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Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Atlético Madrid vs. Manchester United (Feb. 22-23)

Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Atlético Madrid vs. Manchester United (Feb. 22-23) article feature image
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Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Champions League action returned last week with a flurry as we saw RB Salzburg almost pull off an upset against German powerhouse Bayern Munich. We also witnessed Kylian Mbappé give Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid at the death of their showdown.

That said, here are the results after the first four Round of 16 matches:

First-leg results this week. Predict which four will go through 👇#UCL pic.twitter.com/JtzaDN4fBa

— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 16, 2022

This week’s fixtures are headlined by a huge game featuring two European giants — Atlético Madrid hosting Manchester United in the Spanish capital.

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

Chelsea vs. Lille

Chelsea Odds -310
Lille Odds +850
Draw +450
Over/Under 2.5 (-145 / +120)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch CBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

This is an interesting encounter between good defensive clubs. Chelsea has been rock solid since their shocking 3-3 draw with Zenit Saint Petersburg. The Blues are starting to display the dominant defense we saw under manager Thomas Tuchel in the second half of last season, as they’re only allowing 0.92 expected goals per match in their last 10 Premier League contests.

And outside of that final match against Zenit, Chelsea only conceded a combined total of 2.6 xG in their other five group-stage matches. 

*(graphic via infogol.net)

On the flip side, the Chelsea offense hasn’t been at the level we normally expect seeing, but it has faced a run of difficult defenses. However, only creating 5.7 xG in their last six matches is a bit concerning. And that’s especially worrisome since they’ll be facing the best defense in France.

Lille is due for a ton of positive regression defensively, as they’ve been really unlucky in Ligue 1 in allowing 35 goals off of 27.4 xG, per fbref.comEven in the UCL group stage, Lille didn’t allow Sevilla, Wolfsburg or RB Salzburg to create more than one non-penalty xG in any of those matches. 

Lille’s traditional 4-4-2 formation sets up perfect for a first leg like this where they’ll be fine with a 0-0 draw and comfortable sitting deep, allowing Chelsea to absorb a large share of the possession and hit them on the counterattack. 

I only have 2.08 goals projected for the first meeting, so I love the total staying under three goals on the Asian Handicap at -140 odds.

Pick: Total Under 3 Goals (-140)


Villarreal vs. Juventus

Villarreal Odds +150
Juventus Odds +200
Draw +220
Over/Under 2.5 (+125 / -150)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Villarreal has been the most impressive team in Spain over the past two months, putting up a +1.17 xGDiff per 90 minutes, which is by far the best mark during that time span. The offensive numbers from the Yellow Submarine are out of this world, averaging 2.3 xG per match in their last 10 outings.

Even this past Saturday in a match against Granada, Villarreal created a whopping 5.4 xG, which is the highest xG output in one match of any team in Europe’s top five leagues this season, per fbref.com.

DANJUMA NUTMEGS THE KEEPER 🐍🤤

A perfect start for Villarreal. Atalanta now need at least two goals to go through 👀 pic.twitter.com/SYEjfPFF4r

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) December 9, 2021

On the other side, Juventus deserved to draw in the Turin derby this past Friday and honestly hasn’t been that impressive, especially against better foes. Against the top seven teams in Italy, plus the two matches against Chelsea in the UCL group stage, Juventus has amassed a -2.9 xGDiff in the process.

The biggest problem is their offense is definitely not at the level people expect, as they’re only averaging 1.17 NPxG per match, which is 11th in the Italian top flight.

Yes, they have Dusan Vlahovic now, but his drastic over-performance of 18 goals off of 13.8 xG isn’t going magically turn around the offense, especially with Federico Chiesa on the sideline for an extended period of time. 

Even if we purely just look at xGDiff for the season, Juventus is at +0.38 per 90 minutes, while Villarreal is at +0.57 in the same category. Also, by UEFA coefficients, La Liga is much more difficult league than than Serie A.

I have Villarreal projected as a -103 favorite, so I love its Draw No Bet line at -130 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Villarreal — Draw No Bet (-130)


Atlético Madrid vs. Man United

Atlético Madrid Odds +140
Man United Odds +220
Draw +215
Over/Under 2.5 (+120 / -145)
Day | Time Wednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch CBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Atlético Madrid has been in weird form, but their underlying metrics are really impressive. Overall for the season, Atlético is sitting with a +0.53 xGDiff per 90 minutes, while Manchester United is only has a +0.11 xGDiff per 90 minutes for the season.

Atlético’s defense is once again playing at the level of Europe’s elite, allowing only 0.86 xG per match and they’ve had the benefit of playing a pretty difficult schedule that has included Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao since the Champions League ended.

Their numbers through that difficult schedule have been pretty good as well, putting up a +4.3 xGDiff, per fbref.com

WHAT A FINISH FROM LUIS SUAREZ 😲🔥 pic.twitter.com/nve9B28IaX

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 19, 2022

The same can’t be said about Manchester United, who have had the major benefit of playing a very easy schedule since manager Ralph Rangnick took over and the UCL went on break. Under Rangnick, United has a +0.68 xGDiff per 90 minutes in the EPL, which is impressive, but only one of their tilts came against the current top seven. So, this will be a massive step up in competition.

The Manchester United pressing numbers under Rangnick have improved, as their PPDA is down to 10.2, per understat.com. However, going back to the competition they’ve faced, pressing is easier against teams like Newcastle United, Burnley, Leeds United and others. Atlético is fourth in Spain at playing through pressure, so they should be able to have a lot of space on the counter.

I have Atlético Madrid projected as a -136 favorite, so I love them to win the first leg at +140 odds and will make it my top selection.

Pick: Atlético Madrid ML (+140)

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