The UEFA Champions League semifinals conclude this week, with both Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid crossing the English Channel to take on Manchester City and Chelsea. Both English teams are favored to move on and set up an all-England final, but will it happen?
Well, I can't say I know for sure, but I can tell you that I got my picks for both matches right last week, and I'm not changing a whole lot this week. All odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain, Tue. 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network/Paramount+)
I took Manchester City to win in Paris last week, and even when City trailed 1-0 at halftime, I took them at +300 on a live line to win. They did. My thought process at the time was relatively simple. PSG came out guns blazing, playing their best, and yet had Phil Foden buried a chance he scores on nine times out of 10, it still would've been tied 1-1 at halftime. So City's second-half comeback did not surprise me.
Nor will a dominant City performance on Tuesday. PSG were already in a considerable hole considering they're down a goal, and City scored twice, meaning PSG has to score at least twice in this match. Then Kylian Mbappe came down with a calf injury and sat out over the weekend. Now his status is in doubt, but I must point out there was some concern in last week's match, and he played the full 90. There may be some gamesmanship here, and Mbappe -- who traveled with the team -- might be starting and playing on Tuesday.
It's just, I'm not sure how much it will matter. He was largely ineffective in the first match. Mbappe had only 29 touches and didn't register a shot as City's defensive strategy was to take him out of the match, and it succeeded. If Mbappe is less than 100%, and City is again intent on making the rest of PSG beat them, I have a hard time seeing it happen often enough to scare me away from City at this price. Quite honestly, I'm OK with City anywhere down to (-200). The Pick: Manchester City (-140)
Chelsea vs. Real Madrid, Wed. 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network/Paramount+)
OK, so I think we're destined for an all-England final, and I think it will be clinched with a Chelsea victory on Wednesday. The first match might have finished in a 1-1 draw, but it was a misleading 1-1 draw. Karim Benzema's goal was the kind of goal that few people who aren't Karim Benzema are capable of scoring, but he did. Overall, however, Madrid's attack was impotent and couldn't find a way to break through Chelsea's defending.
Real Madrid got nine shots off, but Benzema's goal was the only one on target. Chelsea put five of its 11 shots on goal, explaining the difference in expected goals, as Chelsea won that battle 1.4-0.3.
Chelsea were the better team in nearly every area in the first match, and I don't think much will change Wednesday. It would help Madrid to get both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane back for this match, but what kind of condition will the 35-year old Ramos be in after missing all of April with a calf injury and COVID, and Varane remains a question mark as well? I took the under in the first match, and while I don't hate it here, I think more urgency could lead to more goals being scored. It's just, unfortunately for Real Madrid, I see Chelsea scoring them a lot more often. The Pick: Chelsea (+118)
I'm not advising you to put full units on these plays, but with only the two matches being played, why not have a couple of fun side plays?
Manchester City to win both halves (+320)
Chelsea/Real Madrid 1st goal to be scored in 46th to 60th minute (+600)