By the Soccer Staff
|Liverpool at Real Madrid||Borussia Dortmund at Manchester City||Paris Saint-Germain at Bayern Munich||Chelsea at Porto|
Liverpool F.C. at Real Madrid C.F.
Spread: Real Madrid (+0, +0.5); O/U: 2.5
Moneyline: Liverpool +135, Real Madrid +200, Draw +250
Time/Location: 3:00 ET, April 6th, Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, Madrid, Spain
Liverpool (LLWWW); 6th in Premier League
The dynastic Reds seem to have disappointed as instead of challenging for silverware, they’re struggling to stay in Europe next season. Liverpool’s mercurial run last season isn’t doing them any good as injuries and inconsistency have kept them out of the running for pretty much any trophy this season. Be it van Dijk, Gomez, Henderson, Thiago, Matip, Origi, or any of the others to suffer absences along the way, the team has been impacted greatly and it shows in the results. Of course we can’t expect every season to be record-inducing, but this fall off is quite sharp.
I’m not sure if we’ll see Firmino or Jota heading the formation against Real Madrid, but we can expect to see the African stars attacking the goal on the flanks. This game will fall on Mané and Salah if the side is set to win in Spain and their impact will be vital. If they’re neutralized, I doubt Liverpool will be able to find another avenue on goal, but if they can stay potent and unlock the flanks, the rest of the field will open up. Even without the star center backs, Liverpool still has the midfield to dictate this match and I expect to see them prod the injured Real defense. If they can control their chances and unleash the Africans, they’ll win the match.
Real Madrid (DWWWW); 2nd in La Liga
I had predicted Real Madrid to win the title this season after a dominant run to close 2020’s campaign, but things have not gone quite to plan. Eden Hazard has yet to find fitness, Sergio Ramos is seemingly feeling time catching up with him, and the youth academy has not produced the support that La Masia has given their rivals. However Zinedine Zidane’s men are closing in. Their legendary midfield is playing extremely well right now and Karim Benzema is playing well enough that the media aren’t abusing him, meaning he’s in top form. Unfortunately, the defense is just shot right now. Varane, Ramos, and Carvajal are all missing the fixture and that won’t bode well against Liverpool’s front three.
I know I said that Liverpool have the manpower to control the midfield, but in a way Real Madrid’s unit is just better. They’re more talented and experienced and I expect them to do more with less than Liverpool’s men. The technicality of La Liga will prove to be a deciding factor at points against the inexperienced center backs of Liverpool and the poor defending from their wing backs. Yes, Real Madrid might struggle to keep possession and keep the ball moving towards Alisson, but they’re not going to make it easy to work through their midfield buffer. This game will be dictated in the counters and I think there’s a good chance Real Madrid can keep up if that’s the case.
Analysis and Pick
Real Madrid and Liverpool are two of the most storied clubs in European history, so it’s a shame they’re meeting on such hampered terms. It’s going to be difficult to predict a winner, but luckily there’s another avenue to pursue in the betting sense. I said that I expect this game to be won in the counters and with these defenses, there ought to be plenty of them. Real Madrid will be putting a lot of pressure on Liverpool’s center backs and that will leave space behind for Salah and Mané to be released by the wing back, which in turn will leave Liverpool exposed, which in turn… you get it, right? Lot’s of back and forth with pacey counters. That makes for a lot of chances and with these finishers, goals. Take the over 2.5 goals in this match.
Borussia Dortmund at Manchester City F.C.
Spread: City (-1.5); O/U: 3
Moneyline: Dortmund +870, City -310, Draw +475
Time/Location: 3:00 ET, April 6th, City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, England
Borussia Dortmund (LDWDL); 5th in Bundesliga
Every season for the past decade Borussia Dortmund has aimed to usurp the powers that be in Germany. While they’ve tasted success before, it’s been many years since they’ve won serious silverware. This season looked promising with a crop of young stars coming together to form a super team of sorts, but the side dematerialized from the top down and saw Lucien Favre ejected for current coach Edin Terzić. Things haven’t been much cleaner with Terzić in charge and any hopes of a league title are dashed, but there’s still an opportunity to do some damage in Europe. If only they didn’t draw the world’s best side…
Dortmund will be missing some key names like Axel Witsel andJadon Sancho, making a tall task even taller, and a poor run of form sees them in bad shape anyways. Is there a way to win this tie? Yes. Erling Håland is one of the best young strikers in the world and is scoring at one of the highest clips in history, only currently rivaled by Polish hitman Robert Lewandowski. I doubt Dortmund can stop Manchester City from scoring, so they’ll have to try keeping pace. I think the physicality of Rúben Dias will cause problems for the Norwegian, but if there’s someone who can unlock, or maybe smash the lock, that is City’s defense, it’s Håland.
Manchester City (WWWWW); 1st in Premier League
If you’re following football closely, there’s just not much to say about Manchester City at the moment. Pep Guardiola has proven again that he’s the best coach of the modern era and he’ll go down in history as one of the best of all time. The construction and maintenance of this roster without spending ridiculous amounts of money has been an exhibition on how to be dominant, and it’s the third time he’s done it in his career. Manchester City is set for their third Premier League title in four years and seem poised to make their best run at the Champions League they’ve ever had. This season isn’t about England, it’s about Europe, and that should worry the rest of the field.
