World Cup and EPL viewer before deciding one day I wanted to know more about the soccer world elsewhere and simply chose the Bundesliga to follow for a year. I put $200 in a betting account and began working to beat the bookies. I read Colin Trainor here on expected goals and built my own model. I manually input shots from all these different zones and adjusted for schedule.” StatsBomb

3-5-2 or 4-1-4-1: What approach best suits Pep Guardiola’s Bayern?

August 17, 2015

“Predicting Guardiola’s approach may be one of the hardest duty a football enthusiast could undertake. But despite the alterations and flexibility, Alankrith Shankar has narrowed down the options to two wide-scoped approaches that the Bayern Munich could implement. New Year, new squad, same manager. Pep Guardiola is into the last year of his current contract at Bayern Munich and early signs show that there may not be an extension offered to the Spaniard unless he pulls off a treble that the fans and board have been wanting ever since he set foot at the club’s training grounds.” Outside of the Boot

Record fourth straight Bundesliga title all but a given for Bayern Munich

August 17, 2015

“No team has ever won four German titles in a row before. Not in the Bundesliga, and not in the complicated days before the national league when the champion was decided by regional tournaments feeding into a knockout. When Bayern won a third straight title last season, it was the fifth time since a national championship was inaugurated in 1903 that a team had completed a hat trick. But nobody’s ever done four. This should be the story of a great quest, of a champion struggling against the entropic imperative to register the greatest run of sustained success in history, but it’s not. Bayern will, almost certainly, win the title.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1: Who will win titles?

August 14, 2015

“From managerial changes at some of the continent’s biggest clubs to long-running transfer sagas, it has been a hectic summer of activity across Europe. The season has already begun in France, Germany kick off their league campaign this weekend, while Spain and Italy start the following week. So what has changed? Who are the new faces to watch out for and, crucially, what does it all mean for the title races in Europe’s major leagues?” BBC


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