The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals conclude this week on Paramount+, and after going 3-1 in my picks for the first legs, I'm hoping to, at a minimum, repeat that performance this week. I prefer going 4-0, however.
Betting the second legs of tournaments like the Champions League is different than betting on a regular match. Since the two matches are scored on aggregate, everybody is entering the match with different objectives. It's not as important for some teams to win this week's match as it is not to lose by a certain margin, or if you are going to lose by two goals, make sure it's a 3-1 loss and not a 2-0 loss.
All of these variables must be considered, and after doing so, these are the picks I believe to be the best for our four matches. All odds via William Hill.
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Chelsea vs. Porto, Tue. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
The final score of the first match was somewhat misleading. Chelsea won 2-0, but the expected goals (xG) were 1.5-1.0 Chelsea. Porto had plenty of chances. In fact, Porto had more shots overall (13 to six) and more shots on goal (five to three) than Chelsea did. Now, Porto enter the second leg needing to score two goals at a minimum, and will play accordingly.
Porto entered this round as the biggest longshot to win the tournament, but haven't been a pushover. Chelsea were only the second team to keep a clean sheet against them in the competition, with Manchester City being the other. They've scored 14 goals in nine matches, and I fully expect them to get at least one this week. Of course, Porto's aggressiveness will give Chelsea plenty of chances to counter, and they're plenty capable of answering. The Pick: Both Teams to Score (-115)
PSG vs. Bayern Munich, Tue. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
First of all, I'd like to thank both teams for making the Over 3.5 so easy last week. I considered it again this week, but I believe PSG will take a much more conservative approach, and for good reason. PSG were a bit lucky last week! They won 3-2, but Bayern dominated much of the match, winning the xG battle 3.1-1.5. Bayern had a ridiculous 31 shots in the match, with 12 on goal. PSG only had six shots, but were incredibly efficient with them. I'm not sure Keylor Navas can come up with 10 saves again.
Plus, with Bayern trailing by a goal on aggregate and PSG scoring three away goals, Bayern have to come out full speed ahead. So when I look at how many goals Bayern should've scored in the first match, what they need to do in the second, and that price on this prop, I'm calling my shot. Bayern gets at least three. The Pick: Bayern Munich Over 2.5 goals (+210)
Dortmund vs. Man City, Wed. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
Manchester City lost to Leeds United 2-1 over the weekend, despite Leeds being down to 10 men for the second half. Don't read too much into it, though, because while Leeds fans won't want to hear it, it was truly a fluke result. Leeds had two shots on goal in the match and scored on both. More important than all of that is the reason Leeds were able to pick up the fluke win. Because even with the Premier League wrapped up and a more important Champions League match looming, Manchester City still played to win. Man City always plays to win. They're like a shark. If they stop swimming, they'll die.
So, even though Man City have a 2-1 lead after the first leg, they also know that Dortmund scored a goal in the match, so all Dortmund needs to do is be ahead 1-0 after 90 minutes, and to advance. So Man City knows it has to score one goal, but one goal is never enough for Man City. They'll score at least two, and maybe more. The juice is heavy on this one, but not heavy enough. The Pick: Manchester City Over 1.5 goals (-170)
Liverpool vs. Real Madrid, Wed. 3 p.m. (Paramount+)
What a week it's been for Real Madrid. First, despite missing captain Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane on defense and Eden Hazard in attack, Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the first leg. Then, Madrid went and beat Barcelona 2-1 in El Clasico over the weekend despite missing all those same players. Now they have a chance to finish Liverpool off for good, and I don't know how many teams have ever had the chance to say "we beat Liverpool twice and Barcelona in an eight-day stretch" before, but it can't be many.
But I don't know that Real Madrid will win this match because they don't have to. Liverpool need to beat Real Madrid by at least two goals to advance, but that will be hard to do considering Liverpool's defensive problems (which showed up in that 3-1 Madrid win last week). Liverpool will need to push, giving a speedster like Madrid's Vinicius Junior more opportunities to crush Liverpool on the counter. I see another high-scoring affair in order, but I'm playing it a little safer by going Over 2.5 instead of 3.5. There's better value here. The Pick: Over 2.5 (-170)