I’m not a huge fan of international soccer outside of the premier tournaments. If it’s the World Cup, Euros, Copa America, or Gold Cup, I’ll go out of my way to watch. International friendlies and qualifiers, on the other hand? Maybe, if the matchup is right, or I have nothing else going on.
It’s why I don’t enjoy international breaks during the season. As a fan, my only goal every break is that none of the players on my favorite teams get hurt while they’re away. In that sense, this was a terrible break for plenty of us.
Neymar tore his ACL, and while his move to Saudi Arabia already felt like a retirement, this latest injury could mean we’ve seen the last of Neymar playing in an important match. No matter what you think of him, that sucks. Napoli lost Victor Osimhen for four to six weeks to a hamstring injury he suffered playing with Nigeria. Liverpool has lost Andy Robertson until sometime in 2024 due to a shoulder injury.
If we were to rank international breaks of the last few years, this one would rank near the bottom. Let’s hope our return to club play provides far more entertainment and fewer injuries.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Torino vs. Inter Milan
Date: Saturday, Oct. 21 | Time: 12 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+
Inter enter the weekend two points behind AC Milan in the standings, but there’s a lot of season left to play, and I remain convinced Inter are the best team in Italy. The gap isn’t as significant as the 5-1 win over AC Milan earlier this season would indicate, but it’s not that far off, either. The primary difference between the two is their defending, and Inter have been a brick wall away from home this season.
They are yet to allow a goal in three road matches in league play (they allowed one at Real Sociedad in the Champions League) and have an xG allowed of only 1.6 in those three matches, so it’s not like they’ve been overly lucky. As for Torino, they got off to a solid start, picking up seven points in their first four matches, but they’ve been extremely underwhelming in four matches since. They’ve scored one goal in those four matches, and I don’t see much of a path toward victory here. The Pick: Inter (-140)
Chelsea vs. Arsenal
Date: Saturday, Oct. 21 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET | Watch: NBC
First of all, shout out to Arsenal for coming through with that +205 ticket against Manchester City before the break. I appreciate it for both the winnings and the satisfaction of knowing my read of the situation was correct. This is a match where I have a similar feeling, though it’s about Chelsea and the total.
It’s been coming all year. Chelsea were racking up the xG numbers and never scoring, then the dam broke against Burnley. Chelsea finished with four goals on an xG of 1.9 to cash in some of the luck they were owed, and they’re a team that’s improving under Mauricio Pochettino as everybody gets comfortable with one another. They’re not so comfortable that I expect Chelsea to win this match, but enough to think they’ll get on the board. That, combined with Chelsea’s defending remaining suspect, has me thinking we’ll see a good number of goals scored here. The Pick: Over 2.5 (-113)
AC Milan vs. Juventus
Date: Sunday, Oct. 22 | Time: 2:45 p.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+
I mentioned earlier that I would take Inter over AC Milan because of Inter’s defending compared to Milan’s. To be clear, Milan aren’t a terrible defensive team, but I wouldn’t call them good. Their xG allowed of 7.4 in Serie A play ranks seventh in the league. It’s hard to win leagues with that kind of performance. Juventus has the best defense in the league, but great performances against the bottom of the league have inflated those numbers. As the competition strengthens, Juve’s defense weakens.
It’s all got me thinking things could get a bit sideways here. Milan strike me as a team that needed the break because things had begun to get a bit stale in their two matches before it. There are too many dangerous players in attack for this team for the goal drought of the last two matches to last very long. I toyed with taking the alternate total of 3.5 here, but the price is good enough at 2.5 that there’s no need to push it. The Pick: Over 2.5 (+115)
It’s only three legs this week, but +136 is a nice payday.
- Liverpool (-265)
- Bayern Munich (-425)
- Girona (-255)