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Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Featuring Atlético Madrid & Villarreal (March 15-16)

Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Featuring Atlético Madrid & Villarreal (March 15-16) article feature image
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Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images. Pictured: Villarreal standout Gerard Moreno.

Four of the first eight Champions League knockout rounds are completed, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid going through to the quarterfinal round.

While three of the Round of 16 ties weren’t too exciting, Real Madrid’s comeback against Paris Saint-Germain made up for all of it.

KARIM BENZEMA MAKES HISTORY WITH A HAT-TRICK!

Real lead and Benzema is now the third top scorer in Real history, tied with the great Alfredo Di Stefano. 💥 pic.twitter.com/DlXbmPRXGT

— Watch Mexico vs. USA on Paramount+ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 9, 2022

The rest of the quarterfinal clubs will be decided this week, with three of the four ties square on aggregate heading into the second leg. The only matchup somewhat out of reach is the one featuring Chelsea and Lille. The Blues have a 2-0 lead on the French outfit, but with all of the off-field stuff happening for the Blues, who knows what will happen in Wednesday’s showdown.

If you are reading this article for the first time, I will be putting out these projections every week there are Champions League matches until the end of the tournament. If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projected lines and totals using an expected-goals model, you can read about it here.

For Champions League, my projections factor in UEFA Coefficients for every country represented in the competition. The projections also factor in the talent of each squad based on their total transfer value on TransferMarkt. That way, the projections can account for the strength of the domestic league each club plays in and talent level of each club.

You can use these projections to identify betting value on current lines, plus follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make during the week.

Champions League Projections

Best Bets

Man United vs. Atlético Madrid

Man United Odds +110
Atlético Madrid Odds +260
Draw +225
Over/Under 2.5 (+115 / -165)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Manchester United absolutely stole a draw in the first leg with Atlético Madrid. The Spanish side was far and away the better team, winning on expected goals by a 1.3-0.4 margin, out-touching them in the penalty area via a 21-9 edge and even hit the post twice in the stalemate.

Sure, Manchester United beat Tottenham this weekend, but it wasn’t the better team in that game either. Spurs defeated them on xG (1.4-1.0) and outshot their hosts despite suffering the 3-2 defeat.

The Red Devils have played three matches against elite competition under manager Ralf Rangnick: the first leg against Atlético Madrid, plus games against Manchester City and Tottenham. They only created 1.9 xG, but scored four times in those contests.

Defensively, Atlético Madrid has been in really good form over the past month or so, allowing only 4.7 xG in its last six matches. However, that’s really par for the course for the club’s season, considering it’s third among Europe’s top-five leagues in xGA overall.

JOAO FELIX. DIVING HEADER. 💥

Incredible cross from Lodi. Incredible finish from Felix. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/wCFh1g3sbW

— Watch Mexico vs. USA on Paramount+ (@CBSSportsGolazo) February 23, 2022

One thing that was very noticeable and has been the case for Manchester United on the defensive side is defending crosses. In the first leg, Atlético Madrid completed three crosses in the penalty area, with Joao Felix scoring on one of them. Manchester City completed four crosses in the penalty area, scoring two of them. Tottenham completed one cross in the penalty area and it turned into an own goal from defender Harry Maguire. 

Manchester United was supposed to turn into this great pressing team under the godfather of the tactical approach. However, the Red Devils only had a 26% pressure success rate against Atlético Madrid in the first leg; a 13% pressure success rate against Manchester City; and, a 26% pressure success rate against Spurs. 

So, even though United has a good record overall under Rangnick, this team hasn’t changed a bit when it has to face elite competition. 

I have Atlético Madrid projected as a slight favorite at Old Trafford, so I love its spread of +0.5 at -135 odds via Caesars and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Atlético Madrid +0.5 (-135)

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Juventus vs. Villarreal

Juventus Odds -110
Villarreal Odds +300
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (+100 / -140)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Once again, Villarreal is drastically undervalued against Juventus.

Sure, The Old Lady scored 30 seconds into the first leg, but for the remaining 89 minutes and 30 seconds, Villarreal completely dominated the match. The Yellow Submarine won the xG battle by comfortable 1.1-0.5 margin, outshot their foes and out-touched them in the penalty area.

Since the UCL group stage ended, Villarreal has put up some of the best underlying metrics across Europe. Since Dec. 10, Villarreal is averaging 1.95 xG per match, while only allowing 0.93 xG per game. On the flip side, Juventus is averaging 1.1 xG per tilt, while allowing 1.05 xG per contest in the same span.

Villarreal 1-1 Juventus: A perfect start for Juve, with Dusan Vlahović's #UCL debut goal on 33 seconds, but they were unable to build upon that and Villarreal found a way back into the game.

Perfectly poised for the second leg… pic.twitter.com/Jm2LZ6d2OH

— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) February 22, 2022

The thing about Juventus is its defense hasn’t been elite whatsoever this season in Serie A or Champions League play. In the Italian top flight, Juventus is ninth in shots allowed per 90 minutes, eighth in box entries conceded and 10th in crosses completed in their own penalty area, per fbref.com.

So, it’s a little crazy Villarreal is this significant of an underdog considering it has drastically better underlying metrics than Juventus and play in a much more difficult league, based on UEFA Coefficients

I have this match projected very close to a Pick’em, so I love Villarreal getting +0.5 on the spread line at -108 via PointsBet and will make it my top selection.

Pick: Villarreal +0.5 (-108)

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