3/11 Results: Most times I am able to shrug off a day of bad picks. It happens to everyone in every walk of life. Whether it be you made the wrong pick at your office cafeteria or two league-leading clubs combine to put a healthy helping of poop in their pants on a Sunday afternoon, mishits are bound to occur. But I needed a reset after my latest sojourn in stupidity. Porto and Napoli’s performances left me gobsmacked. Now it is about to snow again on the east coast and the dreaded Champions League is back. So instead of diving back in with both feet, I am going to dip one foot back into the proceedings and dangle the other in a competition that brought me one of my few successes in PFATP so far.
My picks: Napoli 2 Inter Milan 1 (Napoli -0.5)
Porto 3 Pacos de Ferreira 0 (Porto -1.5)
Actual Results: Napoli 0 Inter Milan 0
Pacos de Ferreira 1 Porto 0
So let’s get our Champion(ship) on this blustery Tuesday!
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Shakhtar Donetsk @ AS Roma (3:45 PM ET/Fox Deportes, Facebook Live, fuboTV, Fox Soccer Match Pass)
These teams weren’t even supposed to be here. When you looked at the group stage draws, nobody could have predicted either Roma or Shakhtar Donetsk would make the knockout rounds. The Italians were slotted with EPL champions Chelsea and perennial Champions League powerhouses Atletico Madrid. Ukraine’s premier outfit found themselves in between Napoli and Manchester City. But both orange-clad squads navigated their way through troubled waters and drew each other.
From what I saw in highlights because I was too busy watching the physical embodiment of Ambien in Sevilla/Man U, Shakhtar took it to Roma in Ukraine. Neither team played with any fear and let their attacks loose. Shakhtar won the first leg, but Roma struck first with a pivotal away goal through Cengiz Under. Remember that name because it should feature prominently for Roma for the foreseeable future.
But don’t expect Shakhtar to just capitulate and allow the more recognizable name to pass them by. In fact, Roma is the only team to beat keeper Andriy Pyatov in 2018. Donetsk pride themselves on their defense since their possession-based game makes their back line primarily responsible for nullifying counter attacks. They did so effectively against Napoli and Manchester City, even if they were “weakened sides.”
Even down a goal, Roma is the odds-on favorite to advance. But like Phil Collins, I’m against all odds and going with history (Shakhtar whooped Roma at this stage in 2011, 6-2) and my gut with Shakhtar +1 (per Bovada) and a win straight up (unofficially) for a trip to the quarterfinals.
PREDICTION: Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Roma 1 (Shakhtar +1 goals [-130], Shakhtar Advances [-115])
Cardiff City @ Brentford (3:45 PM ET/ESPN 3, WatchESPN)
You got to love daylight savings time for moving the Champions League and the Championship to the same time slot. Nevertheless, I avoid having to sit through another Manchester United/Sevilla snorer with a trip to England’s second tier.
Cardiff City is knocking on the door of the Premier League after suffering relegation in 2013-14. The Bluebirds are currently second in the Championship but are only three points behind leaders Wolves. There is no hotter team in England’s top few tiers than the Welsh side. Since being knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City, Cardiff has won seven and drawn one.
Brentford, on the other hand, has fallen behind despite three wins out of five. 1-0 losses to Millwall and Leeds aren’t soul-crushing but hurt dearly when those are two of the teams you are battling for the final Championship playoff spot. (Well, maybe not Leeds anymore but at the time.) Nevertheless, the Bees can’t afford to lose this one.
So when I opened up the betting page and saw pick ’em, I took a second to let it sink in. I then looked at the injury lists. Both teams have their losses, but I’d venture to say Brentford’s is worse with defender Andreas Bjelland and midfielder Florian Jozefzoon likely to be out of the starting XI. Then I just stopped thinking.
I’ll take Cardiff to go temporarily top. And as a kicker, since these games usually see both teams get on the scoresheet (six of seven meetings since 2014), I’ll take the over 2.5 total goals (per Bovada) as well. Let’s just hope their last meeting, a 2-0 Cardiff win in Wales, isn’t the start of a new trend.
PREDICTION: Cardiff City 2 Brentford 1 (Cardiff PICK [+115], Over 2.5 total goals [-125])
If you have any games you’d like me to pick over the coming week you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!