Champions League Preview 4/14
All times EST
Hi everyone! This article will hopefully help to provide you with an insight into tomorrow’s soccer games. With the help of Statsational’s model, we will analyze where there is value and which spots would be best to avoid. Soccer can be a fickle sport, so I typically stick to smaller (0.25-0.5) units. Also, please note that I am not a coach and thus these picks should always be considered unofficial and for fun. Good luck!
As always, if you have questions about any team or matchup, feel free to ask in the free public #soccer channel on the SBA Discord!
3:00pm: Manchester City @ Borussia Dortmund
The quarterfinals of the Champions League continue tomorrow with a second-leg matchup as Manchester City (1st, English Premier League) travels to Borussia Dortmund (5th, German Bundesliga). In the first-leg match last week, Man City secured a narrow 2-1 victory with a late goal by Phil Foden in the 90th minute. While they did possess the ball 61% of the time and managed 11 shots to Dortmund’s 7, it was not the dominating performance that many expected from Man City. They then followed that up with a mind-boggling 1-2 defeat to Leeds, despite having a man advantage for the entire 2nd half. Man City has been nothing short of impressive this season, but they have certainly shown some vulnerability the last couple of outings.
Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, is a talented young team with a lot of future stars led by Norwegian sensation Erling Haaland. Though they have been up and down in the Bundesliga this season, they have the ability to beat anyone on a good day, and with Man City leaving the door open I would look for Dortmund to take some chances in this one to try and get an early counter-attack goal. Man City has one of the best defenses in all of soccer, so Dortmund will try to catch them in transition before they are able to set up.
Looking at the lines for this game, Manchester City is the expected favorite with odds of -167, while Borussia Dortmund comes in at +420. According to the expert model from Statsational, the fair lines for this game should have Man City at -117 and Dortmund at +335. This means we do have a decent amount of value on the home side in this one. Betting on Dortmund means betting against the best team in soccer, however. Despite the last game being closer than expected, I am not willing to take the risk. I do think Man City finds a way to win this game outright and secure their spot in the semifinals against PSG. With no value though, I won’t be betting on this one.
3:00pm: Real Madrid @ Liverpool
The last of our quarterfinal matchups pits host Liverpool (6th, English Premier League) against Real Madrid (2nd, Spanish La Liga). The first-leg matchup saw Real Madrid take a commanding 3-1 lead off the back of a brace of goals from Vinicius Junior. Possession was fairly even in that game, though Real Madrid was able to generate more than twice as many opportunities as Liverpool, leading the shots 16 to 7. It is worth noting that Real Madrid has had a tough few days, with the El Clasico rivalry against Barcelona taking place only three days ago. Real won that game 2-1, but it is worth wondering whether they will be emotionally and physically drained. I personally think this sentiment is a tad overblown, and I do not see Real Madrid relinquishing their two-goal advantage simply because they may be tired.
Liverpool, on the other hand, has been an enigma this season. After a dominating EPL performance last year, they find themselves battling for a top 4 spot lest they fall out of Champions League next season. Liverpool has the talent to compete with anybody, but injuries and inconsistent play have derailed their title defense in the top English league. They have played better in the Champions League, and can of course still qualify next year by winning the whole thing. At the moment, though, they will need to focus on climbing out of their two-goal deficit. Look for Liverpool to press up high to try and force errors from Real Madrid, and get the ball to their playmakers early on. If Liverpool can score an early goal they might gain confidence and be able to pull off the comeback, but Real Madrid is a quality side and will certainly not give in easily.
Liverpool is a -103 favorite in this game, while Real Madrid finds themselves a +245 underdog. Statsational’s model sees the line for Real right on the money, though it thinks Liverpool should be a +117 favorite. I liked Real Madrid in the first-leg, but with a two-goal advantage they may not be as aggressive, especially as the game wears on and they retreat into a defensive shell. I actually do think Liverpool has a chance to win this game, though I don’t see them advancing. Still, with no value on either side, I can’t recommend a bet on this game either. It is disappointing to not have any value on either game tomorrow, but it is important to not force things when it comes to gambling. I do like Liverpool as a potential live bet opportunity if they are unable to score early and the line creeps into the +120 territory. Otherwise, it is probably best to save our money for the many games coming up this weekend.