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Tottenham vs Man City, UEFA Champions League quarterfinals begin Tuesday with an all-England clash as Tottenham plays its first European game inside its new stadium against mighty Manchester City in the first leg. Spurs beat Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate in the round of 16 to move on, while Manchester City dominated Schalke to easily move on to this stage.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City
UEFA Champions League,Quarterfinals
Place: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – London, ENG
Time: 3:00pm ET
Tottenham: From Feb. 22 to April 2, Tottenham won just one game in all competitions. But the team did get a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday to build a little bit of momentum. Spurs enter this one as a heavy underdog though, having lost 1-0 to City in their first Premier League meeting of the season. Just two goals from City would put them in a rough spot.
Man. City: This may be the year City gets over the hump in Europe, but first the team will have to see off a talented Spurs side. Going on the road, obviously a victory would be ideal, but they’ll also be thrilled with a draw with goals to give them an advantage ahead of the second leg. City is also expected to get Sergio Aguero back for this one after the Argentine trained on Monday.
A 1-1 draw as Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne score, giving Pep Guardiola’s team the edge ahead of next week’s return leg in Manchester.
The new stadium factor will definitely play a part for City, who have struggled away from home in knockout ties under Guardiola, although big away matches this season suggest that he has learnt from past mistakes.
Many expect City to blow Spurs away but it certainly won’t be easy. A draw would be a good result for both, with Guardiola eyeing an away goal or two to take home to the Etihad.
Pick: Draw (+300)
Liverpool vs Porto in UEFA Champions League – Quarterfinals, Liverpool’s European dream continues on Tuesday at home as Porto visits Anfield for the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. Jurgen Klopp’s team defeated Bayern Munich in the round of 16, 3-1 on aggregate, while Porto upset Roma to advance. Liverpool enters the tie as the heavy favorite to move on, but Porto knows all about being a dark horse in this competition.
Liverpool vs FC Porto
UEFA Champions League,Quarterfinals
Place: Anfield – Liverpool, ENG
Time: 3:00pm ET
Liverpool: The Reds got some good news on Friday in the 3-1 win at Southampton as Mohamed Salah scored for the first time in nine games. That allows their star to enter this clash with a bit more confidence and a tad less pressure. The Reds will look to improve at home in the competition, drawing Bayern Munich 0-0 at Anfield in the round of 16. Klopp will likely look to end this draw ahead of the second leg with a goal fest.
Porto: Tough task. A draw, especially one with goals, will feel like a win. But even a 2-1 loss is something they may sign up for, showing they can come back from that result as they did against Roma in the last round. Porto is talented, the team has plenty of veterans, but the club is outmatched here. Iker Casillas’ leadership and experience will be key.
The Reds win 3-0 to put this one pretty much in the bag ahead of next week’s second leg.
Porto should not be undermined but Liverpool should blow them away. Sergio Conceicao will set up his Porto team to be resolute, but the attacking prowess should be too much for them to handle.
Pick: Liverpool (-335)
Daytona 500 : Predictive analytics get better all the time, but every now and then, it’s essential to take a breath and appreciate the uncertainties that remain with us in sports. Competition always involves both skill and luck, and our greatest joys and deepest agonies as fans usually come from watching them collide. In the case of the Daytona 500, coming up on Feb. 17, I mean that literally.
Daytona truly is a place where anyone can win. In 2013, Tim Chartier, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Davidson College, and Brian McGue, then a Davidson student and now a software engineer, studied the order of drivers at various points in a series of NASCAR events. They found that where drivers ranked during Daytona races had essentially no bearing on where they ended up until very late in contests. For instance, the correlation between the standings after 475 miles at the 2011 Daytona 500 and the final results was less than 0.2. “This indicates the position a driver was in with only 10 laps to go had no significance to where he eventually finished the race,” wrote Chartier and McGue.
Of course, there’s a good reason for this: In 1987, Bobby Allison went airborne, hurtling into a fence and injuring four fans at Talladega. Since then, the circuit has required restrictor plates — which cut the flow of fuel and air into an engine and reduce its horsepower — at its two superspeedways, Daytona and Talladega. With a front straight of 3,800 feet and a back straight of 3,000 feet, Daytona’s oval is long enough that today’s cars could probably break 225 mph if left unimpeded. Instead, restrictor plates keep drivers to a maximum speed of about 195 mph. And when they bunch together, races stay close.
As a result, the level of chaos at Daytona is just extraordinary, inside and outside NASCAR. Consider: MLB teams leading after eight innings have gone 6,296-304 over the past three seasons, for a winning percentage of .954. If you are up by a field goal with five minutes left in an NFL game and you have the ball, first-and-10 at the 50-yard line, your win probability is 84.6 percent, according to Pro Football Reference. In most leagues, the best teams build leads that almost (though not quite) always hold up. But 95 percent of the way through the Daytona 500, you typically can’t tell how the drivers are going to place! As far as I can tell, it’s the most random major sports event in America.
