Happy Tuesday, dear pal! Hope your week got off to a good start yesterday. If things didn't go the way you'd hoped, today's a new day! I'm here to start you off on the right foot.
Luckily, we've got some help from the Champions League, which is back in action today and promising some juicy second leg fireworks. The semifinal matchups will be set in the coming days so we'll go over where we stand here this morning. We'll also discuss Julian Edelman's retirement, game postponements in Minnesota and NHL trade deadline winners and losers this morning.
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📰 What you need to know
1. Champions League predictions from our experts ⚽
What do ya say we set the table for the Champions League semifinals, huh? That's exactly what will happen this week as four second legs play out over the next couple of days, so strap yourself in and get ready for a good time. Eight teams are still alive right now, but only four can move on to the semis, so things are about to get serious.
After last week's first leg action, four teams are firmly in the driver's seat ... but there's always the possibility of these ties flipping in Leg 2. So, who's got the best chance to overcome their first leg loss and pull off the upset this week? Our James Benge ranks the four squads based on likelihood of a turnaround:
- Bayern Munich (at Paris Saint-Germain, trail 3-2): Defending champion Bayern are talented enough to beat PSG and they generated a bunch of opportunities last week. Unfortunately, they only executed and finished on a few of them. If they limit PSG's damage and convert on a few more of their own chances, they could stay alive
- Liverpool (home vs. Real Madrid, trail 3-1): The odds are stacked against Liverpool here but it wasn't long ago when the Reds overcame an even greater deficit against Barcelona, winning 4-0 in a second leg after losing the opener 3-0. They should play better this week but they'll almost certainly have to shut out Madrid -- a tough task with two inexperienced center backs in the lineup
- Borussia Dortmund (home vs. Manchester City, trail 2-1): They've got the toughest opponent of the quartet, as City plays fantastic defense and can beat you a number of ways on attack. City didn't even play all that well in the first leg and they were still unquestionably the better side. That doesn't bode well for Dortmund
- Porto (at Chelsea, trail 2-0): Nobody in the UCL has taken fewer shots or scored fewer goals than Porto, so erasing the sizeable gap that Chelsea established in the first leg will be an extremely difficult task. The Blues might be one of the toughest opponents to face in Europe right now
There could be plenty of drama over the next few days so you'd be wise to brush up on some of the storylines before the action gets underway. And in case you need some help deciding who to back, our group of experts have made their picks and predictions.
Today we've got PSG-Bayern and Porto-Chelsea on the slate, so enjoy the show -- which you can watch on Paramount+ -- and we'll be right back here tomorrow morning to discuss/recap before looking ahead to the remaining two matches.
2. Julian Edelman retires from NFL 🏈
My New England Patriots have bid adieu to another key star from their dynasty years, as Julian Edelman announced his retirement from football yesterday. The news came shortly after it was announced that the Patriots released him due to a failed physical, which presumably stemmed from the knee surgery that Edelman underwent last year.
- Edelman: "I've always said, 'I'll go until the wheels come off,' and they finally have fallen off ... It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot."
Edelman's story is an incredible one -- a seventh-round draft pick converted to wide receiver after playing quarterback in college, he played 12 seasons and went on to become one of the most reliable and productive receivers in Patriots history, and one of the most clutch playoff performers in league history.
- Edelman finishes with 670 catches (2nd most in Patriots history), 6,822 receiving yards (4th) and 36 touchdowns (9th)
- He ranks 2nd all time in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions and 1,442 career postseason receiving yards
- He's a three-time Super Bowl champion and earned Super Bowl LIII MVP honors (1 of 7 wide receivers to win SB MVP)
After Edelman hung 'em up yesterday, our Bryan DeArdo examined where he ranks among the NFL's best seventh-round picks, and Jules ended up slotting into the No. 9 slot.
There was already some discussion yesterday about whether Edelman might be a Hall of Famer but, even as a Patriots fan, it seems like a stretch. He's one of the greatest Patriots ever and deserves a lifetime enshrinement in Foxboro, but probably not Canton. Still, the guy was tough as nails and an incredible competitor and he'll go down as one of my favorite Pats of all time.
3. Games in Minnesota postponed amid protests
The Twins, Timberwolves and Wild were all scheduled to play home games in Minnesota yesterday but all three teams ultimately postponed those contests as a result of Sunday's police killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man. Wright was killed by police after being pulled over for a traffic violation in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday afternoon.
The postponements come amidst civil unrest in the Minneapolis area, as protestors and law enforcement clash in the wake of Wright's killing. The city implemented a 7 p.m. curfew on Monday night.
- The Twins released a statement saying it was in the "best interests" of fans, staff, players, and the community to postpone Monday's game vs. the Red Sox
- The Wild said they postponed their game against the Blues "out of respect for the community"
- The Timberwolves said postponing their games against the Nets was the "best decision" for the mourning community
As of right now, this week's remaining games in the city are up in the air.
Sunday's incident occurred just miles away from where George Floyd was killed during an arrest last May. Derek Chauvin, the officer being charged with Floyd's murder, is currently on trial.
4. Winners and losers of the NHL trade deadline 🏒
You see these extra dark circles under my eyes this morning? These are the result of a long day of tracking NHL trade deadline news yesterday. And by "tracking trade deadline news" do I mean sitting at my computer and relentlessly pounding the Twitter refresh button? Of course I do. It's more exhausting than it sounds.
Unfortunately, the day was a bit of a letdown in terms of entertainment value, although that was pretty much expected after the flurry of big-name moves we got in the days leading up to Monday's cutoff. There were some interesting deals, but the 17 trades made on Monday is the lowest number of deals on a deadline day since 2000.
Still, there were winners and losers of the deadline, so let's highlight a few of each:
- Winner: Boston Bruins -- The Bruins may have had the best deadline in terms of value deals. They landed Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly without having to give up a first-round pick or any major players/prospects. Hall's value has never been lower, but he'll have a shot at redemption with much better players around him in Boston
- Loser: Edmonton Oilers -- The Oilers, who should be desperate to make some sort of run in the next few years, did nothing outside of picking up an extra defenseman in Dmitry Kulikov. That means no help for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who will have to continue carrying Edmonton offensively. You can't be considered a serious contender without depth and the Oilers are once again setting themselves up to fail
- Winner: Blue Jackets -- They've now got three 1st-rounders this year (including their own) after doing well with the returns for Nick Foligno and David Savard. They also added three picks next year. That's some good reloadin'
- Loser: Washington Capitals -- I really like the addition of Anthony Mantha, who should be a strong fit, but I don't love what it cost. Giving up two high draft picks and a good player (Jakub Vrana) in order to save some money and bring in a player who is marginally better is a big-time gamble
📝 Odds & Ends
- Remember yesterday when I said the Red Sox aren't half bad? Well, they've jumped 22 spots in our latest MLB Power Rankings
- Jamal Murray suffered a non-contact knee injury during last night's game against the Warriors
- A Jaguars fan found Trevor Lawrence's wedding registry and bought him a $300 toaster
📺 What to watch today
🏒 Flyers vs. Capitals, 7 p.m. | WSH -160 | TV: NBCSN
⚾ Phillies vs. Mets, 7:40 p.m. | TV: FS1
🏀 Celtics vs. Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. | POR -1 | TV: TNT
🥇 The best thing I saw yesterday
For the second straight night, Ronald Acuna had a ridiculous baserunning highlight. This time, he scored on a pop-up to the second baseman.