Manchester City is healthy all the way down the roster for this match. It’s well known that it’s a fool’s errand to guess who will be playing on any given day, but we can assume the staples will be taking part. İlkay Gündoǧan has been the best midfielder in the world for the past couple months, Kevin de Bruyne is world class at every turn, we’ve already talked about Rúben Dias, and Phil Foden is coming together like the nightmare opposing fans hoped he wouldn’t become. Right now Manchester City is operating the best back line and the best midfield in world football and it’s not really close. Put the murderer’s row of scorers in front of them and you have a Grade A Title Machine. The Quadruple is in order.
Analysis and Pick
Zack Lambert’s Best Bets: Manchester City -1.5 It’s always a risky bet to go against the firepower of Borussia Dortmund, but I can’t see them keeping this game close at the Etihad. City has dominated England and the world since the addition of Dias and I don’t believe Dortmund has any capability to change that. Håland might score, but City will take this game with ease.
Matt Szeliga’s Best Bet: Over 3 Borussia Dortmund has relied on their high octane offense to move into the Quarter Finals of this competition and will look to follow a similar tactics against arguably the best team in world football this season, Manchester City.
Paris Saint-Germain F.C. at FC Bayern Munich
Spread: Bayern (-.5); O/U: 3 (O -106, U -114)
Moneyline: PSG +280, Bayern -108, Draw +295
Time/Location: 3:00 ET, April 7th, Fußball Arena München, Munich, Germany
Paris Saint-Germain (DLWWL); 2nd in Ligue 1
PSG won their Round of 16 aggregate by a final of 5-2 over Barcelona. Since the first leg of that matchup, they’ve been fairly underwhelming. They lost 2-1 to Nantes on March 14th and dropped a 1-0 match to Lille this past weekend. Kylian Mbappe leads the charge for the French side. He’s scored 20 goals over 22 Ligue 1 starts while him and Neymar each have six goals in this Champions League run. Keylor Navas will have the goalie responsibilities today. He’s earned two clean sheets through eight UCL starts and 12 out of 23 Ligue 1 outings have been scoreless.
Bayern Munich (WWWWW); 1st in Bundesliga
The Champs have been firing on all cylinders recently. They demolished Lazio in the Round of 16 by an aggregate score of 6-2 and followed that up with two clean sheets in league play against VfB Stuttgart and RB Leipzig. They won those games by a combined 5-0. The Man of the Year, Robert Lewandowski is making his case again this season. He’s notched 35 goals over 24 Bundesliga starts to go along with five goals over six matches in the UCL this campaign. Unfortunately, Lewandowski will miss today’s match (knee) and German powerhouse will be without Serge Gnarby as he tested positive for Coronavirus. No Corentin Tolisso or Douglas Costa as well.
Analysis and Pick
Trent Pruitt’s Best Bet: Under 3 (-114): These two squads faced off in Lisbon in the 2020 UCL Final where Kingsley Coman scored the lone goal of the match and brought Bayern Munich their sixth Champions League title. As for today, there is plenty of talent on the pitch but Bayern not having Bobby Lew to finish opportunities leads me to believe we might be in for a “less aggressive approach” from Hansi Flick. Not to say they still won’t attack, but I don’t think they’ll want to bring as many men forward and be caught on counter attacks. Manuel Neuer is coming off of two straight clean sheets and facing a PSG side that was unable to score against Lille this past weekend. I’ll say we’re in for a 1-0 match to Bayern or 1-1 draw. But I like the under to hit and definitely don’t see four goals unless the referee decides to make his presence known and starts handing out penalties.
Chelsea F.C. at FC Porto
Spread: Chelsea (-1); O/U: 2.5
Moneyline: Chelsea -130, Porto +410, Draw +250
Time/Location: 3:00 ET, April 7th, Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Seville, Spain
Chelsea (WDWWL); 4th in Premier League
Chelsea have been the hottest team in the second-half of the Premier League season under new leadership of Thomas Tuchel. They have gotten themselves squarely in the mix for one of the top 4 spots in the Premier League, particularly behind an all-world defense; they have not allowed more than a single goal in 12 of their last 13 matches, a streak that was only recently snapped last weekend vs. West Brom. They also have a red-hot Olivier Giroud at the front, who has scored 6 times in the Champions League in just 5 appearances, leading the team.
Porto (WLWWW); 2nd in Primeira Liga
Porto are fresh off of the upset of the round of 16, beating Juventus on away goals in a rollercoaster 4-4 tie. They are still the underdogs here, and for good reason; nearly every metric says that they are the worst team left in the field (xG, Power Index), and were fortunate to get by the Italian giants (they lost 3.8-2.7 in xG over the two legs in the round of 16). The Portugese giant-slayers will have to rely on continued high-level play from their center backs, Pepe and Chancel Mbemba, who were great against Juve, if they are going to take Chelsea to deep water in this tie.
Analysis and Pick
Logan Sella’s Best Bet: Even though they are on the road, Chelsea on the ML at -130 is the play here. I am not going to be scared off by the recent 5-2 loss over the weekend; Thiago Silva has to leave the game due to a red card, and the Blues back line has been nearly historically great as of late. They were unbeaten for the last 2 months, including 5 consecutive clean sheets prior to Saturday.
This is a bad matchup for a Porto side that were able to capitalize on Juventus errors in the last round; 2 of their 4 goals were very fluky, one on a cheap giveaway and the other on a long free-kick that went under the wall. They will also be missing their focal point in attack, striker Mehdi Taremi, as he is suspended due to his red card in the second leg vs. Juve.
Chelsea and their stalwart defense will travel well and put the clamps on the hosts, and will get their away goal in a win.