The best strategy for drivers at Daytona might be simply to try not to crash for 480 miles or so and only then start to maneuver. But it’s not clear even that is possible.
Avoiding pileups in plate races might not be a persistent talent. In 2015 and 2016, for example, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won a combined five races in 16 Cup events at Daytona or Talladega, leading to speculation they had figured out how to work the superspeedways. In 2017 and 2018, however, Keselowski and Logano suffered eight crashes and finished 20th, on average, at the same tracks. Moreover, accidents are swallowing up more vehicles, as drivers have tried to exploit bunching. In the past two years, cars running in the top six at Daytona were caught in nearly half of multicar crashes, up from just 15 percent before 2017, according to David Smith, who runs the Motorsports Analytics website. “As teams became aware of the safe space the front of the field provided, they placed their focus on moving from the middle to the front,” Smith says — and suddenly, that space isn’t as safe as it used to be.
An entire sport couldn’t run with this degree of randomness — even in your weekend softball league, you want some assurance that results reflect talent and performance. But winning laps at Daytona still counts toward the season’s standings, so there’s incentive for drivers to try to do well, even if they are more prone to losing leads or crashing. And beyond Daytona, the correlation between driver position during races and final standings is much stronger at other tracks. Within the overall context of NASCAR, this one crazy race works for old-school and more casual fans alike. Come for the tradition, stay for the unpredictable fun — or vice versa.
The NBA playoffs and NFL draft will be here soon enough — and NASCAR is lifting its restrictor-plate rules in April. So give yourself a valentine: Enjoy this Daytona 500 without worrying a whit about who’ll win. Because the numbers say nobody knows.
Andrade vs Akavov : Andrade (26-0 16KOs) puts his WBO 160lb crown on the line for the first time against the Russian in New York, and the two-weight World ruler is eager to kick off 2019 with a bang having returned to the ring in style in 2018.
The Rhode Island star picked up the WBO crown with a commanding win over Walter Kautondokwa in Boston in October, flooring the undefeated African dangerman four times in the opening four rounds in his first fight in a year and his first title bout at 160lbs.
Andrade steps straight back into action and face-to-face with the ‘Wolverine’ Akavov (19-2 8KOs), who fights for the strap for the second time having ran previous incumbent Billy Joe Saunders close for the belt December 2016 in Glasgow.
“I’m out there trying to fight the undefeated guys, the champions, that’s what I want,” said Andrade. “I get in there with anyone at 160lbs – and I beat them all. It’s the time for the elite to fight each in 2019, people want to see me fight the big names and I want them.
“It’s going to happen, I am here, I’ve got the World title and I want the best. Akavov is coming to New York to take that title from me so I know that I have to be on my game as he’s a dangerous man, but trust me, when I shine on January 18, we’re going for all the big names next.
“My first fight was meant to be Saunders – an undefeated champion – and then I beat another undefeated fighter to win the title. That’s what I am about and that’s what I want my year to be, champion vs. champion, Demetrius Andrade vs. the best out there.”
One of Matchroom Boxing USA’s rising stars tastes his first action in 2019 on the card as Reshat Mati (2-0 1KO) returns to the scene of his last outing in October where the ‘Albanian Bear’ went the four round distance in his second fight.
Jennings vs Rivas : He’s paired with Philadelphia’s Bryant Jennings, a guy who has taken on Wladimir Klitschko and Luis Ortiz. Both were losing efforts but the former was a game performance. It’s a big jump.
Jennings, like Rivas, wants to press and get behind the jab. He doesn’t mind mixing it up and displays a craft you often see of Philly fighters. “By-By” has long arms (84” reach) for his height (6’3”), too. This, at least on paper, looks as if it may provide enough sustained action to keep a fan’s attention, on top of some adjustments so as not to be a sloppy brawl.
Jennings is coming off of a busy 2018 where he fought three times in the calendar year. In his previous bout, Jennings took on Alexander Dimitrenko in a tougher than expected match. The Philadelphia fighter was knocked down in the fourth round and rallied back scoring three knockdowns en route to a ninth round stoppage victory.
At this time Jennings isn’t considered one of the elite heavyweights in the division who should be up for a title shot. However, his resume is undoubtedly one of the best in the division with victories over Mike Perez and Artur Szpilka.
In 2015, Jennings took on two of the best heavyweights in the world back to back when he faced Wladimir Klitschko in April of 2015 and ended the year by taking on the perceived most feared heavyweight at the time, Luis Ortiz. Jennings lost to Klitschko via unanimous decision, but had his moments against the future Hall of Famer in a competitive bout.
At age 34, Jennings still has plenty of time in continuing to rebuild his career to earn another world title opportunity. In the heavyweight division, many of the top fighters are in there 30’s giving Jennings more time to perfect his craft rather than keep up with younger opponents.
Jennings does have the height and reach advantage standing at six foot three with an 84-inch reach compared to Rivas standing at six feet with a 76 and a half-inch reach. The goal for Top Rank will be to get Jennings back into contention for a heavyweight title. On Friday night another roadblock will be put in front of Jennings to push down.