New Contest: Champions League Pick’em

Everybody likes free stuff, especially if that free stuff includes the opportunity to talk smack to friends and enemies. We figured the relaunch of Soccerati.com was a worthy occasion to give something away for just a little effort. All you need do is be able to pick more winners during the Champions League then everyone else.

ESPN is running a Champions League Pick’em contest from the first match through the entire campaign. If you finish with the most points when the latest champion is crowned, we will ship you a jersey from your favorite club. If that club happens to be in the MLS, we reserve the right to mock you while still providing you with free stuff.

The first match is September 18th so get your picks in now. The group is unlocked so players can join later but they will be at a disadvantage (yet still likely to beat most of the Yanks entered). Pass it along, the fun is open to all.

ESPN Champions League Pick’em
Group name: Soccerati.com
Password: soccerati2012 (case sensitive)

Good luck and see you in there.

Place Yer Bets

In previous years, I’d be preparing for the Champions League Final today. By preparing, I mean convincing my boss I need to take a 3-hour lunch break at the Irish Pub near my work. But they moved the Final (Inter Milan v. Bayern Munich) from its traditional Wednesday to Saturday this year, which is a good bit of scheduling moxie, so instead I sit here in the cubicle jonesing for action.

How to remedy that? World Cup futures bets! If, you know, that kind of thing were legal.

I’m not much of a chalk bettor. Boring. I always scoff at the guys jumping around when their 3/5 shot hits the wire first, so I look for value. No wagers on Brazil or Spain for me.

Odds to win:

Brazil +450
Spain +450
England +550
Argentina +900
Germany +1100
Italy +1200
Holland +1200
France +1400
Ivory Coast +2500
Portugal +2500
Chile +4000
Paraguay +5000
Serbia +5000
Ghana +6600
Denmark +8000
Mexico +8000
Uruguay +10000
Greece +10000
Cameroon +10000
Australia +10000
Nigeria +10000
USA +10000
South Africa +12500
Switzerland +15000
Japan +20000
Slovenia +20000
Slovakia +20000
South Korea +20000
Algeria +40000
Honduras +50000
North Korea +75000
New Zealand +100000

England are laughably low. A nod to the furious amount of wagers they will attract and what looks to be easy progression from the group stages. Germany are cooked without Ballack. The Italy price looks good. So would France if they had a different coach. Beyond them, however, you’d have to be a remarkable optimist (or ardent homer) to risk cash on any of the longer shots.

So I’m going with Holland at 12-1. Total Football. I can feel satisfied I am backing a club that will entertain (while at the same time knowing their defensive and psychological frailties). A possible quarterfinal matchup with Brazil doesn’t inspire confidence, but we know the Oranj will go toe-to-toe with the South American heavyweights. Wesley Sneijder has arguably been the best playmaker in the world for Inter this season and, even though all his teammates hate him, Arjen Robbin is in amazing form and has scored huge goals for Bayern.

As long as neither of them pick up a knock in Madrid this Saturday, I’m going Dutch.

Liverpool Fan Freed 4 Years after Conviction for Victory Celebration-turned-Attempted Murder

I didn’t know the original story, but found it kinda interesting to learn how Michael Shields was convicted for the attempted murder of a Bulgarian man after a Liverpool Champions League victory.

Shields — 22 now, 18 at the time he was fingered as the chap who dropped a concrete slab on the head of Martin Georgiev — became the first Brit to receive a Royal Pardon for a crime committed overseas.

He gave a statement upon his release, saying after spending four years in British and Bulgarian prisons for a crime he didn’t commit:

“I knew I would never walk alone.”

Hi, Teams That Will Lose to EPL Clubs in the Champions League!

Champions League Final 2008

The group stage draws for the Champions League are in, and barring a few exceptions, the Premiership clubs again look like the favorites to make deep runs. In case you don’t feel like doing anything strenuous (like clicking a link), here’s some of the more interesting opening round pairings:

Inter and Barcelona in in Group F
Real Madrid and AC Milan in Group C
Unirea Urziceni and VfB Stuttgart in Group G

Wait a minute…

UEFA Champions League Finals: Unicef vs. AIG

GET 85472143MW027_AIG_CEO_TESTIWatchin’ the game … enjoying it thoroughly. And it just occurred to me that Barcelona vs. Manchester Utd. really is a battle of Good vs. Evil, or at least Rich vs. Poor — something that couldn’t be more clear in the two opposing sponsors, Unicef and AIG.

Here we’ve got Unicef, a major international organization that looks out for the poorest children in the world … vs. AIG, the disgraced American banking behemoth with a corporate mission to repay taxpayers all the money their leaders stole/squandered by making as much money as possible off (the fear of) disaster and catastrophe.

unicef