Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Liverpool vs. Villarreal (April 26-27)

Champions League Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Liverpool vs. Villarreal (April 26-27) article feature image

John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Liverpool star Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring a goal.

We have reached the Champions League semifinal round, which comes after a ton of drama went down in the quarterfinals. And we have a shocker in the round of eight, with underdog Spanish outfit Villarreal pulled off an unprecedented upset over German powerhouse Bayern Munich.

As for Manchester City, the competition's favorite was able to squeak by Atlético Madrid after surviving a second-half onslaught in the reverse fixture away from Etihad Stadium.

Things were easier for Liverpool, which breezed past Portuguese outfit Benfica in pretty comfortable fashion. And the most drama of any of tie came from Real Madrid and Chelsea. The Blues went into the second leg down 3-1 on aggregate, but stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the Spanish capital. However, another Karim Benzema goal did in Chelsea, which would losing in extra time for a final 5-4 aggregate score.


— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 12, 2022

So, the semifinals are set with Liverpool versus Villarreal and Manchester City versus Real Madrid.

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 City vs. Real Madrid

Man City Odds-200
Real Madrid Odds+525
Over/Under2.5 (-155 / +110)
Day | TimeTuesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To WatchCBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Manchester City is looking dominant, but also shaky at the same time. The two legs against Atlético Madrid weren't convincing at all, as the EPL club only won the expected-goals battle over the two legs by a 1.8-1.1 margin.

The second half in the second meeting, along with the 3-2 loss in the FA Cup semifinal against Liverpool, definitely makes Real Madrid live in this tie, despite their over-performance thus far. 

In my opinion, Real Madrid has been lucky in the knockout stage and found success largely in part to the incredible finishing rate of Karim Benzema.

Los Blancos have scored eight goals off 4.7 xG and conceded six goals off 6.5 xGA overall. They had a -1.8 xGDiff combined through four matches against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, but found their way into the semifinals.


The ball from Luka Modric though. 😍

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 6, 2022

What will be interesting is Real Madrid's approach to this match. In the first leg against PSG, the La Liga stalwart played ultra defensive and didn’t do anything in transition to even threaten the goal. Then against Chelsea, the club scored on its first counterattacking chance, which completely changed the contest.

With John Stones, João Cancelo and Kyle Walker out, Manchester City is more vulnerable in the back, so Real Madrid can be effective on the counter again, as it has shown through it last three UCL matches. 

That said, I have 3.07 goals projected for this opening leg, so I like the value on the over 3 goals hitting for us via the Asian Totals at +110 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Total Over 3 Goals (+110)

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Liverpool vs. Villarreal

Liverpool Odds-375
Villarreal Odds+1050
Over/Under2.5 (-185 / +130)
Day | TimeWednesday | 3 p.m. ET
How To WatchCBS | Paramount+ | fuboTV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Oh boy. This is going to be so much fun.

Villarreal knocking out Juventus wasn't a fluke, as it beat the Serie A power on expected goals by a convincing 3.4-1.6 xG over the two legs. And guess what? Knocking out Bayern Munich wasn’t a luck either, as the final xG tally over the two fixtures wound up being only 2.6-1.9 in favor of the Bundesliga champion.

What was most impressive about what Villarreal was its ability to play through pressure. In the first leg, the Bavarians only had a 30.7% pressure success rate, when for the season they average around 35 percent. Villarreal is also third in Spain in Offensive PPDA, which is paramount when having to face Liverpool’s high press that has been suffocating opponents this season.

In my opinion, this spot really favors Villarreal. The Spanish top flight was off this weekend for the Copa de Rey final, so Villarreal will have eight days of rest before this showdown. It was quite opposite for Liverpool, which is playing its ninth match in 25 days, so eventually exhaustion has to catch up with the club. 

Bayern haven't lost away in the #UCL since 2017. 👀

Seven minutes in: Arnaut Danjuma gives Villarreal the lead! 🐍

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) April 6, 2022

I'm looking forward to seeing Villarreal’s game plan when it steps on the Anfield pitch. The Yellow Submarine brought the pressure right out of the gate against the Bavarians in the first leg, pressed them successfully and created a lot of counterattacking opportunities. Liverpool plays the same style, with but with better center backs, yet that doesn’t mean Villarreal can’t take advantage of their high line.

However, the visitors could also sit deep in their 4-4-2 formation just like they did in the second leg against Bayern and hope for a road result. The good news is the Yellow Submarine is accustomed to playing both styles and I have no doubt manager Unai Emery will adapt on the fly to what suits his squad best.

It also looks like standout Gerard Moreno is going to miss this match with a hamstring injury, so don’t be surprised to see Villarreal set up ultra defensive.

I have Liverpool’s moneyline spread projected at -1.06, so I like the value we're seeing on Villarreal getting +1.5 on the spread line at +100 odds and will make it my top selection.

Pick: Villarreal +1.5 (+100)

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