Monday, March 4, 2024

Champions League Betting Odds & Projections | Round of 16 Best Bets

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After not much action in the first set of Round of 16 matches, the second set is bound to have more drama, right?

BJ Cunningham and Anthony Dabbundo are here to take you through the latest set of contests with their best bets on the slate, including PSG vs. Bayern Munich.
The pair, part of the Wondergoal podcast crew, will be taking you through the Champions League fixtures, delivering their favorite picks along the way. They’ll also provide their individual model projections for the games.

Cunningham’s Model Projections

Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Liverpool Odds +125
Real Madrid Odds +200
Draw +260
Over/Under 2.5 (-150 / +120)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch CBS
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Cunningham: This is obviously a rematch of the Champions League final last season where Liverpool were by far the better team, but couldn’t take advantage of their chances. Liverpool outshot Real Madrid 24-4, expected goals were 2.2 to 0.9,  but Thibaut Courtois stood on his head, making nine saves and put up a +2.5 post-shot xG +/-. 

Things have changed for Liverpool since that final. Last season, they were only allowing 0.89 xG per match, now they are allowing 1.43 xG per match. The problems continue to exist in the midfield and what they should do is go back to what they did when they had injuries in the midfield and Jurgen Klopp went to a 4-5-1 midblock instead of their usual 4-3-3 high press. It was actually very effective and prevented a lot of teams from beating them in transition.

But if Klopp let’s Real Madrid have the ball for fun, Liverpool have proven they don’t have a good enough defense to sit deep and defend against one of the best attacking sides in the world. 

Liverpool’s defense still hasn’t held an opponent other than Everton under 1.5 expected goals since Leicester on December 30th. Plus, Liverpool against the Big Six plus their two matches against Napoli in the Champions League have allowed 12.7 expected goals in seven matches. 

Real Madrid in La Liga this season are averaging 2.14 xG per 90 minutes. That is the second best mark across Europe’s top five leagues behind only PSG in Ligue 1. They’ve also shown in the Champions League that they are perfectly capable of conceding possession and playing on the counter, which if Liverpool wants to make this match transitional, that will favor Real Madrid. 

The Real Madrid defense has not been good this season. They’ve put up good expected goals numbers in La Liga, allowing only 0.77 npxG per 90 minutes, but a lot of that has come against lesser competition. Against Barcelona, Real Betis, Girona, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal — which are the top five offenses below Real Madrid in La Liga — they have conceded 7.9 expected goals against. Plus, Courtois isn’t really having that great of a season in net, as his post shot xG +/- is at -0.9.

Liverpool’s offense is still one of the best in the Premier League. The Reds are averaging 1.81 npxG per 90 minutes and out of the World Cup break, they have created 15.7 expected goals in eight matches, but have only scored nine goals in the Premier League. It looks like Darwin Nunez is going to be out, but maybe the best news that Liverpool could have gotten is Diogo Jota is back and healthy. We forget how important he was to Liverpool last season, putting up a 0.84 xG + xA per 90 minute rate, which was second on the team behind only Mo Salah. 

I have 3.24 goals projected for this match, so I love the value on Over 2.5 goals at -138 (FanDuel). 
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RB Leipzig vs. Manchester City

RB Leipzig Odds +350
Manchester City Odds -134
Draw +280
Over/Under 2.5 (-138 / +110)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch CBS
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Dabbundo: RB Leipzig are the best defense in Germany by underlying numbers and they’re quite capable of playing out of possession against Manchester City. No defense has allowed fewer shots, fewer shots on goal or a longer average shot distance. They held Bayern Munich to 0.7 xGF in the league meeting with them just after the World Cup break.

Manchester City may have Erling Haaland, but there is still a decline in the production and shot numbers of their wide forwards around him.

As good as the Cityzens are, we’ve seen time and time again that manager Pep Guardiola will opt for a more conservative approach in the Champions League. He’s willing to sacrifice some win probability to make sure his side isn’t vulnerable on the counterattack.

Leipzig will have star forward Christopher Nknunku back fit for this match, although it remains unclear if he will start. Nkunku is an elite dribbler and close control player who can link up effectively with Timo Werner running into the channels beyond City’s fullbacks. City were just a -125 road favorite at Spurs in the Premier League two weeks ago.

Now they’re an even bigger favorite at Leipzig in a match they don’t need to win and against a side that is clearly better than Spurs at the moment. Leipzig is +1.33 xG difference per 90 in Germany since Marco Rose became manager in the fall, and they’re undervalued on Wednesday against Manchester City. I’d bet Leipzig +0.5 at -130 or better.

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